8 Great Pizzas in Edinburgh

This is always a hotly contested list and ours comprises pizzas in many different styles, but we enjoyed all of these in one way or another.20141222_200957-300x169

Civerino’s – Meatball and porcini ragu
Now established as part of the friendly family fabric of Edinburgh Italian eateries, Civerino’s is a great place for a quick or slow pizza stop. You can munch by the slice on the go, or stay and take down one on their excellent topping combos.
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Dough – Quattro Formaggi
Seeking to bring a real game-changing approach to takeaway pizza, Dough’s massive wood-fired oven is an awesome sight to behold. Their pizzas are top notch with their four cheese a particular favourite.
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La Favorita – Montanara
The classic Edinburgh pizza place, La Fav has probably been surpassed for pizza excellence just of late, and they seem to draw an inordinate amount of flak for the dubious quality of their delivery service, but they were the trailblazers in bringing really top notch pizza to Edinburgh, so we should be thankful for their excellent work.
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Moratti – Moratti
Home of some late-night pizza excellence, Moratti’s baked egg, chicken and spinach pizza is an absolute beauty. If you’re feeling in charge of your faculties, risk the soft-baked yolk but only if you have a bib to hand as it could go anywhere.
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Origano – Spinacio
Current pizza champs of the city, Origano’s move to larger premises has illustrated their level of popularity, as they’ve been every bit as busy as they were in their previous place, which was a third of the size. Their pizza, in sizes 11”, 14” and 16″, is just spectacular so you must visit soon.
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Peter’s Yard – Vegetarian
With the finest sourdough bases from their baking magicians, Peter’s Yard and Soderberg offer a limited range of toppings, but focus on making them absolutely outstanding. With pizza hubs in both the Old Town and Stockbridge, these are places you want to check out.
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Pizza Mafia – Ham & Mushroom
Some really good pizza is served in the drab location of Princes Mall by the folks at Pizza Mafia. If it was in a different location, I’m convinced this would be one of the more popular pizza slice joints in the city.
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Three Coins – Meat Feast
Nowhere could look a less likely home to pizza excellence than Three Coins. I’m not sure about the rest of their menu, but their pizzas, cooked in no time due to their super-thin bases, are absolutely remarkable.
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7 Places for Splendid Steaks

Scotch beef is some of the best in the world, but until recently there was a dearth of places using that ingredient to best advantage. Here are some of the city’s best purveyors of beefy delights.20140615_214006

Blackwood’s
The unchallenged king of Edinburgh steak places, Blackwood’s is spectacular. Using Highland Drovers beef to best advantage with their Josper grill. It’s the only place where I’d order fillet steak as their fillet has all the flavour of ribeye married with the silky texture of fillet.
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Chez Jules
Still home to the best steak frites in the city, Chez Jules also offers an excellent lunchtime skirt steak and a very decent steak tartare. The value on offer is hugely impressive making this a really tempting spot for regular visits.
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Earthy
You might more readily associate Earthy with bread and veg goodness, but their meaty delights are just as strong. Locally sourced beef is cooked to exacting standards to very good effect.
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Field Grill House
A newcomer to the carnivore scene, Field Grill House brings all the charm of their first restaurant to a more meat-centric menu. Sourced from local butcher Shaw’s, their steaks are of really pleasing quality.
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L’Escargot Bleu
Their steak tartare, made to your exact specification at the table, is as much a great piece of theatre as it is a phenomenally good dish. They often showcase specials of the more unusual cuts of beef, so can be considered a true carnivore’s paradise.
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Twenty Princes Street
Another place giving full vent to their Josper grill, Twenty Princes Street offers a great range of meaty treats, with their lunchtime steak sandwich a particular strength. Their signature city centre location makes their offering very compelling.
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Wildfire
With an atmosphere quite unlike you’d expect from a conventional steakhouse, Wildfire has a very broad appeal. Their steaks are very good and their approach understated and welcoming, making it one of the better places for steak in he city.
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7 Epic Edinburgh Sandwiches

