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Beyond the Fringe: Adventures in Edinburgh



As Edinburgh plays host to part of Avengers: Infinity War in cinemas around the world, we discover the best things to munch, guzzle and explore in Auld (and Neu) Reekie

Beyond the Fringe: Adventures in Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, is built on a landscape which is the product of early volcanic activity and the eroding forces of glaciation. At its centre is a Medieval royal castle built on an extinct volcano, and its citizens go on with their daily lives as if that’s no big deal. Naturally, there’s heaps to do in the beautiful surrounding area, but the city’s known for its rich history. There’s one other thing too, isn’t there? Oh yeah, the world’s biggest arts festival - The Edinburgh Festival - takes place there around the month of August, attracting as many as 400,000 visitors each year.

You can Google all that stuff though, so we turned to the locals for the inside scoop on the best things to eat, drink and discover new experiences in Auld Reekie.


“Fancy: There’s a new place called Black Ivy which is in Bruntsfield. It’s really cool and really fucking hard to get a table.
Medium: Baba is great. It’s like a Lebanese restaurant. It’s part of the Principle hotel group, which has taken over some really nice hotels across the UK. It’s like tapas.

Kanpai is amazing for sushi. Really incredible. There’s a great sushi takeaway called Go Ninja. That’s new. It’s in Haymarket. It’s really cool.

The Lioness of Leith is near our office. Tom Kitchin’s place is really good and Martin Wishart’s. They’re like Michelin star, but in the middle of these cool cafes [in Leith]. Toast is a new sort of bistro-cafe thing that’s opened. They do sherry and wine flights and amazing variations of avocado on toast. So you’ve got this weird mixture of Michelin star next to this all mashed together, but it works really well.

“In Leith they do a thing called The Pitt, which is on Pitt Street and it’s a little street food festival thing. It’s on every Saturday and they have bands and stuff on and then all the little street foody things.”

“Fireside is another version of that, which is an outdoor food and music place. They do different events. They’re quite cool.”
Sarah Drummond, Executive Producer, LS Productions

“Leith’s well-served for eating out. As a port, you’d expect fish and seafood to feature here and it doesn’t disappoint. Fishers, The Ship and The Shore are great for mussels, fish and chips or something a bit more exotic. The Shore is a particular Leith agency favourite. If you want fancy – Martin Wishart, Norn and The Kitchin are Leith’s Michelin star places. Pomegranate (Middle Eastern street food) is another cracker. And Harmonium for the veggies. And the Chop House (great steak) is ace. They have three restaurants in Edinburgh but the original and best is in Leith.
“In the city, there are loads of options:
o Dusit (Thai)  is lovely.
o Spitaki (Greek) is very reasonable. As is Ting Thai Caravan.
o Purslane (Scottish) and Radici (Italian) in Stockbridge.
o The Dogs is great.
o El Cartel if you like Mexican street food (and tequila).”
Phil Evans, Creative Director, The Leith Agency

“My favourite restaurant in the city is near my house and is called Porto & Fi. It's great for brunch and lets me catch up with my wife when she's been on night shift and I've had a hectic week. Edinburgh also has amazing Michelin Star restaurants - my favourite being The Kitchin. Timberyard is brilliant and there's a little place call McDonald's you should check out too. Real up-and-coming startup looking to disrupt the burger industry…”
Ian Greenhill, Creative Director, Studio Something

“The Dogs – Quirky, high quality, casual dinner. 
Bread Meats Bread – Casual burger and poutine place. Impossible to leave not feeling sick. 
Ondine – High-end fish restaurant.
Deadly Donuts – Freddie is an award winning chef in another life. He now owns a donut shop, which becomes fine dining for eight on weekend evenings.”
Lewis Phillips, Founder and Creative Director, Campfire


Rollo on Broughton Street is good for a nice intimate chilled vibe. Cocktails, nice food, that’s great, love it there. It’s not too expensive.

“If you get pissed you can go to The Street to dance, which is a gay bar on the corner of Broughton Street… and then if you get really pissed you can go to CC Blooms and dance, which is like the Edinburgh version of G.A.Y. If you end up in CCs you know that you’ve had a good night.”
Sarah Drummond, Executive Producer, LS Productions

The Malt & Hops in Leith hasn’t changed for years. It’s unpretentious, there’s a load of real ales on tap and the fire’s on all year round. You’ll find a Leither in there most nights of the week. The Shore bar and Brass Monkey are other favourites with Leith folk. 
The Sheep Heid Inn next to Holyrood Park, (kind of at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat - the highest peak of the hills that dominate Edinburgh’s skyline) is an old skool boozer with a skittles room. 
“In town, The Devil's Advocate (cool), Hoot the Redeemer (bonkers) and Voyage of Buck are popular. And Panda & Sons (speakeasy style) for cocktails.”
Phil Evans, Creative Director, The Leith Agency

“I love Bramble - they do amazing cocktails. I love Voyage of Buck too, the fit-out is great and was done by our friends Splintr - who are hipster-fying Edinburgh one shop at a time!”
Ian Greenhill, Creative Director, Studio Something

“Go on a night out, we have countless bars – from the old, to the quirky, to the world-class. A night out in the Cowgate (old town) is always good. 

“Hoot The Redeemer (and sister bar Panda & Sons). Novelty, speakeasy, tongue-in-cheek. Dishoom – Client of ours. One of the only 3am bars in Edinburgh. Good cocktails (and amazing food).

