Empires is a wonderfully warm and inviting Turkish café and bistro located in the heat of Edinburgh's Old Town. It has an authentic bohemian atmosphere with beautiful Turkish rugs, ornate wood carving and some really beautiful lanterns. The main courses are the classic Turkish dishes of mousaka, kofti and beyti, but where they really come into their own is the wide selection of mezze (tapas like dishes which are combined to form a delicious meal). The food is authentic and delicious; some richly spiced, some delicately flavored, but all cooked with the same loving attention to detail. At the weekend patrons are also treated to authentic Turkish, Greek and Flamenco music – but be sure to book ahead as weekend tables are in great demand.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Empires serves wonderful home cooked Turkish mezze in a beautiful and authentic environment.
Simon's expert tip: If you can, get a table in their mezzanine floor which is snug and very pretty.
Clarinda's Tearoom is a cozy and traditional Victorian style tea room located at the bottom of the Royal Mile close to the Scottish Parliament. Inside the décor is kitsch and charming. China plates and turn of the century style portraits adorn the walls, an assortment of wooden chairs surround small tables draped with crisp white linen and topped with small vases of fresh flowers, and a generous selection of cakes, pastries and scones sit on silver cake stands on a wooden dresser. It is a very homely, if old fashioned environment. The real attraction is the home baked treats. They serve wonderfully warming soups and baked potatoes and delicious sandwiches, but you will not be able to resist the delights of the tea trolley. This is no place for calorie counting!
Recommended for Homestyle because: Clarinda's Tearoom serves great home baking and wonderful home style meals.
Simon's expert tip: The Rhubarb pie is a particular delicacy, not too sweet and not too sharp with delicious crumbly pastry.
This wonderful family run Korean restaurant is much like its decor - eccentric, but charming and very comfortable. Mrs Kim (described on her menus as mum) prides herself on producing delicious home cooked meals in a homely environment and patrons always receive a warm welcome. However, the standard of the cuisine is certainly much higher than most of us could hope for at home, perhaps explaining why they never take reservations as they are always busy. The staff is very helpful and most dishes can be served in a vegetarian version and with a level of spice to suit the customer.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Warm and inviting, Kim's Mini Meals is the place to go to enjoy great home cooked Korean cuisine.
Simon's expert tip: Try the Dolsot Galbi (marinated pork ribs in a hot stone pot) it is wonderfully spicy and very moreish!
Teuchter's Landing is a great little pub close to the docks at Leith. The pub is housed in a quaint and attractive stone building that was once the ferry terminal for boats arriving from Aberdeen (Teuchter, pronounced choochter, is a lowland Scots name for a highlander) and it has retained much of the original stonework. The interior is clad in warm wood with a huge fire to warm patrons on winter nights and the extra seating outside includes a wonderful floating pontoon. Traditional Highland dishes such as Cullen skink and haggis stovies are served in their trademark mugs and the wide range of real ales and single malts ensure that there is something for every palate.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Teuchter's Landing's Mug Menu features some wonderful home-style Scottish grub.
Simon's expert tip: There is a regular slot for guest beers and ales, so it is always worth having a chat with the bar staff before making up your mind.
Kampong Ah Lee Malaysian Delight is one of Edinburgh's hidden gems. It is a compact canteen-style restaurant with a low key exterior that could easily be mistaken for a run of the mill Asian takeaway. Instead diners are treated to wonderfully authentic Malaysian street food with an emphasis on home style cooking and value for money. Like much Malay food, the menu displays the influences of many Asian cuisines – Thai and Indonesian curries, Chinese and Indian dishes and of course Malay classics such as mee goreng (fried noodles) and nasi lemak (coconut rice). Kampong Ah Lee (which means Lee's Village) was the first restaurant that chef Lee opened in Edinburgh and it is more authentic (and less expensive) than its sister Kampong Ali (in Fountainbridge), but both are well worth a visit.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Kampong Ah Lee serves delicious home cooked Malaysian food in a relaxed and laid back canteen style setting.