Everyone loves a good sandwich. Here are some of Edinburgh finest:
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Caffe Piccolo
Caffe Piccolo has been a bit of a sleeper success at the heart of the Grassmarket, quietly going about making knockout sandwiches. Their prosciutto and pesto focaccia is a joy to behold and should be munched on a regular basis.
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Cairngorm
Two places have serious claims on the crown of finest grilled cheese sandwich in the city. Firstly, there is Cairngorm, with its patented three-cheese and chilli jam sandwiches proving hugely popular. With excellent coffee at the core of their offering, this is a smart little café that demands your attention.
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IJ Mellis
The second place that aspires to the grilled cheese crown is Mellis. A cheesemonger at heart, it’s no wonder that they have probably the best range of different grilled cheese options. Their Stockbridge tasting room is a wonderful little hideaway in which to sample these sandwiches of distinction.
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Jacob
Jacob does the sandwich fundamentals as well as anyone in the city. Their bread is excellent and their fillings, although sometimes fairly straightforward sounding pack a considerable punch. Their Thai chicken sandwich is a particular favourite and should be added to your list of must-try items, soon.
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Knight’s Kitchen
The herdsman sandwich at Knight’s Kitchen is one of the most impressively bonkers sandwiches in the city. Packing in an extraordinary amount of meat, it’s a meal in itself and guaranteed to chase the hunger away for hours on end.
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O Canto Do Passerinho
A pimped-out croque monsieur filled with steak and sausage then served in secret beer and tomato sauce. Sound pretty crazy? Well, that’s exactly what O Canto Do Passerinho will serve you when you order the Francesinha, a truly epic sandwich that is apparently a cornerstone of Portuguese cuisine. It’s a dish that needs to be eaten to be believed.
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Twenty Princes Street
Twenty Princes Street will serve you the best steak sandwich we’ve come across in its very smart and elegant Princes Street premises. A lunchtime favourite, cooked on their Josper grill, this is a dish that will hit the spot very nicely when you try it.
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5 Brilliant Places for Mr Eion Coffee

Local coffee roaster Mr Eion has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2013. But where are some of the best places to sample his wares. Here are just five of our favourites: 20151024_131830

Cairngorm
When they originally opened, Cairngorm was ploughing the thankless furrow that is trying to make Matthew Algie coffee taste good. They soon teamed up with Mr Eion to develop a custom blend that really suited their needs. It sits very nicely next to their excellent sandwiches and wonderfully appointed little Frederick Street café.
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Colpamia
A roast in much more of the traditional continental style, as suits their Sicilian heritage, Roseburn’s Café Colpamia provides evidence of the sheer range of different coffees that Mr Eion is producing. The café is a really quirky spot, too, with their haggis bruschetta well worth trying.
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The Counter
Having started out with one little police box in Morningside, The Counter has now expanded its operation to include three boxes and a canal barge. They’ve recently had a lovely splash of publicity after winning a competition resulting national TV advertising exposure. This was due recognition for this create coffee and cake business that serves both to a very high standard.
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Gamma Transport Division
Right across the road from Mr Eion’s shop, Gamma Transport Division capitalises on one of modern urban living’s more unexpected associations – great coffee and cycling. A shop of real warmth and charm, even for those who don’t partake of the pedalling, Gamma is well worth a visit for a cracking good coffee.
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Odds & Ends
Smartly appointed Polwarth café Odds & Ends opened towards the end of 2014 and quickly established itself as a very enjoyable place to stop of for coffee and tasty treats. If you haven’t visited yet, make sure to do so soon.
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6 Great Edinburgh Food & Drink Beards

box beardEveryone loves a good beard, from Peggy Hughes to Victoria Coren. Here are some of the finest available in the Edinburgh food and drinks trade.

