Carina Contini

Carina Contini 600

Carina Contini is one of the leading figures in Scottish food. Serving fresh, seasonal and authentic Italian cooking, Carina and her husband, Victor opened Contini George Street in 2004; winning Restaurant of the Year that year and The Judges Special Achievement Award from The List Eating & Drinking Guide in 2005.

In October 2009 they opened The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at The Scottish National Gallery, offering a range of Scottish-inspired dishes. Passionately committed to sustainable practices, they source their ingredients from a trusted network of over 70 Scottish artisan suppliers, regularly changing their menus to reflect the seasons.

Their latest venture, Cannonball House opened in 2014. Situated at the top of the historic Royal Mile, not only are diners treated to a sumptuous menu featuring the best of seasonal Scottish produce, but the views from this 17th century building are breathtaking.

We asked Carina what Edinburgh means to her.....

When I hear the words ‘This Is Edinburgh’, the first thing that springs to mind is…

The Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.  World Class arts festival that puts us on the world map every time.   

What makes me particularly proud to work in the city is…

Part of the reason we pitched for the catering contract at The Scottish National Gallery was our love of the galleries.  The Scottish Collection in particular has inspired our cooking over the last 5 years.  If you have a few spare moments, take the time, as it's free entry, and savour the beauty of our Scottish paintings that capture the heritage of our food nature in a very unexpected way. 

Edinburgh has more restaurants per head of population than any other British city, what makes Edinburgh such a gastronomic hub? 

Scotland's capital city is blessed with access to the whole countries abundant natural larder. Fish from Peterhead, lamb from the Borders, raspberries from Perth, cheddar from Mull - it's all accessible within 24 hours and it's a joy to be able to showcase all the riches of our country and the capital does a very good job at showcasing it. Its access to so many international tourists also supports. 

What’s your ideal Edinburgh culinary experience?

I was 18 and was allowed to go to Princes Street Gardens and watch the International Fireworks with my big brother and all his friends.  Victor, my future husband happened to be in the party.  We had a Gregory’s Girl moment - dancing while looking up at the fireworks.  Very special but what made it even better was the picnic we'd brought earlier.  Homemade soup in flasks, home boiled ham rolls and cakes.  Picnic in Princes Street - can't think of anything better. 

A perfect day in Edinburgh ends with…

A walk up to the top of Castle Hill, onto the Esplanade and watch the city below - sparkle.

As a local, my hidden gem that most visitors to Edinburgh may miss is…

Eddie's Seafood Market in Marchmont.  Eddie is an old friend and always makes me feel welcome even if I've not seen him for ages.  Fresh lobster from the tank or squid cleaned in front of your eyes straight off of local Scottish boats landed at Scottish harbours.  Fresh and fabulous - my hidden gem every time.