WE HAVE BEEN BACK to Edinburgh many times since we moved away in 2015, but it was not until this past visit in June did we notice how much things had changed in the city since we left, but more so, how much had changed just in the past year of lockdown. One of P’s favourite pubs, Smithie’s, where he would often go after playing football (soccer) on Thursday nights, closed forever, set to be turned into a block of flats.
Another one of our favourite places was an old pub on Dundas street where we would go on Sundays if we had perhaps one too many glasses of wine the night before. It was one of those dimly lit types of places with dusty hazy slants of sunlight falling from heavily draped windows that was often quiet save for the odd elderly man sitting in a corner somewhere with a pint and a paper. There was always a lone barman behind the bar, and lots of places for us to sit. When we went to revisit this pub for old time’s sake, however, we were shocked to see that it was too busy to find seating, and instead of the lone barman, there were young blonde waitresses wearing artisanal leather aprons. We did a little research later, back at the hotel, and discovered that the pub had been in trouble and in danger of closing in 2018, but was then taken over by a business conglomerate, which explained all of the unfortunate changes.
We then decided to visit a few of our other secret favourite places and discovered that they too had been discovered by the general public and were no longer secrets. Some of our other favourite independent places, however, managed to thrive and open subsequent locations. Cities are living, breathing things, and having lived in a few of them now, we’re accustomed to their changes and always excited to see what’s new. Here are a few favourite photos of our most recent visit to this city that will be forever a part of our hearts …
Eggs Benedict on sourdough with hollandaise sauce and an oat milk flat white at the new Bruntsfield location of our favourite coffee shop.
“There’s no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around: it stays with you, always.” —Alan Bold
And it was all yellow
Yellow roses in Princes Street Gardens and a new favourite sweater. Princes Street Gardens are two adjacent public parks in the centre of Edinburgh, beneath Edinburgh Castle. The Gardens were created in the 1820s following the draining of the Nor Loch and building of the New Town in the 1760s. The gardens run along the south side of Princes Street and are divided by The Mound, on which the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy buildings are located.
The Edinburgh Farmers Market, located beneath the Edinburgh Castle on Castle Terrace, has over fifty stalls where you can find a wide range of fresh locally sourced produce along with speciality goods such as handmade soaps and hand-knitted Shetland sweaters. There are also Scotch eggs and baked goods, jams, preserves, chutneys and chilli. It takes place every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.
We remember when Fortitude first opened in the city centre and are so happy to see that they are not only still open, but that they have opened a second location in Stockbridge. It’s wonderful to see our old haunts flourishing and expanding.
Fortitude Coffee Merchants
3C York Place, Edinburgh,
Ting Thai Caravan
One of our favourite Thai restaurants actually began as food truck offering authentic Thai street food at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012. They opened a small restaurant in the University quarter shortly after (this is the location we went to). After we moved away from the city in 2015, they opened a second restaurant/bar on the same street offering Vietnamese and South East Asian dishes. Saboteur, their sister restaurant, opened in September 2017.
Prosecco in the Park
We are cava people, P & I, having lived in sunny Spain, but in Britain, prosseco is the sparkling wine of choice, so, as they say, when in Rome…
The Canny Man's
Happily, one of our very favourite pubs, The Canny Man’s in Morningside, was not only still open, but remained exactly as we remembered it. An Edinburgh institution that was established in 1871, it has remained in the Kerr family for generations. The Canny Man’s is actually a nickname for the public house, as the pub’s original name is the Volunteer Arms. We thoroughly enjoyed our glass of prosecco and the fact that this old favourite haunt of ours has remained entirely unchanged.
Castello Coffee Co.
Castello has been a favourite coffee spot for us since their beginning. We would often visit their Castle Street location on the weekend and loved the taste of their coffees. After we left, we had no idea that the tiny, stand-alone shop would expand to new locations and decided to visit their brand new location in Brunstfield. What wonderful surprise to find that they have expanded their menu items and were now also serving delicious food.
Stockbridge is a suburb of Edinburgh, located north of the city centre. It was originally a small outlying village, but was incorporated into the City of Edinburgh in the 19th century. The current “Stock Bridge”, built in 1801, is a stone structure spanning the Water of Leith. We used to come here every Sunday to go to the farmer’s market, or get brunch at a spot we liked on North West Circus Place.
Our old Georgian flat was located in the New Town, so when we visit the city, we like to stay in different neighbourhoods to see what they are like. This time, our hotel was in the West End,