Highlights of the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival
- Donald Reid
- 23 September 2014
Events to showcase the best of the capital's cuisine include food and drink tastings, street food stalls and special restaurant menus
Scotland’s capital has earned an enviable reputation for its eating and drinking scene over the last decade, but to what extent do locals mine its riches? Donald Reid previews the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival as it aims to highlight the city’s range and reach
Casual street food has taken an upward turn in various quarters of Edinburgh, not least when there’s the excuse for two or more vans to gather together. Pick up a roving meal ticket for the round-the-world food stalls at Stockbridge Market on Sundays 12 and 19 October.
On Sunday 19 October, bars and venues around the West End celebrate the local beer scene with a trail of meet-the-brewer and beer-sampling events. Look out too for beer-matched menus and other special promotions and offers.
Food & Drink Tours
A guided tour is a slightly self-conscious but revelatory way for locals to discover their own home town. Alan Chalmers’ Eat Walk Tour links up shops, restaurants and tasting experiences down Canongate or across the Old and New Towns. With morning, afternoon and early evening departures, you can join the tour for a discounted £39 (normally £55) during the festival. Alternatively, try a gin treasure hunt on Saturday 18 October starting at Edinburgh Gin’s Heads & Tales.
There’s more gin flowing at food shop Cranachan & Crowdie’s tasting sessions, with Thursday evenings from 5–7pm during the festival set aside for introductions to each of the three new artisan gin distillers in and around Edinburgh: Edinburgh Gin, Pickering’s and NB Gin, each paired with a Scottish food producer. Elsewhere, the Foodmarket at Harvey Nichols will be a good spot to find introductory samplings of featured local specialities.
Participation in the Restaurant Festival is probably best illustrated by the fact that over 60 local dining spots are putting on special menus during the course of the event. Ranging across a wide spectrum of prices and styles, you’ll find enticing deals and meals going on at pubs and pizzerias as well as glitzier venues such as One Square at the Sheraton and Valvona & Crolla’s VinCaffè.
The Michelin-starred brigade may be the headline acts of Edinburgh dining, but just as importantly the capital is home to an impressive number of chefs who may not have (or aspire to) the M-badging, but contribute hugely to the range, ambition and reputation of food served in the city. At the Festival’s launch event in the Grand Hall at Ghillie Dhu on Wednesday 8 October, you can encounter a number of these in action, including Mark Greenaway, Paul Wedgwood, Craig Sandle of Galvin’s, plus Stuart Ralston and Krystal Goff from Aizle.