3 Royal Terrace
Scotland EH7 5AB
Tel: 44 131 523 1030
A restaurant with rooms in a four-floor Georgian town house, Paul Kitching's restaurant produces dishes that sound deceptively simple on the menu but reveal themselves to be a multilayered rainbow of ingredients. Typical is his corned beef, onions, chips, and baked beans—perhaps something Kitching may have eaten growing up in his native northeast England. On the plate, this means very tender baked fillet of best middle beef, fried onions and fries, flageolet, haricots blancs, kidney beans, sprouting broccoli, celeriac, macadamias, leeks, chicory, and tomato ketchup. People love Kitching's cooking or hate it, but it's inventive, unusual, and unlike anything else in Edinburgh. The same could be said of the dining room decor, which mixes ornate cornicing, chandeliers, and giant-butterfly-motif carpets with kitsch ornaments such as cow-shaped milk jugs.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 12 to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9 pm; Fridays through Saturdays 12 to 1: 30 pm and 6:45 to 9:30 pm.
Boat of Garten , Scotland
Tel: 44 1479 831466
This family-run operation, 30 miles south of Inverness, has converted a fishing tackle shop into an informal restaurant. The decor is simple, with wooden floors, a bar made from wine cases, and local art on the walls. Lunch tends to offer straightforward dishes such as sausages and mash, deviled kidneys on toast, and homemade soups. It's not elaborate but it is prepared with care, is cooked to order, and uses seasonal, local ingredients—ideas which could be considered dangerously radical in many other catering ventures in the Highlands. In the evenings, the menu steps up a few gears and features dishes such as grilled rainbow trout fillets on a beet and orange salad with arugula pesto or braised wild boar belly from Beauly.
Open Wednesdays through Mondays 12 to 2 pm and 6 to 11 pm.
Applecross , Scotland
Tel: 44 1520 744262
Applecross, on the west coast directly across from the Isle of Skye, is a long way from anywhere. One approach involves negotiating the hair-raisingly steep Bealach-na-Ba road. It's worth it. Looking out over Applecross Bay to Raasay and beyond that to Skye, the location is breathtaking, especially at sunset. The inn is not the place for silver service and Riedel glassware. Instead there is a lively bar with a good range of malts and simply presented fresh seafood hoisted from the bay. Sitting in the beer garden by the water with a pint pot of squat lobster tails and a bottle of sauvignon blanc is the sort of experience that encourages you to toss your PDA in the water and go native.
Open daily 12 to 9 pm.
1 Devonshire Gardens
Scotland G12 0UX
Tel: 44 141 339 2001
It's a little distance out from the city center, but this exclusive boutique hotel has a dining room that justifies the ten-minute cab ride. The Bistro name sells short a kitchen that produces top-end contemporary food under chef Darin Campbell. The dark, oak-paneled dining room has old-school charm spiked with flashes of modern bling such as the black chandeliers. The menu ranges from ballotines of foie gras and truffled hen's egg to char-grilled slabs of dry-aged steak from Donald Russell, the Queen's meat supplier.
Closed for lunch on Saturdays.
176 West Regent Street
Scotland G2 4RL
Tel: 44 141 248 3801
Glasgow foodies welcomed Scot Brian Maule with open arms when he returned back north from London to open this restaurant, but considering that he's from Ayrshire, not Glasgow, the warm reception probably had less to do with local pride than with the Michelin stars he garnered. Maule presents his French-Scottish dishes (changing every six weeks) impeccably—roasted guinea fowl topped with fried cèpes and hints of parsley, garlic, and shallots—and serves them in a Victorian dining room with high-backed leather chairs and white linen–draped tables. Lighter dishes are available during lunch.
Closed Sundays. No lunch on Saturdays.
64 Albion Street
Scotland G11 NY
Tel: 44 141 552 6813
Serving modern Scottish cuisine, this local favorite in the old Merchant City Cheese Market was the first place to reclaim the now-jumping neighborhood back in 1979, and it's still pulling them in enough to require adding a bar in 2002. Inside, custom-carved wood chairs are tinged with color from the stained-glass tangle of blue fish in the front window. The all-day menu runs from eggs en cocotte through sandwiches and linguine to the popular "Gandolfi Standards" (smoked venison with gratin dauphinoise, Cockburns of Dingwall haggis, and New York pastrami!). Try not to be so dazzled by the Standards that you miss the Cullen skink (a traditional smoked haddock soup), smoked mackerel pâté with oatcakes, or Stornoway black pudding with mushrooms and pancakes.
