The Edinburgh Fringe is a frantic blur of hard-hitting drama, raucous comedy and eclectic musical numbers. But after digesting all of that culture there is always, always room for some refreshments. Here's my sunrise to sundown guide on where and what to eat inside and outside the festival fever in Edinburgh.
They say it's the most important meal of the day and you should eat it like a king, so to start my guide here's my top recommendation for breakfast in Edinburgh: Loudons Cafe. Loudoun's is a spacious, airy hideout for bustling weekend brunches or just a quiet coffee and cake.
We ordered some of their specialities - the Loudon's Benny and the Cullen Skink Benny. Their signature interpretation of the breakfast classic was a gluten free English muffin with spinach, warm smoked salmon and poached eggs caped in tumeric, chive and lime yogurt. The Cullen Skink Benny was a deconstructed cullen skink rosti, poached eggs and a classic hollandaise sauce. Both hit the spot.
My first lunch suggestion is a real gem. it's local, delicious and staggeringly good value for money. Situated on George IV Bridge, The Outsider Restaurant is the headlining act that stole the show.
Our mains featured steamed mussels with basil cream, bacon, pine nuts, parmesan and fries. The aromatic basil, intense salty bacon and velvet cream were the perfect accompaniments to the succulent mussels.
Their seared fillet of sea bass with steamed mussels and a heady coconut curry broth was also spectacular.
Good things come in threes, so our third main was chargrilled venison and stout rarebit with wild leeks, plums and a burnt onion and sherry chutney. The dish was punchy and precise with its iron richness supported by the sweet sour chutney and plums.
The climax was chocolate and espresso pavé with molasses ice cream.
Oh, and the views across the rooftops to Edinburgh Castle were alright too.
Ondine is an alternative lunch spot, situated just down the road with box views looking down to the madness of the Royal Mile.
Opting for the lunch set menu our opening act was Loch Fyne oysters with a cranberry and pomegranate granita. Refreshing, crisp and left us wanting more.
The beetroot, goats curd and hazelnut salad also made a strong debut.
Next came the main courses. The delicately seasoned chargrilled squid, watermelon, tomato and feta salad was refreshing and bold.
And the brown crab, pea and tarragon risotto was gloriously rich and indulgent.
Their mackerel curry with tomato, coriander, onion and chickpeas was equally impressive.
The grand finale was a chocolate and coffee pot with financiers. Bitter coffee crumb masking great depths of silk soft chocolate mousse.
We also had macerated strawberries, ice cream and honeycomb. The chorus of strawberries was simple British summertime in a bowl.
A dash of tea and cake in the afternoon is a wonderful thing. Speaking as a tea expert my top choices for the best brew and slice in town are:
Leo + Ted, 36 Leven Street.
Lovecrumbs, 115 West Port
Both bespoke coffee houses with mugfuls of charm.
Finally it's dinner time and this one has a fiery Latin twist. El Cartel is a little pocket of Mexico in the heart of New Town.
We opened with some white peach and coconut frozen margaritas, they were absolute nectar!
The menu invites you to order a selection of small plates to share. Here's what we had:
Cod, chipotle crema and pomegranate salad taco
Sweet potato, red onion, sheep's cheese and pumpkin seed taco
Chorizo and sweet potato quesadilla with sheep's milk cheese
Battered avocado and salsa verde taco
Salmon ceviche special
Guacamole with plantain crisps
Their food is authentic and earthy but also packed with modern quirks and effortless style. All to be recommended.
And that was just some of my festival finds...
If you've got any Edinburgh reviews or recommendations I'd love to hear from you!
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.