Eat in World Heritage Style
Eating within the World Heritage Site can be great opportunity to soak in some of the city's historic sights. With over 1,600 listed buildings in the World Heritage Site, many cafes and restaurants will have an interesting tale to tell about its past. Because of the the extraordinary topography of the site, you can also find many places with a fine view across the city's rooftops and skyline.
An extraordinary tale to tell…
For an exclusive private dining experience organise a party in the bank vault of the former Caledonian Insurance Company, and now a part of Amarone at the corner of George Street and St Andrew’s Square. Look out for the heavy metal doors of ‘The Vault’.
Take breakfast, light lunch, or afternoon tea in one of the finest buildings of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Colonnades is located within the Signet Library in West Parliament Square and dates back to 1812. Look out for lavish Corinthian columns, the war memorials and several pieces of antique library furniture.
An in-store café with a touch of Victorian opulence, Debenham's first floor café in Princes Street was once part of the Scottish Conservative Club. It features lavish Corinthian columns, a beautiful curved staircase and three eye catching stained glass windows constructed in 1884, dedicated to the memory of the Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
On the same floor, look out for an oak panelled Victorian library featuring antique books and a bust of Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, Disraeli's great rival, which is a remnant of the Liberal Club which also used to be on this site.
Songkran Thai restaurant, at 8 Gloucester Street, offers an interesting combination of Old Town and New Town in the one building. Built in the 1790s as part of the expanding New Town, the building stones were salvaged from Old Town demolitions at the top of the Mound, where Bank Street now stands.
The Old Town lintel above the north door inscribed 'Fear God Only 1605' was part of the salvage. Also look out for a plaque commemorating the birth here, in 1796, of the landscape painter David Roberts RA.
Snack at the Deacon's House Café at 304 Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile, and you will be dining in the workshop of the infamous Deacon Brodie who was executed in 1788 on a gallows of his own design. Look out for 14th century stonework in the kitchen, and a mural depicting Brodie’s tale, said to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
To enjoy a delicious patisserie at Mimi's Bakehouse in the Canongate you must first pass through the original entrance of an old Edinburgh lane called Gibb's Close. This close was named after coachbuilder Robert Gibb, an eighteenth century resident, but gained notoriety in 1828 when it was the scene of one of seventeen murders by serial killers William Burke and William Hare who sold their victims' bodies for dissection at surgical lectures.
The Café Royal is a stylish Victorian Baroque establishment built in 1861. Look out for its Royal Doulton 'Faience' tile panels depicting famous historic characters. It is thought that the panels were originally exhibited in 1886 at Edinburgh's International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art held in the Meadows.
There is fine Canongate dining at Wedgwood in the heart of the World Heritage Site. Look out for the sculpture outside, said to represent the Emperor of Morocco. Allegedly in the 1600s Andrew Gray was accused of assaulting the unpopular Provost of Edinburgh, but fled the country before his execution. He became a slave of the Moroccan Emperor, but rose through the ranks of the Emperor’s court. It is said that he returned to Edinburgh as a wealthy man, cured the Provost's daughter of plague, married her and they set up home here in the Canongate.
A room with a view…..
Dining in the rooftop Tower Restaurant, above the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, is enhanced by views of the World Heritage Site over Greyfriars and Castlehill. Look out for an aerial view of the statue of Greyfriars’ Bobby, the wee 19th-century Skye Terrier who is famous for keeping vigil at his owner’s grave for 14 years.
Enjoy a slice of the World Heritage Site at the Elephant House on George IV Bridge, with an unusual view of Greyfriars Kirkyard and Edinburgh Castle.
The branch of Zizzi in Roxburgh Court, down Warriston’s Close off the Royal Mile, offers high level views over to the Georgian New Town. Look out for glimpses of the towering Scott Monument and the Balmoral Hotel.
Several upstairs dining establishments in Princes Street from the Mound to the West End offer uninterrupted views of Edinburgh Castle - Waterstones' cafeteria, Debenhams's restaurant, Starbucks, the Royal Overseas Club, the British Home Stores cafeteria, the restaurants of the Old Waverley Hotel, Jenners department store, and the Mercure Hotel.
The Scottish Café and Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound, takes pride in offering freshly prepared ‘slow food’. As you take a leisurely meal, you can take time to enjoy spectacular views of Princes Street Gardens and the Old Town. Look out for the imposing landmark of the Bank of Scotland building.