Whenever my friend Ruth chats about the restaurants in Edinburgh that she lunches in, I am honestly baffled. We are both high school teachers so I know that our salary does not cater for foie gras as frequently as she consumes it. What’s her secret to affordable fine dining in Edinburgh? A bit of research and the perfect timing.
Fine Dining in Edinburgh
Hi, let me introduce myself. I’m what you’d call ‘A Real Housewife of Fife’, sassy, classy and just a little bit on the forthright side. I have a penchant for all things sparkly and glittery however my purse strings are controlled by a true Scotsman and there lies the problem. I like to think of myself as someone who can take herself off into the Big City, heels and pradamark; waltzing around the dizzying array of cocktail bars of George Street, drinking prosecco until the wee small hours, always with my best friend at my side. Yet how do you keep this ‘lady what lunches’ lifestyle upon the budget of a teacher? This is a question posed to me frequently by my friends when they stalk my Instagram. So much so in fact, Two Scots Abroad asked me to spill my little secret in an article on affordable dining out in Edinburgh, our glorious capital.
Edinburgh’s affordable fine dining restaurants
It starts when I turn to my t’other half and whisper to him, ‘Lady Q and I are off out on Saturday for a boozy lunch’. I can hear a gulp, then the padlocks on his wallet closing faster than Donald Trump’s staff leaving the Whitehouse. Grinning wickedly, I bring out my iPad (other tablets do exist) and search through names such as The Witchery, The Tower, Wedgwood, Chez Jules, Maison Bleue, The Grain Store, The Wee Restaurant, Mark Greenaway, oh I could simply go on and on and on, for Edinburgh is full of gastronomic delights that will make any tastebuds quiver in anticipation. Yet I know that these will have most of your pockets cry in anguish due to the thought of going bankrupt at the prices already. But here’s the secret, and it’s killing me to tell you this because once it’s out, it’s out and I’ll find it more difficult to get a table. You can eat lunch at these establishments for under £30. Yes, you read that right. Up to 3 courses for under £30. Now I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s a blooming bargain!
Let me give you an example. Wedgwood. Award-winning restaurant on the Canongate in Edinburgh serves a lunch menu from 12-3pm. You walk into this unassuming building and are met by the wonderfully friendly staff. The modern decor suits the plating of the delectable dishes coming from the kitchen. Scottish and European cuisine married together ensures your taste buds are given a delightful dance. Price? For 2 courses you pay £14.95. Sweet tooth? Then 3 takes you up to £18.95. Am I tickling your fancy? This is only the middle of the road pricing.
A predilection for opulence and history? Well, one of Scotland’s most famous restaurants The Witchery is just for you. Be warned, pre-booking is an absolute must. In the shadow of the castle, you couldn’t get a more enchanting setting for such a glorious eatery. And let me tell you, simply walking into this building with its sumptuous velvets, the dark corners where secrets are hidden, the wood where the stories of the past simply ooze out of; you know that you’ve just hit luxury and mystery at its best. Yet lunch is served from 12 until 5.30 and 2 courses in this little piece of heaven, will only set you back £22; or 3 courses for £27. Can I hear a gasp of disbelief? Get booking folks!
Chez Jules, 3 courses under £10
If these are just a little too much for the other half’s wallet, then don’t despair, there’s still one more trick up my sleeve. A little piece of Parisian heaven in Hanover Street. Chez Jules is my special go to when I’m trying to butter up the banker, and yes it always works. Serving lunch from 12 until 4pm you walk into this French bistro thinking that you’ve just stepped straight over to Europe. You’re seated and brought bread, olives and salami – on the house. The water is on the table – ready for you. You’re brought the menu, written on a blackboard and the choice of 3 different items for the 3 courses. You order, the chat and the atmosphere is cosy yet vibrant. However, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, how much will you be out of pocket? The 3 courses will cost you £9.90. No that’s not a mistype, under a tenner!
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So, when you see this Real Housewife of Fife living it up on Instagram; enjoying 3-course meals in these name dropping restaurants; remember that you can too. Edinburgh is full of these amazing bargains to be had if only you put a wee bit of effort in and have a look round. Believe me, if Lady Q and I can break open the padlocks on the Real Scotsman’s wallet, then your lunch out, looking like a champagne lifestyle whatever your budget is, is as easy as stop, search and book.