Simon's expert tip: The menu is in Malaysian, but don't be afraid to ask the staff to help you choose the perfect dish.
Khushis was the first Indian restaurant to open in Edinburgh. The first incarnation of this restaurant opened its doors in 1947 under the name "Lothian Restaurant", but in 1974 was renamed Khushi's after its flamboyant owner. Since then Khushi's has moved premises a number of times, ending up in Antigua Street at the top of Leith Walk. A firm favorite with the people of Edinburgh, Khushis has a reputation for excellent homestyle Indian cuisine prepared with fresh locally sourced ingredients as well as more exotic herbs and spices imported from India. The menu is tempting and extensive, but the price tag remarkably reasonable. Their BYOB policy is also very popular.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Khushi's serves traditional Indian food in a relaxed and convivial environment
Simon's expert tip: The menu includes all of the traditional favorites, but step outside your comfort zone to try delights such. as their Bollywood inspired prawn kohliwara and you will not be disappointed.
Housed in a beautiful seventeenth century building which was adapted into a bar and restaurant during the eighteenth century, The Doric proudly proclaims itself the oldest gastro-pub in Edinburgh. The interior is simply decorated with warm wooden floors and tables, plain white walls and rich red curtains. The menu combines great gastro pub favorites with Scottish classics. Although there is a rather retro feel in places (such as the appearance of duck a l'orange), all of the dishes are prepared with some flair while remaining true to their home style origins. Every Sunday they add a traditional home cooked Border beef with all of the trimmings to their already extensive menu.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Great home cooked Scottish pub favorites in a traditional seventeenth century building make the Doric a real treat.
Simon's expert tip: The Cullen Skink is claimed by some to be the best in Edinburgh!
10 to 10 in Delhi is a great little Indian café serving home style Indian cuisine. Chef and owner Alieu Badjan has years of experience in some of the best upscale restaurants in Edinburgh, but has eschewed fine dining to turn his prodigious skills to the production of great home cooked food, and the result is a rare treat – food that is unfussy, but rich and delicious with wonderful blends of spices and an unpretentious price tag. The café is decorated in flamboyant colorful fabrics, a plethora of comfy cushions and Bollywood memorabilia, but retains a very chilled, relaxing vibe, despite being fairly busy.
Recommended for Homestyle because: 10 to 10 in Delhi serves some of the best home-style Indian cuisine at extremely reasonable prices.
Simon's expert tip: The mini cheesecake selection is quite delicious and enough reason to visit this great Indian café by itself.
The Dogs is a popular bar and restaurant located in the heart of the New Town. Focusing on Scottish and British ingredients and with a commitment to unfussy, hearty food this laid back eatery has made quite a name for itself. The interior is shabby chic with beautiful oak tables and minimal but quirky decor and a relaxed ambiance. The menu features many classic dishes, such as Cullen Skink, hot pot and excellent fish and chips but also contains a number of inventive and less traditional offerings. The food is very good value for money, and unlike the offerings of some fine dining establishments, very satisfying. They also have a very good wine list and a growing repertoire of cocktails.
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Dogs serves delicious, unfussy and hearty meals in a delightfully laid back environment
Simon's expert tip: Their soup, served with a huge chunk of artisan bread, is truly delightful.
It was originally called Monster Mash, but the concept remains the same, even if the name has changed to Mums. This is British comfort food, just like mum would make, and that means bangers and mash, macaroni cheese, fish and chips, and traditional Scottish haggis. You'll also find some classic desserts, including irresistible fruit crumbles. The decor is retro British with a functional feel, like a re-imagined old greasy spoon cafe. It's always busy with locals and tourists, service is fast, kids are welcome, and the food will really stick to your ribs. Make sure you have an appetite before you step inside.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Wonderful home-style food and the quirky retro decor make Mums Great Comfort Food a real treat.
Simon's expert tip: You can find some good, honest British cuisine here, the food that real people eat every day.