I love stumbling into unexpectedly great finds for meals–especially while you’re travelling and completely unfamiliar with the surroundings (save for the saving grace of Google Maps, that is). Judith and I had about an hour to spare before exploring Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh last Sunday afternoon, and we were freezing and absolutely ravenous for lunch after a morning spent at Portobello Beach. We walked along Grassmarket (Victoria Street) near the main High Street and found something that looked promising: Howies Restaurant. Best. Decision. Ever.
Lunchtime in the restaurant was pretty busy, but not too crowded with tourists to the extent that you feel claustrophobic. There are three other Howies restaurants, two of which are in Edinburgh, but as stated by the website, “Howies is a group, not a chain of restaurants”, which might account for the comfortable, homely feel of the place that didn’t feel too duplicated/franchised.
The good thing about having meals with people is that you get to try a whole variety of different dishes. The Howies lunch deal was really worth it: £8.95 for 2 courses, so we decided on a starter, two main courses, and a dessert to share.
You know that feeling when you’re craving for a certain food, and it appears right before your eyes? Sense of satisfaction, but doubled (: Scotland was a few degrees colder than it was in York and it was especially windy along the coast, so being able to warm up with this really hearty soup made us feel completely at home. I love the texture especially; not too thick, not too soupy either, and the taste was just the right mix of peppery and savoury goodness. My only regret is that we didn’t have more!
Needed my fix of meat to fill my stomach up, and this more than satisfied that as well. I always like it when spices and sauces complement the main meat dish, and in this case the toasted bap and spiced apple chutney gave the venison burger an interesting zesty twist. The beef and venison was also not too well-done, really succulent-imagine sinking your teeth into it. Yumz.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch exactly what type of fish it was (sea bass? haddock?) but I stole a few bites of Judith’s lunch and the fish was really fresh (maybe because Scotland is so near the coast!) It had a clear, lemony taste which was a refreshing change from the savoury tang of my burger.
Perfect sweets that concluded our lunch on a nice note. I’ve never tried Panacotta before but it basically tasted like Vanilla jelly and was rich/thick enough without overdoing the sweetness. Soft, mild and vanilla-y, when eaten with the sweet caramelised apple it felt a bit like sinking your teeth into warm, savoury apple pie that has been translated into pudding.
The Grassmarket region in Edinburgh at dusk
If there was one single place in Edinburgh that I would recommend to people for lunch, out of the few places that we tried in that short weekend, Howies’ would be it (: (And they offer the signature Scottish dish, Haggis as well-though personally I just couldn’t take a liking to it. Lamb innards? I love pig organs’ soup, but lamb innards just sounds too unsettling for even a glutton like me).
10-14 Victoria Street, EH1 2HG
0131 225 1721
XX (tinted with nostalgia for the beauty that is Edinburgh),