Beerd
Craft Beerds have been a staple of the real ale world since time began. Taking things to the next step by adding a trucker cap, the St Vincent’s Bar’s Chris has a look that’s part beer aficionado, part cheery man of the woods.
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Blogger Beard
Champion Blog Bearder is Gary from Edin Blogger, who has an unrivalled face hedge amongst the food writing community. It’s a key component of the blog’s branding, which can even be seen adorning bottles of beer brewed in Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen.
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Cocktail Beard
There are many fine purveyors of the facial hair arts in the world of cocktails, but the daddy beard makes his home at the daddy bar, Bramble. Manager Sam has a gloriously extensive chin tapestry that is an absolute joy to behold, from any angle.
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Coffee Beard
I could perhaps have gone for Mr Eion (who would definitely win the coffee moustache contest), the Bearded Barista or Lucasz from Artisan Roast, but my favourite coffee beard make its home on the face of Sandro from Castello Coffee. A fine purveyor of Allpress espresso, Sandro’s luxuriant facial furniture is a constant source of hirsute inspiration.
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Soup Beard
Lord of the Soup Beard is Bruce from Union of Genius. One of the more closely groomed beards in this collection, it plays a key role in aiding soup contemplation, and played a very prominent part in Union’s two successful Kickstarter campaigns.
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Street Food Beard
Toby from Jones & Son, the pulled pork and burger guys, is a great beard sporter. Perfectly judged to deliver extra facial warmth on the cold winter trading days, it’s a street food beard to aspire to.
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8 Restaurant Service Bugbears

Service plays such an important role in the overall experience of dining out. When things go wrong, either with the approach or the execution, it can have such an impact on what might otherwise be an enjoyable evening. Here are a selection of our major service bugbears.

“Is everything OK?”
This can be annoying from at least two perspectives: one of the waiting staff coming to ask of everything is OK annoys lots of people simply by its existence. Why does it need to be asked at all? If things are not right, do you wait for this before raising a concern? I doubt it. But even for fans of this level of over-attentiveness, there’s little worse than being asked the question when you’ve just taken a big bite or spoonful of something and have to choke it down to bark the necessary “fine”, which is the standard response to this annoying irrelevance.20140228_125139

The disappearance
Your arrival is greeted by a smiling surfeit of waiting staff; your attempted departure is met with the ghostly disappearance of anyone who might be able to bring the bill. This one is particularly annoying when coupled with number. Where do they all go?

Card machines – “we’ll come to the table”
When you go to the bar or front desk to pay, it usually means you’re in a hurry or the appearance of the bill has drifted into the land of the ghostly disappeared. So when you’re met with the response, “oh, we’ll bring the card machine/bill to the table”, this is just never going to be good news.

Responses to Tripadvisor reviews
Before you’ve even crossed the threshold of a place, you might check a review site, with Tripadvisor the best one for giving you a really good, broad overview of the types of reactions that people have to places. If a business has chosen to respond to reviews, particularly negative ones, it’s a strong indicator that service attitude issues may lie ahead if you choose to subsequently visit. For every success story in this regard (David Ramsden from The Dogs just about manages to carry things off) there’s many more failures. In Edinburgh look no further than the horror shows associated with Cafe Fish (now closed) and Bruno’s 7 to 7.IMG-20131012-03667

Refolding napkins
Towards the swankier end of the market where cloth napkins live, there seems to be an unhealthy obsession with those napkins being folded at all times. So, when you put down your napkin on the table, either to avail yourself of the washroom facilities or to simply remove the item from your lap for a moment or two, the habit of waiting staff immediately refolding it, either in your presence or when you’re away, is sensationally annoying. LEAVE MY NAPKIN ALONE!

To everything, there is a season
Some places pull some angry looking gurns when you ask for a simple set of condiments, like the salt and pepper shakers. Even if you think your kitchen can’t do anything but perfectly season all the dishes, people have funny tastes so simple requests like this should be met with good grace, as far as possible.

The house rules
Sometimes it’s very easy to spot where management are making the staff do silly things. Whether it’s staff uniforms that make everyone uncomfortable, to “the brand” stifling the personality of the staff, this is a bugbear that crosses chains and independents, big and small, fancy and down-at-heel, and is a constant rankle.

Guys and dolls
“Everything OK, guys?” to a table of one’s great aunt, one’s sister in law, one’s college room mate, one’s dachshund, and one’s fulsomely bearded current squeeze. No – no, it’s not. Find a better thing to say.

5 Near Neighbours You Don’t Want to Confuse

Some neighbourhoods have nothing by high quality, others have nothing but horrors, but quite often places that sit side by side cover that spectrum in neighbouring proximity. Here are some of our faves/not faves in that regard.