"Sneaky Petes – an iconic and impossibly small club, in the heart of Edinburgh's old town. Great gigs and club nights.”
Lewis Phillips, Founder and Creative Director, Campfire



“If you don’t want to just go to pubs you can get out the city really quickly. Portobello beach is probably 20 minutes from the city centre. 

“Then you can go up Arthur’s Seat, which is very famous. It’s an old volcano. And you can run and walk and see a ruined castle. And there’s a little loch and swans and it’s beautiful.

“I think the architecture’s lovely because you get such a mix of Georgian, Victorian, townhouses, bungalows and then new-build glass buildings.”
Marie Owen, CEO, LS Productions

“For fresh air, Edinburgh takes some beating. Loads of beaches are close – the nearest, Portobello, is 10 mins by car. Perfect if you’ve got a dog. 
“You can go kitesurfing on Gullane beach (40 mins away).
“The Botanic Gardens is lovely. As is a walk up Arthur’s Seat (the highest point of the hills overlooking Edinburgh).”
Phil Evans, Creative Director, The Leith Agency

“With a fuck-off big hill like Arthur’s Seat bang in the city, you might think you get all the nature you need in Edinburgh. But if you’ve got a spare day, jump on a train out to the coast to East Lothian. North Berwick is cute and picturesque, plus there’s the Seabird Centre and, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can head out on a boat. Nearby Dunbar – Sunny Dunny – is the sunniest place in Scotland, according to my geography teacher. It’s not as picturesque but there’s lots of surf and big expanses of sand at Belhaven Beach and it’s where John Muir, the founder of America’s national parks, grew up and learned to love nature.”
Laura Swinton, Editor in Chief, Little Black Book

Art & Culture

“The Leith Theatre, Irvine Welsh has been trying to resurrect that. They’re doing a lot of good.

“There’s a thing called Neu Reekie [a play on the city’s nickname Auld Reekie], which is an art, poetry, music thing. And they do events every couple of months.

“There’s a place called The Biscuit Factory in Leith. It’s a four-floor old biscuit factory, funnily enough. And they run pop ups and Irvine Welsh had his book launch there.”
Sarah Drummond, Executive Producer, LS Productions

“Edinburgh has loads of galleries, including the big ones The Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. All have fantastic exhibitions.

Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park and art gallery in the grounds of a country house, is phenomenal.
“Smaller ones – Stills (for photography), Ingleby (contemporary art) and The Fruitmarket Gallery (good for books) are always good.

The Stand comedy club gets some good people.
“Summerhall hosts events and festivals and is a pretty cool venue. 
“The Custom House in Leith is a new space popular with creative types. There’s a gallery space, some shops and you can grab a bloody good coffee.
“The Hidden Door is an arts organisation that takes often disused urban spaces and turns them into temporary venues for emerging artists, musicians and other creative types.
Boom Saloon magazine is championing the arts and creative industries and believes in using them for the common good.” 
Phil Evans, Creative Director, The Leith Agency

“I love the Portrait Gallery, the Botanic Gardens and generally spending some time down in Leith where we are based. I support the mighty Hearts who I enjoy going to watch at the weekend. 

“Hidden Door festival are doing interesting things, as are a non-profit called Boom Saloon. My favourite gigs in Edinburgh are put on by Jamie at Nothing Ever Happens here based out of the arts venue Summerhall. Jordan also runs gigs for kids with his wife and a few of their pals called Major Minor Music Club - it's a really cool idea!” 
Ian Greenhill, Creative Director, Studio Something

“Don’t know if this counts as arts and culture per se, but if you’re into antiques and furniture, Drum Farm Antiques is a gem. It’s just outside Edinburgh, it’s literally a farm with massive corrugated tin sheds just packed with stuff. It’s great if you enjoy a really good rake and there are loads of good steals to be had.”
Laura Swinton, Editor in Chief, Little Black Book


“Try the vaults tour for ghosts (under the city streets).”
Phil Evans, Creative Director, The Leith Agency

“In Edinburgh we have a great National Museum. I went there often when I was very young, but it still makes an ideal chilled day and is always evolving.”
Lewis Phillips, Founder and Creative Director, Campfire

“Edinburgh is home to loads of fantastic free museums – the National Museum  takes you from the days of the Celts and Romans all the way up to Dolly the Sheep if local history is your thing and there’s also amazing collections from all over the world as well as some epic taxidermy (which I always loved to draw as a kid). It’s worth it for the architecture alone – the spectacular vaulted glass ceiling of the original building is a Crystal Palace-inspired feat of Victorian engineering, while the conjoined Museum of Scotland building is a modernist interpretation of ancient Scottish broch towers, clad in local sandstone.

“And if you want to go full goth and immerse yourself in the freaky-deaky side of Edinburgh’s history, there’s medical museum Surgeon’s Hall, home to a pocketbook clad in the skin of notorious serial killer William Burke (one half of Burke and Hare). There’s also Mary King’s Close, allegedly the most haunted street in Britain and the centre of Edinburgh’s 1644 plague. And then there’s the Museum of Childhood, which I’ve always found properly spooky.”
Laura Swinton, Editor in Chief, Little Black Book
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LBB Editorial, Mon, 30 Apr 2018 13:54:35 GMT