Tempt your taste buds with a feast of global cuisine at the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival 2018

Returning for the fourth year, the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival 2018 offers locals and visitors a marvellous opportunity to dine around an eclectic range of bars, bistros and brasseries.  Following the colourful Christmas lights and Hogmanay street party, it’s the ideal time to celebrate to brighten up the winter season.  This popular initiative is created by Essential Edinburgh to showcase our first class dining destination and superb Scottish hospitality:

The Festival is a wonderful way to highlight our blossoming restaurant scene and showcase the diversity on offer. In Edinburgh, you really can go on a culinary journey around the world, and the city is bursting with different styles, flavours and menus, all served up to a world class standard.’ Roddy Doyle, Essential Edinburgh

The theme of the 2016 Festival was to entice people to try something new and it’s certainly the motto again with the focus on new places to eat as well as great global cuisine.  To promote the launch of the Festival, a group of chefs and restaurateurs paid homage to the iconic New York ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ ..

Lunch atop a Skyscraper

…transported to a girder here with a backdrop of the city’s architectural landmarks.

Sky-high dining in Edinburgh (2018)

The Edinburgh Retaurant Festival line up shows Kandice Rosser, eteaket, Andrei Doja, Gusto, Eric Garnier, The Ivy on the Square, Anand Ghotikar, Dishoom, Jamie Robertson, Gaucho, Mateusz Warzocha, 1780, Raymond Sutherland, Badger & Co. Natasha Goldie, Las Iguanas, Fraser Spratt, Jenners and Dawid Rompca, Wahaca.

The Festival runs from 5 – 25 February 2018, with a fabulous programme of food and drink events to tempt your taste buds around a couple of dozen or so cool, contemporary and classy restaurants.  Scottish, British, Indian, Italian, Thai, South American and hot Mexican flavours can be sampled around town from Amarone  – via Browns, Chaophraya, Contini, Element, Hard Rock Cafe, Rosehip, Tigerlily, Taco Mazama – to the Voodoo Rooms.

Eteaket – elegant cups for tea and treats

Each partner restaurant is offering special discounts, Festival menus, speciality cocktails and delectable desserts.  Good food for gourmands is complemented by inventive cocktails, wine, beer, fine teas and tipples along the way.

So, what’s Cooking?

The Moveable Feast is back after sell out success last time.  Embark on a magical mystery tour on foot to enjoy five delicious courses touring around five locations – starting with fizz and canapés, then starter, main course, dessert and a final nightcap, served up around the city centre.  The feast sets off on 6, 13 and 20 February. Advance Booking essential.

Having experienced this brilliant and highly entertaining concept at the ERF 2016,  some Restaurants suggested that it could run year round or certainly through the summer season. (Essential Edinburgh, please take note!)

New for this year is the Secret Dining Experience on 15 February where lucky guests who grabbed a ticket, meet at St. Andrew Square and are then escorted to the undisclosed and surprising dining venue.

An innovative Pop Up “Movies and Shakers” cinema will be on offer at Harvey Nichols Forth Floor combining a Movie and a Meal with a cocktail, followed by a sport themed film: Jerry Maguire (13 February)  and Cool Runnings (27 February ).  And, of course, a bucket of Pop Corn, is supplied.

To ring the changes, join in the Cooking with Beer Dining Experience.  1780 Restaurant on Rose Street is joining forces with The Ferry Brewery on 15 February and with Cross Borders Brewing on 22 February, when you can tuck in to a 3 course meal or selection of tapas, with the food expertly paired with selected beers and craft ales.

The Festival map covers a wonderful selection of eateries around St. Andrew Square, Rose Street, George Street and Princes Street.

Having wined and dined my way around a few of the Restaurants taking part, here is a taster of what to expect from recent reviews:

Element Bar and Bistro

Element: “offers a true sense of tradition in its design and decor: blue panelled walls, tweed armchairs, antique curios and art deco lamps. Brunch (served 10am to 5pm daily), lunch and dinner .. imaginatively created dishes, reinvented pub favourites and cool cocktails  in a casually sophisticated wine bar-gastropub environment.”

Element offers a Scottish themed menu for the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival: £20 for 2 courses, £25 for 3 courses, with an optional whisky flight per course. 

Cadiz:  “Seafood, Cava, Sherry, Wine, Cocktails – the taste of sunny Andalucia comes to Edinburgh.  Oysters, Calamari, Crab Cakes, Scallops, Lemon Sole and Lobster, as well as Scottish ribeye and fillet steaks for the carnivore. For a quick snack, drinkers are welcome to take a high stool at the Bar for Champagne or Cocktails – perfectly matched with a platter oysters.”

Cadiz, George Street

Visit Cadiz for a special Festival menu of superb Spanish food – £16.95-£20.95 for  2/3 courses

Contini:  ” Viktor and Carina are passionate, pedantic and purist about seriously good Italian food and their modern approach is an inspired, artistic vision. The motto is fresh, simple, seasonal, specialising in quality Italian produce. Since 2004, Contini Ristorante has been the D&G, the Ferrari, the Versace of eating and drinking enhanced with fashionable style.  Bellisimo!”

Indulge in a complimentary Bomboloni (home made doughnut flavoured with caramel and limoncello) for dessert when ordering a starter and main course.

The classy Cocktail and Wine Bar at Contini

Dishoom:“From Bombay with Love – the inspiration behind Dishoom were the Iranian cafes in Bombay opened by immigrants in the early 20th century.  Authentic furnishings, chandeliers, mirrors, fans, faded photographs and green leather banquettes, reminiscent of a railway carriage. From breakfast to late night cocktails, the atmosphere is vibrant and buzzing …..perhaps just like the Iranian cafes.”

Lamb Raan bun

Experience the Lamb Raan Bun special .. juicy, slow-cooked pulled Scottish lamb in a soft sourdough bun or book a party table for cocktails in the Permit Room bar.

Badger & Co:  “The curious name is from “Wind in the Willows,” the riverbank tales about Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger, by Kenneth Grahame who was born at this address on 8th March 1859. This elegant Townhouse features a sequence of colourfully designed salons – Bar, cosy Lounge and stylish Dining Room.  Homely,  classic British dishes + cocktails, wines, beer = fictionally inspired feast”.

ERF offer at Badger & Co: 3 courses and a drink for just £22.50

Traditional dishes at Badger & Co.

This is an appetising Festival for Foodies to celebrate the flourishing ‘dining out’ atmosphere around the Capital –  which boasts more restaurants per head of population than any other city in the UK.  So be inspired to try somewhere new and exciting different cuisines during the Festival .. and through the year.

Bon appetit!

For the full Festival programme of diary dates, list of Restaurants, special offers, menus, Dining Experiences and for Reservations visit the official websites:




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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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