Castello Coffee/Strada
Castle Street’s Castello Coffee, home of outstanding Allpress espresso, has some very crappy neighbours. Ignoring Costa, I reckon Strada, the “top end” Italian experience from the geniuses at Bella Italia is the one to bring biggest contrast. A vast, soulless barn, Strada couldn’t be further away from the compact excellence of Castello, with its great soups made fresh daily. Never confuse these two, please.

Espresso
Espresso

Castle Terrace/Il Castello
Continuing the Castle theme, Il Castello is a perfectly decent, traditional Italian right next door to the stratospherically delicious Castle Terrace. I suspect many a kite-flying walk-up punter finding Castle Terrace fully booked has gambled on Il Castello being a reasonable nearby alternative. With expectations set at Castle Terrace level, your likely experience of Il Castello, despite its charms, is likely to be rather compromised.

Divino/Merchant’s
Merchant’s and Divino Enoteca are on opposite sides of Merchant Street and at opposite ends of the quality spectrum. Divino is a beautiful wine bar serving great cheese and nibbles, while Merchant’s is a tired and lacklustre purveyor of staggeringly pish fare. Confuse these two at your peril.20141020_144705

Nanyang/No 8 Lister
The Quartermile has proved a slightly tough nut for some businesses to crack, but Nanyang, a Malaysian restaurant serving brightly spiced classics from that cuisine, has established itself very nicely. Next door at No 8 Lister Square, they continue to flounder with one of the poorer bar restaurants of its type – think 56 North and/or the Blackbird done really badly. Stick with the rendang beef at Nanyang and give the dreadfully poor burgers at No 8 a major swerve.

Paradise Palms/Boteco do Brasil
Boteco do Brasil is a slightly brash, loud Brazilian bar with a pretty disappointing food and drink selection. Paradise Palms is a slightly brash, loud bar with an excellent food and drink selection. With food from the outstanding Ninja Buns and a cocktail selection including a buckfast daiquiri, Paradise Palms is one of our favourite spots in the city, while Boteco just doesn’t quite cut it.

8 Brilliant Edinburgh Burgers

The burger wars in Edinburgh have never reached the fever pitch of Glasgow, but there it’s still the source of many a good pub and online conversation. Here we present 8 places that are rarely part of the core argument, but deliver consistently high quality items.

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BBL
With burgers made on site using beef from Michael Malone’s, and outstanding vegan and veggie burgers, BBL (Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch) is a gem of a place on the Pleasance. With an appreciative audience of Fringe performers during August, their year round burger quality is second to none.
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Broughton Deli
The Broughton Deli is probably better known for fresh salads and flavour-packed brunches, but their burgers, often featuring local producers like Grierson, are outstanding. In tranquil surroundings that are often packed to the gunwales at weekends, the little café oasis is one where you can sample delicious burger glory in wonderfully understated surroundings.
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Crombie’s
The famous Broughton Street butcher Crombie has a slightly less well-known hot food counter, which offers competitively priced and high quality offerings, including excellent burgers, throughout the week. Made on the premises the burgers are an absolute treat which you should sample soon and often.
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Greenmantle
A great place to know about for late night snackage, Greenmantle serve their fantastic Puddledub buffalo burgers until midnight. With a great menu of tempting combos and regularly changing specials, the is one burger purveyor that you should add to your list for a visit.
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Nobles
A great bastion of Leith pub food goodness, Nobles does quality brunches and excellent burgers from their signature Constitution Street premises. Their regularly changing menu always keeps things interesting with a solid commitment to showcasing local produce.
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The Square
The Square has two branches: one just off St Andrew Square, which does a fine line in catering for the lunchtime needs of many of the local offices; and one on Dublin Street, which showcases an excellent and very reasonably priced array of burgers. Presented in a no-nonsense fashion, they’re flavour-packed and really satisfying. Make sure to pay them a visit, soon.
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Twenty Princes Street
With the joys of a Josper grill backing their meaty selection, the burgers at Twenty Princes Street are consistently delivered to a really high level. With views across the city centre, their smart hotel premises give things a touch of class, so this is perhaps the most stylish place to chow-down on a burger in the city.
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Whistle Stop Barber Shop
A newcomer to the burger block, quirky cocktail bar the Whistle Stop Barber Shop has breezed into town with an impressive menu of burgers and other American diner staples. So, next time you fancy a Martini with your burger, this is the place to come.
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