I think the information you are looking for is going to be rather thin on the ground for that part of Scotland.
Scotland the Best (book) as well as the Viamichelin website and Good Food guide might be good places to start, then followed by yelp and tripadvisor (shudder).
All I can recommend North of Inverness is Boath House (slightly parallel actually). Very good food and keenly priced wine. One michelin star.
Good point. Although there is decent South indian food in TO I think the North Indian/Bangladeshi is better here in the UK.
Also for the love of all things good DON'T eat any Asian food here in the UK. I know that Toronto is not Vancouver but even the average places around Spadina destroy our best attempts at reasonably priced asian food.
Tailend has tanked in my opinion with arrival of new owners. Chips are still ok but the quality of the fish has dropped. I know Tdot is in the middle of a continent but I found the halibut and other things to be pretty good for fish and chips so you would likely be disappointed. Everything is frozen and processed at sea nowadays regardless. If you have a car go to Mohr fish in Callendar or the Anstruther chippy instead. I would try Wisharts/Ondine for lunch instead of Tailend if you want seafood. A bit more expensive but worth it. Dinner there would be stratospheric in price.
Konditormeister is pretty good, nothing exceptional though. Try and seek out some rowies (scottish squished croissant w/lard).
I would strongly recommend Gardeners cottage for something interesting and Scottish.
Other scottish things -
Dining room in the whisky club on Queen st
Stop in at Cadenhead's on the royal mile for a tasting, also every Thursday do a full tasting session in the bar across the road. See http://www.jollytopertastings.co.uk/w...
Black pudding and egg roll from Crombies on Broughton st in the morning. Brown sauce not optional. Good after the whisky tasting.
I would give a finger to eat at Lai Wah Heen again. Love that place. Best dim sum outside Hong Kong.
All the asian supermarkets sell the Chongga brand in several different flavours and sizes.
There are also two Korean restaurants, Kim mini meals in the southside and Shilla on Dundas st.
I reckon Shilla is better but neither are that great. Someone open a decent Korean BBQ place soon!
Here is my google map of Edinburgh - http://goo.gl/maps/5fRWz
It's similar to a lot of what other people have said although I think I cover a bit more ground as well as some more popular bars and a bit more recent info. If there are any obvious omissions it's because I don't really rate them!
Thought I would share this with you, it's not only food but there are about 15 of my favourite places to eat here in Edinburgh from cheap to high end.
If there are any glaring omissions it is likely on purpose. Although this city is flooded with Michelin stars (5 at the last count, another likely to follow as well at the Pompadour), after eating at all of them numerous times the only one I can really recommend is Martin Wisharts .
Feel free to share!
There are some good dishes at Rainbow Arch. Have you ordered from the Cantonese menu or the regular one? Mosque kitchen isn't that great but for the price I would consider it good value. (This was originally posted to the couchsurfing website so peoples budgets are a bit more limited).
Agree with you about the relative standards of food, obviously I don't think that foreign cuisines here are anything as good as what you would find in a major city (New York, London and Toronto for example), but for Edinburgh they're nae bad.
Looking to try Mezbaan just the prices have put me off (south indian food is supposed to be cheap!), plus there is a very good place in Aberdeen where I can stock up on dosa and idli at half the price.
I'll try your suggestions for bread, although I have been using the No-knead bread recipe that was on the Bitten blog and it makes pretty amazing home bakes. The Clarks website looks nice maybe get up there tomorrow if its not pissing it down again!
With regards to Wisharts, eaten there several times and its been good but not amazing. I think Kitchin is better but to be honest I have had a few dud meals there as well (gritty spinach!). I like the place more overall though as its less informal and the style of cooking is more playful.
Yet to try the plumed horse. I would check that out if your interested in Wisharts standard of dining. Those three restaurants make up the 'Michelin mile' of the Leith docks.
I'm going to Lai Wah Heen in toronto next week for dim sum and can't wait! Now thats a proper food city.
Here is a post I made to the edinburgh couchsurfing website. Thought it might be useful here as well.
Its meant for those not on a cheaper budget but a value based one. I think that applies to all that use chowhound. This is not a decor guide or restuarant 'experience' post, more amazing food in sometimes not so nice places.
A few people have asked me on good eats.. I have included them here for future reference. Any other ideas let me know, I've tried most places in Edinburgh but only put ones here I think are good value for money.
Some places I like are below. (you will have to search for them on google to get an exact fix)
I J mellis, 2 locations, Cheesemonger - amazing selection of cheese and some good bread, if the weather is nice you can get everything for a picnic here to eat in the princes st gardens or on top of calton hill. This is a definite recommend, there is one on Victoria st which you will walk down as it is one of the busiest tourist streets going to the grassmarket.
For fishmongers I use a few different ones depending on what it is I am buying. Armstrongs down in stockbridge is a pretty safe bet for everything other than mussels. Eddies in Marchmont is amazing, there are also 4 fruit and veg places round the corner from it where you can pick up lots of cheap veg. Can do all you shopping from little places in about 10 minutes.
