Last month, my mum and I went on a girl’s weekend to Edinburgh.
It was the first time I’d ever been to the city, and ashamedly Scotland, too. The train journey up from York is a beautiful ride, passing the stunning northern England coastline and crossing the boarder, there are some gorgeous views to admire. The first pro of going on a train journey with a parent – guaranteed train snacks. In our case that meant a Tupperware box full of cake which included a homemade fat rascal. My mum is ace.
As ever before going on a trip, I’d asked for recommendations/researched where to eat. (It gets a bit ridiculous – when putting together an itinerary for a weekend city break, it ends up being pretty much determined by the location of a café or restaurant).
In a bid to find our fit and get our bearings when we first arrived, we went for lunch in the John Lewis café. A colleague recommended it for the views. And boy oh boy, it was worth the over priced sandwich and £2 mineral water in a glass bottle.
The café is encircled by a giant Velux window, giving you a 180-degree view of the city, spanning right out to the sea and the rolling hills. It’s the perfect reminder that you’re in a city that’s encompassed by beautiful countryside. Great for the pano shot.
We’d agreed that our first evening we’d eat somewhere cheap, and our last night would be our ‘posh’ night when we’d hit the town and go for a cocktail after a nice meal.
Cheap, but nice. To me, that screams Italian.
Civerinos is serves small plate, Italian street food and pizza place that’s in a cracking location – right a the bottom of the Royal Mile.
It’s worth noting – you can’t book a table unless you’re in a big group, so you may have to wait for a table.
Plenty of neon lightage and miscellaneous graffiti inside – it’s a million miles away from the traditional, romantic, terracotta walls and gingham table clothed Italian restaurant.
The menu consists of ‘snacks’ and starters, salads, big things to share, pasta and pizzas.
For drinks, there’s Peroni Red (always a good sign), and wine comes either by the glass, a carafe, or a bottle. We went for a carafe of Pinot Grigio.
The pizzas are all proper, stone baked, sourdough – a select few are available by the slice as well as whole. Mum and I decided to share a pizza for our main – we went for the Melanzane Parmigiana (grilled aubergine and parmesan) (£13). To start, we shared the Arancini (£4)(I find it difficult to ever resist Arancini) and the Meatballs and Porcini (£5).
Since holidaying in Sicily, my mum reckons she’s a connoisseur of Arancini and she assured me, these were JUST like the ones they had over there. That meant; al-dente Arborio rice, plenty of cheese, and diced vegetables. They were a treat.
The meatballs were gorgeous. I often think, sometimes when you make meatballs or a Bolognese that good, the pasta accompaniment isn’t even necessary. You could tell they’d been cooked for hours, as they melted in your mouth. The garlic flat bread acted as the perfect spoon too.
The pizza. Well, it was everything you want from a proper stone baked pizza. Thin, crispy, garlicky, cheesy, more-ish, makes you question how you physically managed to fit something of that circumference inside your stomach. Perfect.
My mum and I have a tendency to always order tiramisu whenever it’s on a menu, so we had to give Civerinos Amaretto version a try (£4.50). Since visiting Milan, I have learnt that a sweet, super-chilled mascarpone layer is essential. This one definitely lived up to the requirement.
Civerinos is a fantastic, relaxed place, with an atmosphere I’d imagine a New York pizzeria to have; the buzz, the edginess, big groups of friends having an after work beer and snack, a waiter running around frantically but always smiling. I’ve already recommended Civerinos to a friend who lives in Edinburgh!
Similar to the routine I explained in my Dublin post, we tended to eat a large, late breakfast out, have a ‘cakey’ snack in the afternoon and then an evening meal.
I HAD to include Loudons in my list of recommendations for breakfast/brunch spots.
I read about Loudons in a Guardian article called ’10 of the best Edinburgh hangover cafes’ – I knew it was unlikely my mum and I would be hungover, but food that’s been labeled a hangover cure is usually amazing regardless of whether you have one or not.
Loudons is a café/bakery on Fountainbridge – a great spot as it’s hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street, yet is only a 10-minute walk away.
It’s a large, open plan space inside, and very ‘Ikea-ee’ my mum and I both commented. We arrived at about 9.30am, as one of only about 3 tables, but by the time we left the place was packed.
All of the cakes and breads at Loudons are baked on-site, in the bakery downstairs.
The breakfast menu is impressive, boasting pretty much everything from; eggs benedict, (with the addition of chorizo, & black pudding, avocado & crayfish, pulled pork, spinach, bacon) just eggs, just toast, pastries, Bircher muesli, pancakes, superfood pancakes, a quinoa breakfast power bowl, and French toast. The list goes on.
On top of that (yes there is more!) the Loudon ‘Benny specials’ (all £10.95) consist of the cafe’s several variations of eggs benedict. Being in Edinburgh, we went for the Cullen Skink Benny, when in Rome and all that. This consisted of an English muffin topped with deconstructed Cullen Skink (smoked haddock, carrot, mashed potato etc.), with the usual poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
Although a little pricier than I’d usually pay for brunch, this couldn’t have been more worth it. I can honestly say it was the best breakfast I’ve ever had. The muffin wasn’t chewy, as shop bought ones often are. The hollandaise wasn’t gloopy, but silky-smooth. A perfectly cooked egg, of course, and the smokiness from the smoked haddock in the potato mix was superb.
As soon as I got home and back into work, I relayed my Loudons experience onto my colleague who is a huge fan of Edinburgh and visits often, and had given me a few pointers on where to go.