I felt it was only fair, since Edinburgh’s been my home for the last 7 years, that when I posted about places to see and eat in Glasgow that there should be one for Edinburgh too! If you like exploring foodie haunts as much as I do, you can’t not rave about it to the world and share how amazing the food really is, right?
One of the places I never really went into was the Scotch Whisky Experience tour. I’ve had a taste of whisky before and I couldn’t tell you what flavours or aromas the wee sip held – they all tasted like burning alcohol. I’d previously dined at the Amber Restaurant there, but my friend wanted to bring a unique Scots whisky back to Hong Kong with her, so on the barrel ride we went.
We went with the Silver tour and after being given a brief history of whisky and how it’s made, we were ushered into a room with other visitors where we were told about the 4 different regions whisky is produced: Lowland, Islay, Speyside and Highland. This was identified by colour and after sniffing the scratch card and hearing about the different aromas for each region, you placed your souvenir Glencairn whisky glass on the colour you’d like to try.
We were then brought to another room which would be considered a whisky connoisseur’s wildest dream: for amateurs like me, we learned the techniques on how to recognise the quality of whisky we were served using the whisky glass we were given…in a room filled with the largest collection of whisky, including 6 of the best whisky collected. Hint: to fully appreciate the flavour, add a wee bit of water to your whisky. It’s not cheating, I promise!
The verdict? I’m still partial to the Highland Old Pulteney whisky I got a dram of.
On our first day of exploring Edinburgh, we were fortunate to be given free tickets to a show at the Spiegeltent Colombino, Le Haggis. We weren’t sure what to expect, but the audience was pleasantly entertained with typical Scottish humour mixed in with some old favourite tunes (can’t beat your typical Auld Lang Syne to end the evening after some Rabbie Burns recitals…in song) along with dance and acrobatics from the cast. We have since then also been wowed by the cast of Close Up, an Australian quartet, who can truly make you gasp out loud from the edge-of-your-seat acts they perform.
We also paid the National Museum of Scotland a visit, where we visited the Photography: A Victorian Sensation and Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story exhibits. My little eye also spied The Millennium Clock Tower (2000) created by Eduard Bersudsky of Sharmanka in collaboration with various other artists.
Now for the important part: the food!
Mary’s Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket, EH1 2HS
Opening hours are according to season. In August, the shop is open from 12:00 noon until sell out (sometimes as early as 5:00pm)
All gelato and chocolate offerings are hand made by Mary, a graduate of the Carpigiani Gelato University. There isn’t much seating provided and customers flock in at all hours, so to grab a seat, be sure to get there early. Flavours change daily, but you’re welcome to sampple a flavour before you decide.
You’ll have tried the best ice cream ever with a view of the Castle while at the cosy milk bar, guaranteed!
14 Bank Street, EH1 2LN
Open daily from 11:00am to 9:00pm
First recommended when I visited London 2 years ago, I rediscovered the wonders of Chatime bubble tea when I was in Hong Kong for Christmas that same year. In June, Chatime opened up its very own branch in Edinburgh on Bank Street and I couldn’t be more excited.
The shop space isn’t big and there’s only a couple of settees and a wee bar with 2 stools for seating, but it caters to a large number of faithful bubble tea loyalists (me included) and we’re all quite happy to take it away with us while wandering the streets in search of a coveted Fringe show to attend or just to head home and enjoy the caffeine-laden chewy cup full of goodness.
I’m a bit disappointed the Edinburgh branch doesn’t offer as wide a variety of flavours as the London branches (namely, hazelnut milk tea!) but I’ve managed to find a new favourite with the Chatime Roasted Milk Tea which surprisingly brings a nice smokey aroma to the tea.
3 Grove Street, EH3 8AF
Open daily 5:00pm to 9:00pm
This favourite Asian haunt of mine needs no introduction. Open since 2011, I’ve been visiting this Vietnamese restaurant for some much loved gỏi cuốn (summer rolls) and pho (noodles in soup) every so often. The restaurant has now expanded to include more seating, but the friendly welcome from staff and the decor encompassing artwork from the owner’s mum still remains.
63 Shore, EH6 6RA
9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 6:00pm Saturday and Sunday
It’s also no secret that Mimi’s has become a favourite of mine for yummy baked treats and breakfast. Serving teapig brews and homemade treats, the menu changes every few months so you might get summer berry compote French toast one week and see banana salted caramel the next! Be sure to have a gander at the cake offerings and bring some home for a friend or loved one to experience the joys Mimi’s can bring!
104 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4ES
Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 7:00pm, Sunday 12:00 noon to 7:00pm
The shop in Edinburgh is tucked away amongst other unique and independent stores along the main road stretching from Brunstfield Links to Morningside. The wee shop itself a little inconspicuous to the eye unless you look out for it, but once you’re inside, you can’t tear your eyes away from the chilled fridge with the day’s offerings of various flavours. Cakes are made freshly each day so you don’t always get the same flavours.
Rich and perfectly portioned, I’d be quite happy to go back and tell friends and family to try out their amazing cheesecake…but this is probably best indulged sparingly if you’ve got an important event to be present for (like wedding dresses to fit into!)