La Piazza boasts authentic Italian cuisine in a relaxed setting. As well as a spacious and comfortable dining area, La Piazza also has a lovely sun terrace which is great for al fresco dining and people-watching. The a la carte menu is very large and offers both traditional classics, as well as more modern dishes inspired by traditional favorites. There is also a tempting array of desserts and a decent business lunch menu. La Piazza has the reputation for producing great well-cooked pasta, a staple which can be a bit of a letdown in some Italian restaurants, and many dishes are available either dairy or gluten-free.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The set menus for groups at La Piazza make it easy for you to enjoy delicious Italian food with a large number of friends.
Simon's expert tip: Great choice if you're dining out in a large group.
This family-run Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant offers a range of authentic curries in a fun, friendly atmosphere. The menu is large and offers a blend of familiar Indian dishes, Scottish favorites and some unique specialities. This restaurant is also home to the Kismot Killer, a curry so hot that you get it for free if you can manage to eat the whole thing! Don't worry though, there are plenty of mild options on the menu too and the staff will be happy to help you choose an appropriate dish for your tastes. The prices are very reasonable and this is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) restaurant with no corkage fee.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Delicious Indian cuisine and the wonderfully warm welcome make this a great choice for a meal out with a groups of friends.
Simon's expert tip: If you intend to take the challenge of the Kismot Killer curry then make sure you order it in advance because the chillies have to be specially imported.
Hanam's serves authentic Kurdish and Middle Eastern cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The decor is traditional and inviting with rich tapestries and comfy cushions galore and the food is delectable. The menu is prodigious, with traditional favorites such as baba ghanoush and falafel alongside delicious charcoal-cooked shish kebabs and delicately spiced lamb dishes. Many of the dishes are ideal for sharing, with wonderful platters of mixed starters, great combinations of dips and traditional breads and rich meat and vegetable dishes which combine beautifully with their opulent pomegranate rice. Hanam's features an extensive dry bar (a bar serving non-alcoholic beverages) but you can also bring your own alcohol for no extra corkage fee and sample a shisha pipe in Scotland's only dedicated shisha gallery.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Hanam's has a wonderful private dining room and a set menu for groups which is full of eastern promise.
Simon's expert tip: Don't forget to leave room for a pudding, their saffron and cardamom ice cream is a treat not to be missed.
Calistoga is a delightful Californian restaurant nestling in a cobbled alley just off Rose Street in the heart of Edinburgh. This stylish and welcoming restaurant has blossomed despite being relatively well hidden because it has quickly gained a loyal following for its excellent, locally sourced dishes and the remarkably large selection of delicious Californian wines they stock. The interior is clean, fresh and uncluttered with minimal decoration, but an unforced sense of style and laid back charm – much like the food, which displays a light touch and great attention to detail. Calistoga serves a blend of fine American cuisine and the best Scottish ingredients, so whether you are a lover of steak or fancy a light risotto or crispy crostini you are bound to be charmed by this little slice of California.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: With three dining areas of different sizes and a lively and chic atmosphere Calistoga is a great choice for private dining.
Simon's expert tip: Don't miss their wine tasting menus which are an absolute must for wine lovers.
The Tower Restaurant occupies pride of place at the top of the sandstone clad keep of the National Museum of Scotland in the heart of Edinburgh. Operated by James Thompson, owner of the Witchery and Prestonfield House, the Tower stays true to his vision of opulent and sumptuous Scottish cuisine served with panache and flair. The décor is muted and refined and the menu includes the finest Scottish produce. Add to this the incredible views of the city of Edinburgh and it is easy to see why this five star restaurant is such a hit with celebrities, locals and tourists alike.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The Tower Restaurant has a wonderful private dining room complete with its own private terrace offering spectacular views of the castle.
Simon's expert tip: They have a very reasonably priced lunch menu if you want to dine in the lap of luxury without risking bankruptcy!
Bond No 9 is located in the heart of Leith's waterfront area in the shell of a former whisky bond building. The interior retains the low ceilings and large wooden beams of its former incarnation and pairs them effectively with comfortable leather couches and chairs, dark wooden tables and flickering candlelight to create a warm and relaxing ambiance. The bar area displays an impressive range of wines, spirits and liqueurs and so it should come as no surprise that Bond No 9 has earned quite a reputation for its cocktails. However, the restaurant is no poor cousin. Featuring contemporary cuisine and fresh local ingredients Bond No 9 is a great place for a light snack, a hearty meal or a languorous brunch.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Groups of 15 to 30 can dine comfortably in the Alcove and the Conservatory is perfect for larger groups.
Simon's expert tip: Bond No 9 holds regular cocktail and champagne tasting nights which great fun and reasonably priced
Located at the top of Broughton Street, a stone's throw away from Leith Walk and Princes Street, The Basement has long been a favorite with locals and a delightful discovery for tourists prepared to step lightly off the beaten track. It's a popular pub and restaurant that's always busy. The recent refurbishment has only added to the charm of this little gem with colorful fabrics and painted chairs, a delightfully quirky display of suspended plant pots, and some excellent pieces by local artists. The menu offers an inviting and reasonably adventurous selection of Tex-Mex food which is thoughtfully prepared, extremely tasty, and very reasonably priced.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The Basement offers private dining for up to sixteen people in a lively and welcoming subterranean haven.
Simon's expert tip: The cocktail menu is well worth checking out as some of their own creations are devilishly delicious
Located in a beautiful Georgian building in George Street, the heart of the city center, the Living Room is effortlessly chic and sophisticated. The cream leather booths and polished wooden floor are perfectly complimented by simple uncluttered table settings and muted lighting. In the bar area there is a white grand piano and a spectacular brass chandelier. There is also a comfortable lounge area which is perfect for indulging in a little coffee and cake. The menu in the main dining area is eclectic with Asian, Italian, French and British influences, so there will be something to suit every palate. They also have a tempting bar menu featuring some top quality nibbles and a comprehensive wine and cocktail list.
Howies Waterloo restaurant has the same commitment to fresh locally sourced produce as its sister restaurant in Victoria Street – but with a much grander setting. Housed in a beautiful Georgian building and decorated with style, the restaurant is refined yet relaxed. The food has the same sense of quality without fussiness and is consistently excellent. Their menu is a blend of Scottish favorites with some European classic thrown in for good measure. They offer some very good value meal deals and early dining options as well as a children's menu which may not be large but very appealing and an excellent wines and spirits list.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Howies have a great menu for large groups and their private dining room is truly stunning
Simon's expert tip: Leave room for dessert, their pannacotta is particularly delicious
Rhubarb is the decadent and romantic restaurant of the Prestonfield House Hotel. Nestling in the shadow of Arthur's seat, Prestonfield House is a beautiful seventeenth century building. The restaurant is formed from two opulent oval rooms in the heart of the house, decorated with plush rich fabrics. Pre- dinner drinks are served in four ornate and beautiful drawing rooms and the dining rooms are flanked by a stylish bar and salon where visitors can enjoy cocktails or afternoon tea. The menu features Scottish produce at its best. The a la carte menu features some wonderfully extravagant delights to feast upon, but there is also a very good table d'hote menu which will not break the bank.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Rhubarb at Prestonfield House has a series of private dining rooms where you can enjoy a lavish banquet with a group of friends.
Simon's expert tip: Afternoon tea in Rhubarb is a delight not to be missed with cakes and pastries which are almost too beautiful to eat.