Edinburgh Reviews

Last weekend we were in Edinburgh. We had a very lazy weekend doing almost nothing except walking from hotel to restaurant to pub. I thought you might be interested in reading about the places where we ate and drank.

The Golden Dragon, Castle St. It was late when we got to Edinburgh, so we just went out and stopped at the half-decent looking place to eat. It might have looked half-decent, but it really wasn’t. Some of the worst Chinese food I’ve ever had. And overpriced too. Best avoided.

The Mitre, High St. Saturday lunch was spent in a random pub on the Royal Mile. Nice pint of Guinness and some really good pub food.

Wedgwood, Canongate. Picked at random from the “what to do in Edinburgh” leaflet in our hotel room, this was a fabulous find for dinner on Saturday evening. Top quality modern British food in great surroundings. And with really friendly and efficient staff. We’ll definitely be going back here and I recommend that you give it a try too.

Tolbooth Tavern, Canongate. A quiet drink after dinner. But we headed west, down the hill and further away from the castle. We’ve been in this pub before. It’s nothing special, but the beer is good and it’s always pretty quiet even on a Saturday night. A nice change to pubs only ten minutes walk away up the hill where you stand no chance of getting a seat.

The Witchery, Castlehill. We were too late to book for dinner in the Witchery so we settled for a relatively late Sunday lunch. This is certainly my favourite Edinburgh restaurant. It may well be my favourite restaurant in the UK. Wonderful food in a really impressive building. Oh, and the it has the largest wine list of any restaurant I’ve ever been in – it’s a book.

Mercat Bar, West Maitland St. After the big meal at the Witchery for lunch we only wanted a snack in the evening. The Google Places directory on my G1 said that the Mercat was the closest decent bar to our hotel – so off we went. It was almost empty for most of the time we were there but the staff were friendly and the food was good. The cheeseboard enormous and rather scuppered any plans of only having a light snack.

Stockbridge Tap, Raeburn Place. This was a random place we were walking past at lunchtime. It looked nice, so we went in. Three hours later, we emerged having had some of the best home-cooked pub food that we had ever eaten. Nice pint too. I think it was called Spooky or something like that. Nowhere near the centre of the city, but if you’re ever near Stockbridge I recommend checking it out.


Reviews of York

We were in York last weekend, so here are some quick reviews of some of the things we did. Only time to do half of them today. More tomorrow.

Galtres Lodge
The hotel we stayed in. It can’t really be beaten for location. It’s right in the centre of York less than five minutes walk from the Minster in one direction and the Shambles in the other. Location is about all it has going for it though. The room we had was very small and cramped. When we first arrived we thought it didn’t have a toilet. Then we found it hidden in a cupboard. Had it cost us £50 or so a night we’d have been quite happy, but it was double that and not really worth it.

The Olde Starre Inn
Pretty much the first pub we came across and as it is the oldest pub in York we though we’d try it out. Not very impressed to be honest. It was a bit dingy and there was a strange smell. The selection of drinks was ok and the staff were friendly enough, but it didn’t have much of an atmosphere. Of course that might be because we were there at about 5pm on a Thursday afternoon.

The Bengal Brasserie
We quite fancied an Indian on our first night. The sign in the window said that this place had been listed as one of the thirty best curry houses in the UK. The award was in 2005. Things have obviously changed a bit. It wasn’t the worst curry we’d ever had, but I’m sure there were far better places to go.

The Old White Swan
We thought we were going for a quite drink. Then we saw the band setting up in the corner. Turned out it was a jazz band. Not a bad jazz band all in all, but we left when they started getting their mates up out of the audience to sing. It felt a bit like we were intruding on a private party. The pub seemed nice though. And their sausage selection looked very impressive. We would have gone back to try some if we hadn’t discovered the Guy Fawkes Inn.

National Railway Museum
Does exactly what it says on the can. Lots and lots of railway engines in a couple of huge rooms. And it’s free to get in, so you can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth. We spent an enjoyable hour or so there. They have a “Yorkshire Eye” there too. We didn’t bother with that.

St William’s Restaurant
We had a very nice lunch in the restaurant at St William’s College, which is attached to York Minster. Had it been just a little warmer, we would have sat out in the courtyard, which looked like a really nice place to spend an hour or so.

Richard III Museum
This was one of the highlights of the weekend. The tiny museum is in one of the gatehouses in the city wall. It’s a really strange museum, mainly because it doesn’t have any exhibits. Mostly, it consists of a load of posters on the wall which explain why you shouldn’t believe a word you read in Shakespeare’s play. It’s obviously a passion of the chap who set it up. On the day we went, he was manning the shop and was very pleased when my wife bought most of the stock to use as material in English lessons.

York Minster
Of course, no visit to York would be complete without a visit to the Minster. We bought the “see everything” ticket, which was cheaper than usual as the Treasury was closed for maintenance. Our ticket included a visit to the tower which involved climbing 275 steps up a really narrow spiral staircase. I’m glad I did it, but I won’t bother again. By the time I got to the top I was too knackered to really appreciate the view.

Guy Fawkes Inn
I didn’t know that Guy Fawkes was born in York. Apparently this is the house where he was born. It’s right in front of the Minster and therefore only a few minutes walk from our hotel. Once we discovered this place we didn’t visit any other pubs. It had a really nice atmosphere, very friendly and helpful staff, a decent selection of drinks and great food. I can’t really think of any way it could have been improved. Oh, and it’s a hotel too. So you can actually stay in the room where Guy Fawkes was born. Room 10, I’m told.