Real foods (one in tollcross and another on broughton st) popular with the earthy crowd, veg is a rip off but for pulses and dried fruit is a major plus. Is organic\wholefoods.
I'm yet to find a proper good butchers so can't really help there. Maybe someone else could? Tried several but none of any great consistency.
The Dogs, bistro type food, very popular and busy, the italian restaurant on the ground floor run by the same person isn't as good, you want the place upstairs.
Urban angel across the road does really good breakfasts but they are not so cheap.
Roseleaf pub down in Lieth is a good secret place with great food and also great breakfasts.
If you want to splash out The Kitchin is my favourite restaurant (25 pounds for the 3 course lunch, dinner is tres cher) but worth every penny, this is Michelin starred dining though (one of three in Edinburgh but definitly the best and least stuffy).
The mosque kitchen off south clerk st is good filling curry, they do lots of vege options as well, its cooked in oil rather than ghee and you can eat for 4 pounds a person, you sit outside but under covers so best not on a suepr cold day.
There is a very good chinese where you can eat excellent dim sum for around 12 pounds a head. I made a post on some good things to order here.. Its called the Rainbow Arch on the top of morrison st. Don't be put off by the decor, kicks the pants off of chop chop down the road for half the price. Tried the aubergine hot pot and dry fried beef ho fan, both definite recommendations.
The best fish and chips by far is the Tail End, its halfway down leith walk, they have a sit in place as well. The queue for the takeaway is busy all day long! I would go for the haddock over the cod.. Alba D'Oro is ok as well but they have rested on their laurels too long and dont cook the fish to order, also no lemon wegdes and mushy peas.
Well thats a few places, in my opinion the curry in Edinburgh isn't that great, there are a few places you could pay lots for and get mediocre food (compared to Glasgow..). Everyone bangs on about Kebab Mahal but I have eaten there off and on for 8 years but its nothing to make the effort for. Food standards there have definitly slipped.
I haven't recommended any Scottish/fish places here as I would cook food like that at home and I think they are overpriced and for tourists in Edinburgh.
I come from a fishing family so can't abide paying through the nose for something that doesn't cost much to produce.
EDIT Since I posted this I've been to Kampong Ah Lee on Clerk St. Its an awesome Malaysian restaurant. Definite recommend. Many good dishes at a good price.
For ideas about food the only decent reviewer I have found in the Scotland is Joanna Blythman.
You can use the the list or other local papers for reviews here but they are biased to not giving a bad review and therefore loosing advertising revenue.
Hope this helps someone to have a better meal.
I'm an Edinburgh resident, flitting between Aberdeen and far flung places in the world.
Your right about not many people posting on here. I've contributed a little to some topics, I think you popped up on one where I waxed lyrical about the joys of the rat dumplings from Rainbow Arch on Morrison St..
Its probably too late to add this now but was back in Edinburgh recently for a week of the festival.
Kitchin blew Wisharts right out of the water. Was amazed, portion size was almost too big. Had an ox tongue starter that was to die for. Shared the octopus carpaccio with razor clams because it looked so good and it didn't disappoint either.
Tried to go back on the sunday with the in-laws, but knowing my luck it was closed.
Bervie chipper in stonehaven is pretty good. Its not much of a detour off the A90 on the way to Aberdeen, only around a mile from the dual carriageway. I presume that's the route you are taking.
If you do stop in Stonehaven then I'd suggest going to Dunnotar Wine and Spirits. Its a small independent off license who specializes in whisky and wine. If you are needing information on going to any distilleries or like a nice drink I would recommend speaking to the owner. His name is Sandy (he is a friend so its a bit of a plug but he is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate people about fine drinking).
There are a few nice places for fish and chips if you take a longer route around St. Andrews but then your drive will go from 2.5 hours to more like 4.
The Ashvale in Aberdeen used to have a good reputation but I would avoid as its gone downhill in the last few years.
I've been to nearly all the places you have listed above. The only one I would hesitate to recommend is Nargile (I presume the one in Aberdeen) as the only turkish place in Aberdeen its ok, but it sounds like you have extensive dining experience and it might be pretty run of the mill.
If money is no object in Edinburgh I would recommend:-
Number One in the Balmoral
I've been to all three and I can't really put one forward more than others. All do very good scottish/french fare. Tom Kitchin focuses a little more on the offal and whole animal approach (like Fergus Hendersons in London). They are all Michelin star level, money no object type places and the fish or shellfish you get there will be miles better than any of those medium range price places you mentioned in your post above. I haven't been to Number One in a while so you might want to check more before going.
There isn't any good Thai food in my opinion, the standard of Italian is ok but not as good as you might find in a major metropolis, I've been disappointed with Italian cuisine (outside Italy of course) ever since I ate at Terroni's in Toronto.. Valvona and Corolla is worth the stop though.
I would wait for fish and chips until you eat it in a small seaside town, although L'Alba D'Oro does make a mean fried squid which is probably worth it. Cafe Royal is to be avoided you are right it is a tourist trap.
