48 hours in Edinburgh (Gourmet Chick in Scotland)

Where else but Edinburgh at festival time do you see a troupe of people dressed as green frogs holding umberellas and traipsing through the rain on their way to a show?  I have just got back from a weekend in Edinburgh for the festival.  I know that I am still posting on my month in Paris but bear with me as I have been doing quite a bit of travelling and eating recently.  MTV boyfriend and I headed to Edinburgh for the weekend to see our very talented friend Marney perform in her comedy cabaret show Rosa Waxes Lyrical.  It has been getting rave reviews (five stars!) and if you are keen to see it, she is bringing the show to London this weekend.  

Besides catching some brilliant shows we also fitted in quite a bit of eating and drinking but mainly on the run.  We didn’t want to spend too much money or time eating so decided against trying any of Edinburgh’s Michelin star restaurants and instead ate at cheap and cheerful local places.  We used some friends recommendations and also this excellent guide from The Guardian to cheap eats in Edinburgh.  So, over our 48 hours in Edinburgh these were the highlights:  
1.  Spoon Cafe 
Tucked away in a quiet road just past the end of the Royal Mile this cafe has bargain prices and free newspapers and  magazines for you to linger over.  There is an appetizing menu of sandwiches and soups and a daily specials board as well that includes some more interesting offerings.  Everything is available to eat in or at a cheaper price to takeaway.  The BLT (£4.35) is a generous sized sandwich with two thick slices of crusty white bread holding in freshly fried bacon and of course the obligatory sliced tomato, lettuce and squirt of mayo.  From the specials board the Arboath Smokies with crushed new potatoes (£8.95) are a little dry however the smoky, salty flavour of the fish is sensational.  This is the sort of cafe that if I lived in Edinburgh I could see myself spending a lot of time here.  

Details: 15 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NB (Ph 0131 556 6922)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
2.  Oink
Oink has to have the shortest menu in the whole of Edinburgh.  All this tiny shopfront serves is roast pig rolls (£4.80).  There are literally only three seats in the shop as most of the room is taken up by the whole roast pig, head and all which is proudly displayed in the window. All you have to do is choose your accompaniment (haggis, stuffing, crackling or apple sauce) and some tender pulled pork will be carved from the pig for your eating pleasure.  The meat is tender and moist and the aroma of roasting pig from this little shop is unbelievable.  Could I have found my spiritual home?  Oink come to London please.  
Details: 34 Victoria street, Edinburgh EH1 2JW.  
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
We stopped in for a quick afternoon tea at Always Sunday right in the middle of the Royal Mile next to the festival ticket office.  The emphasis is more on sweet than savoury here and I should make special mention of the scones with jam and cream as MTV boyfriend rates them as the best scones he has had during our two years in the United Kingdom.  Yes, he rates the scones at Always Sunday as better than any we tried in Cornwall or Devon the traditional home of scones.  The scones are light, fluffy and towering and served with small bowls on the side of clotted cream and blood red strawberry jam.  
Details: 170 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QS (Ph 0131 622 0667).  Open 9am – 6pm.  
Damage: Budget
Special mention should be made of this brilliant outdoor bar all artificial grass and chinese lanterns.  I think it only operates for the festival though so get in quick.  
Details: George Street Gardens, Edinburgh EH8 9HL (Ph 08 44 54 58252)
Damage: Reasonable
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my post on eating an entire roast pig in London at St John’s (like Oink but with a Michelin star).  


  1. Gourmet Chick, I Love Edinburgh, great choices – Here’s my picks for eating out from last time I was there.

    Monster Mash studenty cheap, but gorgeous food for a budget lunch.
    Sausage and Mash is the speciality.

    Amber upmarket restaurant above the Whisky experience the castle, open in the evening – Lovely Modern Scottish food with emphasis on Whisky as an ingredient….oh there’s also a Whisky bar selling pretty much every type you can think of to drink with your meal.

    Cafe St Honoré – upmarket restaurant in the style of French Bistro but again serving, excellent traditional scottish food, very atmospheric.

  2. Oh as an Edinburgh boy this is tempting to put my 2p in.

    My faves are

    The Cambridge Bar. Like a better version of GBK but with great great beer.

    Katie’s Diner for home cooked american grill food. Really lovely place.

    Mother India’s Café for excellent indian food on a budget and fast.

    Cafe Truva an excellent turkish cafe by the shore in leith.

    Also worth a mention or the hundreds of cheap Italians that outdo most of the pricy ones in London.

    I agree with Dan on Monster Mash but I have to say though that Cafe St Honere has changed hands and gone massively down hill.

  3. Interesting about Cafe St Honore going down hill – didnt’t realise it had changed hands, I last went about a year ago. What a shame.

  4. No battered Mars bars, no macaroni cheese pies, no deep-fried pizza – you sure you went to Edinburgh?

  5. Dan – Thanks for the tips. Monster Mash was on my list but we just did not make it there (48 hours is just not long enough).

    Neil – Again thanks for the tips, clearly I have to go back. It was amazing how much cheaper the prices were than London even at a very touristy time of year.

    Grobelaar – Yes no battered mars bar! I was expecting a lot of that but I have to say that Edinburgh far exceeded my culinary expectations for good cheap eats.

  6. Enjoyed the blog! I have to say I can’t resist pulled pork, I have eaten it out, at fete’s & such like, but it never tastes as good as the home made, they seem to boil it…& it’s always swimming in a load of hot water…yuk! Your photo looks like the real thing though. how it should be :0)

  7. Glad the Guardian article came in handy! Roast pig roll looked incredible. My favourites from the last two Edinburgh trips a long time ago were The Grain Store and Martin Wishart. I can’t wait to go back…

  8. I’m very sad because I haven’t heard of many of these places which shows how rarely I go home nowadays!

    Anyway I thought I’d throw my tuppence in and pass on some tips from the last time I went there. There are soooo many amazing restos now, it’s really gone upmarket from the rugby pubs of my youth!

    My edinburgh guide is here: http://bit.ly/bmas6N.

    Sasha @ The Happiness Project London

  9. Wow thanks for the tips – Im heading to Edinburgh next week for around 48hours! 🙂

  10. […] 48 Hours in Edinburgh (Spoon Cafe, Oink, Always Sunday, Hullabaloo bar); […]

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