The New York Steam Packet is a relaxed and welcoming American-style diner nestling in a delightful cobblestone alley just off Rose Street in Edinburgh city center. It serves good, quality food for very reasonable prices, and the restaurant also has a wonderfully laid-back ambience.
This hidden gem is easily missed. From the main street, you would not know it was even there. Plus, they only open mid-week if they have bookings, so many hopeful diners have wandered down the lane only to find the restaurant closed.
This only adds to the sense that you've discovered a rare and delicious secret, which you may not want to share with the world!
The New York Steam Packet — Photo courtesy of The New York Steam Packet
Access is by an unassuming door marked by a large chalkboard, which leads to a narrow spiral staircase. The interior is small but perfectly formed. Long, comfortable leather-clad benches line the walls, with wooden tables lined up in parallel.
Images of ocean liners and other nautical knickknacks hang on the walls, and diners eat under the ever watchful eye of a large, three-dimensional picture of the Statue of Liberty.
They have an open kitchen at The New York Steam Packet, so you can watch the chef whip up your meal. In good weather, they unroll astro-turf in the lane for an additional al fresco dining option.
There’s a simple set menu, but there are enough tasty options to keep everyone happy. Three courses cost a mere £14 during the week and £15.95 at the weekend, making it very good value. They also operate a “bring your own bottle” policy with a minimal corkage fee, so you can enjoy a great meal without breaking the bank.
Diners chat as they enjoy eating food together at The New York Steam Packet — Photo courtesy of The New York Steam Packet
At The New York Steam Packet, they specialize in classic American diner food, with a Scottish twist. Starters such as deep-fried potato skins and sweet potato soup sit alongside haggis balls with whisky dip and homemade pate with oatcakes.
Main courses include Aberdeen Angus steak; delicious handmade burgers, including a rather good haggis burger; spicy vegetable enchiladas; succulent chicken breast; and classic Scottish salmon steak. They do apply a small surcharge for the sirloin steak, but the portions are very generous and the steak cooked to perfection.
The puddings are very naughty indeed. American classics such as chocolate fudge cake and pecan pie may not be good for the waistline, but they're undoubtedly good for the taste buds. If you don’t think you can manage all three courses, you can swap your starter or pudding for a soft drink or a mug of tea or coffee.
Although it isn't a large restaurant, The New York Steam Packet is the perfect place to take a group of friends. The atmosphere is convivial and relaxed, and the set meal structure and BYOB means you can avoid any unseemly dispute regarding anyone’s share of the bill.
Just be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss the boat.