Top 5 historic places to dine in Edinburgh

31 October 2014

Edinburgh not only has some of the best places to eat in the UK, it also has some of the most historic. The wealth of historic buildings in the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site offers so many opportunities to dine in atmospheric historic surroundings, but here are just a few to try.

Gardener’s Cottage, Royal Terrace Gardens

Gardeners Cottage 736

The Gardener’s Cottage has rapidly gained a great reputation since opening in 2012, breathing new life into a quirky historic building in the leafy setting of Royal Terrace Gardens. It dates back to 1837 and was intended to house a tenant, who would also look after the gardens and rent out keys to local residents. In return they were allowed to use part of the space for their own garden, and it is nice to see that the current owners follow that tradition, with vegetable patches lining the path to the front door.

Contini Cannonball, Cannonball House, Castlehill

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The newly opened Contini Cannonball at Cannonball House has brought this 300 year old building back to life. The initials of some of the early owners can still be seen carved above one of the upper windows – Alexander Mure and his wife Margaret Niellems with the date 1630. As you enter, look out for the ‘tirling pin’ still fixed to the main door, old Edinburgh’s version of a door knocker. But why the name Cannonball House? Look carefully on the side of the building facing Edinburgh Castle and you will see a mysterious cannonball fixed high up into the wall.

The Dome, George Street

The Dome At Christmas

The Dome on George Street is incredibly grand, and it must have the most impressive entrance of any place to eat in Edinburgh. The building dates back to 1847 and was built as the head office for the Commercial Bank. What is now the Grill-Room was once the main banking hall, with the impressive domed roof designed to allow light to flood into the room. You can also still see the Commercial Bank’s coat of arms in a mosaic on the floor, and in stained glass windows at the back of the building.

Jamie’s Italian, The Assembly Rooms, George Street

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When Jamie’s Italian opened in 2012 it revived an old tradition of dining at the Assembly Rooms. The building dates to 1787 and was intended to host dances and entertainment for high society in the Georgian New Town. In recent times what is now the restaurant were supper rooms, hired for grand occasions, but originally it was the location of the kitchens. It was here that the Assembly Rooms hosted its first event in 1785, a cockfight organised by the gentlemen of Lanark and Haddington.

Wedgewood the Restaurant, The Canongate

Wedgwood Restaurant 736

The Wedgewood is well known for its food, but not many people know its proper address – Morocco Land. Perched high up on this building is a strange sculpture, which some say represents the Emperor of Morocco. The legend has it that one Andrew Gray fled the city after being wrongly accused, and ended up in the Moroccan court. He returned many years later at the head of a fleet of pirate ships, cured the Provost's daughter of plague, married her and set up home in this Canongate tenement. The tenement was rebuilt in the 1950s, but the turbanned figure still remains.

Blog contributed by David Hicks, Communications Manager at Edinburgh World Heritage.