If your going to use the List to check out restaurants in Edinburgh and Glasgow I would take its reviews with a pinch of salt. The List has been known not to give the most impartial reviews. I'd use a combination of the List, the Herald, The Scotland the Best guide book as well as the AA website to try and gauge an accurate review.
I ate at the Three Chimneys recently and also Monachyle Mohr, both were good but the Mohr was better (although the salads at the Three Chimneys are wonderful). Colbost is a lovely place, just be sure to bring the midge repellent. If your into shellfish there is another place on the Isle of Skye called Loch Bay seafood restaurant which is good, its right on a pier and fish is on par with the Three Chimneys but not done with the same kind of finesse, ingredients or have as quality side dishes but maybe more fun.
I've done an extensive post on Aberdeen if your looking for lunch places. You can find it here..
I spent 5 years in Edinburgh at university and still go back frequently. Hopefully i've been able to help.
For dumplings (from which I presume you mean dim sum) I would recommend the Rainbow Arch just off Lothian Road. Its looks like a dive, the toilets are awful and was even closed down for health issues (although promptly re-opened a week later). Please don't let that put you off though as the food is second to none if you order well and I have been many many times. Somethings I would definitly recommend.
Octopus Cakes with a delicious ginger/chilli vinegar dipping sauce.
Thats what I normally order plus one of the vegetable sides, either gai lan, choy sum or the other chinese vegs available lightly fried in garlic or ginger.
Just make sure to ask for the dim sum menu, the euro-chinese isn't that great. They served it til 3 in the morning which makes it a great late
Thanks for the seconding of my recommendations. I've used Chowhound extensively over N America and found it a fountain of information and wondered why there isn't anything similar in the N. East. I thought maybe everyone could try and do a bit for Aberdeen. I agree with you about the Foyer as you said it can be very inconsistent to the point I don't eat there any more. I've been to Musa for a coffee and the menu looked ok but its also more of a lunch thing I presume.
Would definitely re-recommend the Finzean estate farm shop. The meat platter is very good with several different salads and chutneys all with a variety of sprouts and other healthy treats. Been back there a few times since previously posting.
Right I'll try and make this brief. You haven't specified price or type of food. If your looking for modern Scottish food done with precision you have come to the wrong town. I would head to Edinburgh or Glasgow for decent Scottish food (which is somewhat of a misnomer as our modern Scottish food is pretty much French with more local ingredients).
Fish and Chips is our local dish, but in Aberdeen I think the only decent one is in Torry, can't remember the name. Bervie chipper in Stonehaven is alright, its the home of the deep fried mars bar.
You'll get a decent feed at the Marcliffe (Aberdeen's premier hotel) but you'll pay through the nose. Its traditional 5 star hotel fare.
Miltons, out near Crathes Castle is decent, a bit heavy on the wine/balsamic/veal reductions at times. The venison is pretty good and you can check out Crathes castle while your at it. Its about 14 miles outside of Aberdeen. Going to set you around 10-15 pounds a main course. Its the only real place where you can get 'Scottish' food if that's what your after. Very nice setting just by the river Dee.
Finzean estate farm shop out past Banchory (35 odd miles from Aberdeen) does very good food, its on a big estate, cheap and local produce but more of a lunch thing.
If your after Dim Sum I would recommend the Manchurian, its in the city centre. Cheap and quick, lots of Chinese eating. Next door to a large Chinese supermarket. This is good for Scotland but no way as good as what you would find in china town in a big city.
The best food in Aberdeen centre in my opinion is Cafe Boheme on windmill brae. Its french done simply and very good. If your going I would recommend the pre-theatre menu as its 15 pounds for 3 courses. Amazing value in my books. Otherwise its expensive. The fish is good but you are looking at 18 pounds a main. They use local ingredients and the head waiter has a wee boat which he'll go out and catch lobsters during the not so stormy season.
Yatai is a Japanese that is alright. Just gone up in price, used to be better value for money but the chef/owner John is a bon viv and does things right.
Places I would avoid. Silver Darlings, v expensive fish restaurant overlooking harbour. Over priced and over rated. Cafe 52, overpriced and poorly executed fusion scottish food that is popular with the style over substance crowd. Any of the Olive branch restaurants, just rubbish. The Ashvale, fish and chip place won lots of awards circa 98' but crap now.
If you have the chance to travel I would recommend Monachyle Mhor hotel. Its a pain in the ass to travel to from Aberdeen being in the Trossachs. But I ate there recently and its some of the best food I have had in Scotland. Probably 3.5 hours drive from Aberdeen. Its on a par with the best food I have eaten during my travels.
Anyways hope this helps. I've lived in Aberdeen on and off for a few years now. If your coming in August head out into the country and go look for mushrooms. The chantrelles and ceps (porcini to the italians) will be coming into play round then. People here don't really know what to look for so its a free for all. If your going to cook then I would recommend the store at Newton Dee for decent breads and organic foods/veg. There are lots of other delis springing up (over-priced) but I would suggest Rock Salt and Snails as a good one.
Any clarification reply back or do a google.
Hope this helps. Sorry if its disappointing, but Aberdeen's not the best for food. If your a good chef you head south, people's palates are better.