Just back from a brilliant week at the Edinburgh Fringe where as well as a week of shows in a packed city we ate very well largely without booking or queuing, thanks in part to the lovely people at Edinburgh Foody who directed us to some good places to eat in a city that, London excepted, must have more independent restaurants than anywhere in the UK.
We passed on fine dining at Kitchin or Martin Wishart, and went instead for fish and chips at Seadogs a chain of three good value restaurants in the city centre. Haddock cooked in oatmeal with chips and a glass of wine for less than a tenner was terrific value. Later in the week another branch Amore Dogs stayed open late especially for us when our show overran and fed six of us on pasta and pizza with amazing good grace. Thank you Amore.
We had the same charming service at Under the Stairs, a shabby chic cafe/bar where tables and chairs, G Plan sofas and old armchairs (along with a vintage wireless and singer sewing machine) are set up beneath a beamed, basement serving cocktails and plates of cheese and meat, pasta, fish cakes, and burgers.
More than once we gave up on the street theatre and despondent flyer-givers on the Royal Mile and hung our brollies and raincoats in the dark of Ecco Vino a pleasing wine bar at the bottom of Cockburn Street just off the Mile.
Museum dining has always been a hit and miss affair in Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park Café is OK. The Tiled Hall in Leeds Library serves mediocre food in a stunning setting and though it’s awhile since I’ve visited Golden Acre Park in Leeds the tea room has never been up to much. Even the new Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, which might have done something interesting, disappoints.
They all ought to take a fact-finding trip to Edinburgh where the Royal Botanic Gardens offers not just beautiful gardens but the Gateway Restaurant where you can dine on a sunny terrace overlooking a pond of water lilies and bliss out as we did on a quality tomato and goat’s cheese tart and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc or at the National Gallery of Scotland where a charming maitre d’ brings you proper afternoon tea on a tiered cake stand or a nice piece of homemade Scottish shortbread.
The highlight though was the day we took off for North Berwick and ate at the Lobster Shack on the harbour wall. They only opened in April but were doing a rip-roaring trade in grilled lobster, langoustines, mussels and mackerel with chips in a cardboard box with seagulls wheeling round us and the gannets circling the distant Bass Rock. Licensed, too. Not a crab stick in sight. How about one for Scarborough, Filey, Whitby and Brid?