05 Mar A visit to Leith
Visiting Edinburgh and interested in food then you must take a trip down to Leith.
A visit to Leith is recommended. It has a great selection of bars and restaurants for everyone’s budget. From a fantastic bagel at Bross Bagels to a tasting menu at Tom Kitchin’s Michelin star restaurant.
You can catch a Number 22 bus on the shopping side of Princes st. Adult fare in 2021 is £1.80 (correct change required- the buses now take credit card payments). The bus will take you all the way to Ocean Terminal. Which is a shopping mall
where the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed. Britannia is great visitor attraction. Also a nice place for a tea and scone if not one of their afternoon teas (best to book). A short walk from Ocean Terminal will bring you a long a cobbled street in front of some old Wharf buildings. The first section is mainly offices, but next section has a selection of restaurants. Including Tom Kitchins.
At the end of this block turn left to visit Tuechters Landing . It has a good selection of food and drinks. Through the back is a glass conservatory with lovely views over river of Leith. On hot summer days there is a pontoon on the river for drinks. For the whisky lovers they have a great selection of whiskies. With the most expensive on the top shelf and cheapest on the lower. If you can’t make up your mind. You can pay £3.50 for a small rubber hoop. Which you then try and throw over your preferred whisky bottle. Should it hook on you get a dram from the bottle. If you fail. You are served a dram of Sheep Dip, yes, it is a whisky.
On a Saturday morning till around 2-3pm there is a small farmers market outside Tuechters landing.
From Tuechters walk back onto main road turning left. Walk over the bridge first left. A walk down this side of the Water of Leith will take you past several fine seafood restaurants. Including The Ship, The Shore and Fishers. Many years ago, when Bill & Hilary Clinton were in Edinburgh with Tony & Cherie Blair, they had a dinner in Fishers.
Stewart Brewery have a lovely little shop in Bernard st, Leith mainly for carry out. But you can taste some beers through the back before you decide what to buy. Pilot brew down in Leith and you can try some of their range in Tuechters as well as the Lioness of Leith another popular haunt for the locals.
It’s not all about drinking alcohol there is nice deli-cafe called Quay Common on Commercial street. For those with a sweet tooth then try Mimi’s . It’s a great place for tea and cake. Any cakes you can’t finish they will give you a little box to take them home.
Moving away from food and drink all together. There is old whisky warehouse which is now a Antique showroom called Georgian Antiques on four floors. It is treasure trove of furnitue and objet d’art. Worth a visit but as most items are large pieces of furntiure very difficult to get in your hand luggage if flying home.
For golfers a visit to Leith is essential as some say it is where the game of golf we know today was first played.
Leith Links is very important in the history of golf when in 1744 the first ever golf tournament was played over five holes. The thirteen rules used for the competition are still the basis of the rules of golf today.
Well maybe it is all about alcohol. Leith when it was a busy port, sherry from Spain was imported. It was then bottled in Leith. Whisky producers would buy the casks up to age whisky. Wines from Bordeaux were unloaded from the 1600’s. The makers of Lind and lime Gin have plans for a Gin distillery to be built near the Britannia. Crabbies green ginger wine used to be made in Leith (no longer). They sponsor the local football team, Hibs, and do still have an office in Leith. Crabbies is an excellent addition to a wee grain whisky on a cold evening.
If you prefer a walk before a meal then you can either walk down Leith walk. From Princes street it is around 2 miles. You will take in a diverse range of shops catering for the different ethnic groups that live in the area. As well as some interesting bars, cafes and restaurants. On Elm Row near the top of Leith walk is Valvona and Crolla a great piece of Edinburgh food history. This Italian Deli was established in 1934 which has a nice café through the back.
The Walnut restaurant further down the Walk has an ever-changing menu. Check their Facebook page for latest menus. They offer a BYOB (£5 corkage) with a very nice wine shop called Oddbins just across the road.
Keeping on the Italian theme further down from Walnut is La Favortia and excellent place for Pizza. Most Italians families that now live in Edinburgh come from Barga and surronding area which is just North of Lucca and Florence.
Near the foot of the Walk is Bross Bagel shop, freshly baked daily and made up to order. Often a queue at lunch time. They have now moved around the corner just off Leith walk into Manderston Street. With some outside seating area.
River of Leith Walk
An alternative walk best taken on a Sunday is a one along the Water of Leith . Around 3 miles in length from the Gallery of Modern Art through Dean Village. This route passes Stockbridge where there is a farmers market on a Sunday. A nice stop for a coffee and a snack. The rest of the walk is by the river or along an old railway line turned into path and cycleway. The final stop being at Rose leaf for Sunday Lunch (booking recommended). In the Rose leaf you will find locals and visitors enjoying the great food and drink on offer. Or maybe just nursing a pint as they read the Sunday papers or a few friends playing scrabble. You can then catch the No. 22 Bus back up onto Princes street.
I have only selected a few restaurants in a visit to Leith. There are also Martin Wishart’s Michelin star restaurant, The Chop House, Nobles, Café Tartine, The Borough all worth a visit. but please appreciate one can only eat and drink so much in your short time in Edinburgh. But you can always come back…
We are looking at offering a food walking tour in Leith but with COVID-19 this has been put on the back burner at present. But we do still continue to run our Old and New Town food tour as a private tour for people travelling together.