33/35 Castle Terrace
Scotland EH1 2EL
Tel: 44 131 229 1222
Edinburgh-born chef Dominic Jack opened his restaurant in 2010 with the backing of friend and fellow chef Tom Kitchin, following stints in some of Europe's finest restaurants. Modern, seasonal, and local, his food is artfully presented in understated surroundings (gray walls, wood floors—although the gold-leaf ceiling adds a touch a subtle glamour). His European influences are strong in dishes such as seared Scotch beef with crispy ox tongue, pastilla, carrot, onion, and sauce bordelaise, but more global cues are obvious in his ceviche of wild North Sea halibut served sushi style.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 2 pm, 6:30 to 10 pm.
Tweed Mill Brae
Kingussie , Scotland
Tel: 44 1540 66 11 66
Set by a river in the village of Kingussie, 20 miles south of Inverness, the dining room in this converted tweed mill is whitewashed and has beamed ceilings and an open fire. It's all perfectly comfortable and pleasant but won't distract from The Cross's two main attractions: Its imaginative food and intriguing wine list. The kitchen keeps on racking up awards for dishes such as organic Shetland salmon marinated with lime and ginger, a combo that makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous smoked salmon. Another starter of sweet, seared scallops comes with a contrastingly sharp dressing of capers and a cauliflower purée. Local ingredients such as a well-flavored roast partridge might be married with a buttery root mash and then spiked with slightly more exotic cowberries. The wine list is less concerned with expensive grand crus than it is with lesser-known but interesting bottles that reflect the owners' catholic tastes. They list 40 dessert wines, which may well be a record for Scotland. And if you sample too much, there are eight reasonable en-suite rooms.
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 7 to 8:30 pm.
5658 St. Mary's Street
Scotland EH1 1SX
Tel: 44 131 556 5888
Dark wood, lacquered maroon walls, and contemporary lighting isn't your typical veggie bistro decor, and a lot of diners here are even (gasp!) meat eaters. They come for the imaginative dishes from David Bann's kitchen, which include smoked tofu Thai spicy fritters with homemade mango chutney and roast garlic tomato sauce, and celeriac spinach and Cheddar tart. Try the malt whisky panna cotta or dark-chocolate soufflé for dessert.
3034 St. Andrews Square
Scotland EH2 2AD
Tel: 44 131 524 8350
Evidently Edinburgh can't get enough high-up restaurants with views. And these views are as gorgeous as any. If the weather is amenable, grab a balcony seat for a rooftop vista that stretches from Edinburgh Castle over the Firth (meaning estuary) of Forth to Fife. Dishes are as fashionable as the labels downstairs. So what's the gastro equivalent of Chloé, Kors, Balenciaga, Thakoon, Derek Lam, etc.? Think honey-roasted quail with black pudding and soused baby vegetables, seared Oban scallops with hummus and red pepper salsa, and roast loin of venison with seared foie gras.
Isle of Islay , Scotland
Tel: 44 1496 810330
As well as its seven bedrooms and public bar, the Harbour Inn's dining room is a major selling point, with scenic views across to Jura, a neighboring island of the Inner Hebrides. Given the easy access to some of the best seafood in the world, it's no surprise that the Harbour Inn majors in all things finned, and the dining room's decor reflects its maritime setting. The seafood chowder is as chunky as it is creamy, while a fillet of pearly halibut might come with a chardonnay and saffron sauce. The shellfish are superb: Try the zingy crab and prawn tian jazzed up with a lime and chilli dressing, or the huge, fleshy Loch Gruinart oysters that have a salty, peaty taste.
Open daily 12 to 2 pm and 6 to 9 pm.
78 Commercial Quay
Tel: 44 131 555 1755
Run ambitiously by young chef Tom Kitchin and his wife, Michaela, this Leith restaurant has shot into Edinburgh's premier league since opening in June 2006. The Scottish chef trained with some of Europe's culinary top guns, who hammered home the importance of seasonality. You won't find any asparagus flown in from Africa on the menu here. Instead, think seared hand-dived Orkney scallops with roasted Scottish asparagus wrapped in pancetta, or roasted wild fillet of North Sea turbot served with artichoke, shellfish à la barigoule, and a saffron sauce.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
28 Westminster Terrace
Scotland G3 7RU
Tel: 44 141 221 1663
Glasgow is home to a vast number of fine Indian restaurants, but even among the stiff competition, Mother India gets high marks. A small, traditional menu caters to most tastes, with dishes such as chili garlic chicken dosa, vegetable karahi, and Delhi-style lamb. When the high-ceilinged dining area and the wood-paneled space upstairs proved too small to contain the hungry masses, they added a contemporary space in the basement called…wait for it…the Cellar. Mother India has an alcohol license, but you can also BYOB.
