The Edinburgh Castle is a fortification for fortifying yourself, full of hearty British fare. This defence against hunger has two parts. No, not motte and bailey, but an upstairs restaurant and a downstairs pub. Upstairs, downstairs and all the connotations that go along with that.
The downstairs is a traditional old pub with a welcoming drinking zone and a separate eating area. Traditional pub or not, this is much more than just some Scampi Fries. In fact, this is some of the very best pub food in the city. From magnificent (though slightly frightening on the denture front) pork crackling and a dinky scotch egg selection involving quails eggs encased in smoked ham, black pudding and ‘nduja to rabbit faggots and a chippy tea that’s been taken to new heights with a bonus salt cod croquette and chip shop curry flavoured salt, comfort food doesn’t get much better than this – plus great beers and a fine selection of whiskies behind the bar.
Upstairs is where the Edinburgh Castle ups its game in theory with a very smart kit-out and more of a fine dining vibe. You’ll find dishes like pickled ox tongue with sauce gribiche or plump steamed mussels with smoked pork jowl, burnt apple, kombu and butternut. There is excellent cooking to be found, beautiful hasselback potatoes and punchy flavours too but some of the pub grub magic is missing. It’s fantastic but it pales slightly in comparison to the muscle in the downstairs dishes. In any upstairs, downstairs scenario, all the fun is to be found in the lower quarters.