Café Portrait

Café Portrait
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
  • Telephone 0131 624 6421
  • Seasonal times August: Mon–Thu 10am–5.30pm
  • Bar open Sun 12.30–4.30pm.
  • Food served Fri–Wed 10am–4.30pm; Thu 10am–6.30pm. Lunch noon–3pm, cakes & snacks at other times.
  • Average price £7.50 soup and sandwich (set lunch)
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Photo of Café Portrait
Café Portrait

Food that nourishes the body in a location that nourishes the mind

Eating & Drinking Guide

The 2017 edition of The List's Eating & Drinking Guide is out now – only £5.95 (+p&p).

International students, the well-heeled and the silver haired make up the clientele dining in the expansive café at the Scottish Portrait Gallery. With its grand gothic architecture and high ceilings, this venue emits a rarefied air. Odds are diners here have also come to explore the remarkable artwork, but the food is as varied and restorative as the portraiture. There’s a rotating selection of soups, salads, sandwiches and mains. Salads are particularly noteworthy – the courgette, feta and pea salad is zingy, peas bursting with freshness and courgettes delightfully lemony, while the carrot, nigella seed, almond and goat’s cheese salad is sweet and moreish. A pastrami sandwich, spicy and satisfying, comes adorned with pesto, rocket and gherkin. The café has a reputation for its sweets and slices, and while the temple-achingly sweet cherry bakewell lacks depth of flavour, the scones are cloud-like in lightness and subtly cinnamony. Most impressively, a humble salted caramel brownie is reimagined as a brownie millionaire’s slice (a layer of thick chocolate coverture capping the fudgy saline caramel), and is every bit as brilliant as that would suggest.

  • High point: Beautifully fresh salads, lovingly prepared
  • Low point: Sandwiches are fairly pricey
  • Notable dish: Carrot salad with nigella seeds, almonds and goat's cheese
  • Private dining: Up to 35 covers
  • Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Free wi-fi
  • Music on stereo: Nothing
  • Live entertainment: Occasional music events, bands on Thursdays, events during festival
  • Capacity: 190
  • Largest group: 35 in snug, 2 meeting rooms, one 30, one 45
  • Open since: Dec 2011
  • Number of wines sold by the glass: 6
  • House wine: £23 per bottle


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