Dinner only Mondays and Tuesdays.
33 Castle Street
Scotland EH2 3DN
Tel: 44 131 226 7614
Alongside chef Tony Singh's multicultural menus, the rooftop views from the terrace are the draw at this contemporary restaurant in the city center. Dishes have an international flavor, such as Vietnamese fishcakes with a mango-and-soy dressing, and roast venison loin with a haricot bean and smoked-bacon ragout. Singh can do dainty and delicate with his own Oloroso smoked salmon, but he can also do a Master of the Universe meatfest such as the Castle Rock Burger: a nine-ounce prime steak burger with a ten-ounce steak, bacon, cheese, and a hen's egg. Decent cocktails at the bar are a bonus.—Updated by Jonathan Trew
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12 to 3pm, 6 to 10 pm; Sundays 12:30 to 3 pm, 6 to 9 pm.
2 George IV Bridge
Scotland EH1 1AD
Tel: 44 131 226 1888
This modern seafood restaurant is the brainchild of Roy Brett, a local chef who cut his teeth with British seafood celeb chef Rick Stein. Book a table by the large windows that look out over George IV Bridge and settle in for the tremendous roast-shellfish platter in garlic and herb butter or perch at the horseshoe bar and tackle some Ayrshire oysters.—Jonathan Trew
Open daily 12 to 3 pm, 5:30 to 10 pm.
54 The Shore
Scotland EH6 6RA
Tel: 44 131 553 3557
Edinburgh's first Michelin star (awarded in 2001, when this place was two years old) appropriately belongs to a native son, Martin Wishart. Having done much to kick-start Edinburgh's fine-dining scene, many would say that Wishart remains at the head of the pack. He trained with two Roux brothers and Marco Pierre White, and while his cooking owes much to France, his ingredients are rooted in Scotland. Menu descriptions such as roast saddle and braised neck of Vementry lamb, dauphine potatoes, port-braised turnip, crosnes (Chinese artichokes), and sprout leaves don't really do justice to the delicate artistry on the plate. The restaurant's decor is plush, from the thick carpets to the plump upholstery of the seating, but touches such as swirling gold wall panels and organically shaped sconces stop it from appearing too formal. In 2011, Wishart opened his city-center venture The Honours, a faster-paced operation with polished brasserie classics.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 2 pm, 7 to 10 pm.
Oban , Scotland
Tel: 44 1631 56 6000
There are few airs and graces about this tiny west coast restaurant which serves fish caught by owner Eilidh Smith's brother, but what it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in the freshness of its seafood and great views out to the islands. The menu will depend on what has been landed recently. Typical choices include cracked crab claws, oysters on ice, grilled lobster with asparagus, and scallops in garlic butter.
Open Wednesdays through Sundays 6:30 pm to 11 pm.
28 Gibson Street
Scotland G12 8NX
Tel: 44 141 334 2665
This West End restaurant—run by Colin Clydesdale, whose late father, Ronnie, owned Glasgow landmark The Ubiquitous Chip—has weathered magnificently over the past decade by testing what works and developing its dishes. The result is an exemplary operation with a fun, informed staff and the kind of menu that makes every dish sound tempting. They do a venison burger and sautéed potatoes with sea salt and rosemary one week out of every month; alternatively, try their "Spice Route Curry" of the week (Indian, Thai, or Malaysian), and if you can face it, taste the haggis, which has won them a lot of praise too. If that's all too rich, take a seat at a wooden table in the street-level café (the restaurant's in an atmospheric stone-walled basement) for a pretheater or lunch prix fixe of three courses and coffee.
Isle of Skye , Scotland
Tel: 44 1470 511 258
Perched in one of Skye's more remote corners, this former farming croft opened as The Three Chimneys in 1985. Today the restaurant is one of the more celebrated places to eat in the U.K. and, despite its location, booking is advisable for even a Monday lunch. The menu reads like an ingredients map of Scotland: Langoustines from Loch Dunvegan, Lochalsh chanterelles, Glen Hinnisdale lamb, and Skye red deer all make star appearances. For all its accolades, the food here isn't complicated and the menu body-swerves the more persnickety excesses of haute cuisine in favor of well-defined flavors. If you want to know what Scotland tastes like, then the poached Inverness-shire Limousin beef with pearl barley broth, croft summer vegetables, and a wild thyme and horseradish cream points in the right direction. Six well-appointed bedroom suites with views over Loch Dunvegan are available at the adjacent House Over-By.
Open daily 6:30 pm to close.
118a Blythswood Street
Scotland G2 4EG
Tel: 44 141 847 0088
Seafood from Scotland's west coast is the main draw at this small city center restaurant, where the kitchen prizes simplicity over fussy food. Hand-dived scallops come seared with Stornoway black pudding, while the monkfish is wrapped in bacon, and that's as complicated as it needs to get when the fish is this fresh. The restaurant has nothing to do with the old BBC cooking show; it's named after bingo caller's slang ("Two Fat Ladies, 88") for the address of the original branch, which is only ten minutes' walk from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum at 88 Dumbarton Road (44-141-339-1944).
Closed daily from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
12 Ashton Lane
Scotland G12 8SG
Tel: 44 141 334 5007
When he opened The Chip in the heart of the West End way back in 1971, the late Ronnie Clydesdale was one of the earliest chefs to realize that boosting Scotland's natural produce was the key to propelling the country out of the culinary backwater it was stuck in. Almost 40 years later, every chef with ambition is similarly rigorous in naming his sourcing. At The Chip today, this means that the black-face heather-fed lamb is noted as coming from Smeaton Farm, while the rabbit accompanying the pear and pistachio sausage nibbled its last blade of grass in Dumfriesshire. If you really want to give the credit card a workout, the Chip's wine list—particularly the Bordeaux section—makes interesting reading.
121 Hanover Street
Scotland EH2 1DJ
Tel: 44 131 225 6215
You wouldn't know it from the unassuming basement entrance, but this cafe and deli serves up an excellent meal—and a reasonably priced one, at that. Fair Trade, locally sourced, and (nearly always) organic ingredients go into the seasonal menu of lighter fare (salads, sandwiches, tapas) and substantial entrées (pan-fried scallops, Stornaway black pudding, Buccleuch beef paprika stew). Original stone walls, a stone-flagged floor, and an old range add some historic character to the otherwise plain, whitewashed space.
Closed Sunday evenings (except during the Festival season).
11 Multrees Walk
Scotland EH1 3DQ
Tel: 44 131 557 0088
The Valvona & Crolla delicatessen (19 Elm Row) is a foodies' haven. So too is this Deco-glam restaurant, opened in fall 2004 to celebrate the deli's 70th birthday. The combination of Scottish produce and Italian perfectionism makes for greatness in so many dishes: braised Scottish Borders Stinco di Agnello (lamb shank); Fritto Misto of Scottish seafood and zucchini; a simple Frittata di Verdure (vegetable omelet) with fresh mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pesto. The Tagliere di Salumi—a cured-meat sampler with Speck, bresaola, Coppa di Parma, and Napoli salami—should be a compulsory order. If you're watching the wallet (and who won't be after a few days in Edinburgh), one of the 40 wines by the glass plus a $14 plate of the V&C Polpettine al sugo (pork and beef meatballs with pine nuts, a rich tomato sauce, and as much of the bakery's handmade bread as you can fit in) will do anyone proud.
Closed Sunday evenings.
3335 Gibson Street
Scotland G12 8NU
Tel: 44 141 339 5969
The West Bank is about as close as the city gets to a gastropub, and it has been causing a stir since opening in the summer of 2006. Like the clientele—a mix of students, academics, and West End hipsters—the decor has worked hard to be stylishly boho, thanks to hot design companies such as Timorous Beasties; the tabletops, for example, are made from old scaffolding planks but are paired with beautifully designed butterfly lamps. Dishes include Goan seafood curry with Malabar pickle and pullao rice, or the dark rum and chili chicken with black bean salsa. It may be a laid-back bar, but bagging a table is as tough here as at any upmarket restaurant, so book ahead at peak times.
The Royal Mile
Scotland EH1 2NF
Tel: 44 131 225 5613
With its atmospheric oak-paneled main dining room and airy converted courtyard (known as the Secret Garden), dinner at this 16th-century building near the castle gates verges on the theatrical. The menu of classic preparations has a distinctly Scottish flavor: foie gras parfait with truffle jelly and brioche toast; roast filet of Buccleuch beef with a horseradish mousseline; seafood platter (oysters, langoustines, clams, mussels, crab, smoked salmon, and a lobster). If you just can't get enough of the tapestries, gilding, and rich fabrics, stay overnight in one of the seven romantic suites upstairs.