Plenty of Capital restaurants offering good food on a budget

Manager M Akbar in The Mosque Kitchen
Manager M Akbar in The Mosque Kitchen
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YOU’VE pigged out on the finest food Edinburgh can offer. Gazed, suitably impressed, at the chic surroundings, nodded knowingly at the wine waiter’s offerings and chewed over the conversation overheard at the next table.

You’ve even managed to avoid making any unseemly slurping noises and haven’t even spilled your wine. Now comes the killer moment...

Pho Vietnam restaurant in Grove Street

Pho Vietnam restaurant in Grove Street

If you happen to be eating out in one of Edinburgh’s growing band of Michelin star restaurants, the point where the waiting staff arrive with the bill could well be one of sudden, stomach churning nausea. Suddenly that sliver of scallop, that marinated pig’s trotter stuffed with something unpronounceable, that admittedly feather-light pudding that really just amounted to fruit and cream, could be in danger of creating a rather unpleasant aftertaste.

Perhaps on hindsight, a stay-at-home supermarket £10 meal deal might have been a better option? At least that way you’d still have money left over to eat for the rest of the month.

In spite of the global financial crisis, Edinburgh’s fine dining experience has just moved up a notch, with news that the prestigious Michelin Guide has awarded a city restaurant its first star. Castle Terrace Restaurant, which opened just 18 months ago, is one of three restaurants in the Capital to boast the honour.

Which is marvellous news for those who can afford to blow the entire week’s shopping budget on one meal – one, some say rather pretentious, Leith restaurant charges £65 for its six-course taster menu, and that’s without any drinks. But here in the real world, eating out is a rare treat.

Cafe Marlayne in Antigua Street

Cafe Marlayne in Antigua Street

The Michelin Guide’s restaurants may well come with a fancy star attached, but who needs Michelin stars when all you really want is a decent bite to eat and money left in your wallet?

So, with one eye on the dwindling bank balance and the other on quality, here’s the Evening News “Not the Michelin Guide” to the best nosh for the least dosh. Bon Appetit!

SOME LIKE IT HOT

Perhaps not quite as mindblowing as the Kismot killer curry that landed diners in hospital, but you can fill up on the hot stuff at the Mosque Kitchen for a snip and be content in the knowledge you’re helping charity too.

Lobster and mussels at the Mussel & Steak Bar

Lobster and mussels at the Mussel & Steak Bar

What used to be simply a kitchen and outdoor seating area, the Mosque Kitchen at Nicolson Square now has a funky interior seating area. Chicken curry with rice costs just £4.50, lentil curry and rice even less at just £3. Or pig out for £10 at the “all you can eat buffet”, with soft drinks included in the price. What’s even better, proceeds from the restaurant go towards helping 100 patients a day in hospital in Pakistan, and over 200 orphaned children. The restaurant also supports charities in Gambia and India.

CREDIT CRUNCH LUNCH

Lunch in a restaurant for a fiver? Not if you care to have your wallet ambushed at Leith’s Michelin Star haunt at The Shore where you’ll cough up nearly £30 for three courses (plus another £16 if you’d like cheese and coffee with your overdraft). However, the Mussel and Steak Bar at West Bow offers half a kilo of Scottish rope-grown mussels drenched in the chef’s sauce of the day and washed down with either a glass of wine, a Stella Artois or a soft drink for a mere fiver. You do have to print off a voucher from www.musselandsteakbar.com, but it’s less effort than explaining the posh restaurant bill to the bank manager. If you want to push the boat out, go for the two-course lunch menu at less than a tenner.

For slightly more, head to Chez Jules in Hanover Street for the menu du jour, which offers two courses for £7.90.

The Iso Bar in St Bernard Street

The Iso Bar in St Bernard Street

Or try the very highly rated Pho Vietnam in Grove Street which has a £5.90 lunch deal and a BYOB corkage fee of just £1.

PUB GRUB

Bar 50 in Blackfriars Street may not have Philippe Starke designed toilets but it’ll do you a fresh stone-baked pizza for £4 and a house salad for £1.75. Or lasagne, salad plus garlic bread with 5p change from a fiver. Plus, you won’t have to listen to some overpaid banker, civil servant or captain of industry guffawing loudly at the next table.

Head out of town to the award-winning local, The Goth in Prestonpans, where your ten spot will get you soup along with a main course of burger and fries or a nine-inch pizza, or, for senior citizens, a two-course meal deal costs around £7.

Or try Scottish GastroPub of the Year, The Sun Inn at Dalkeith. Grab its Early Bird Menu, Monday to Thursday between 6pm and 7pm for two courses of top nosh for £10.95.

SAVE THE EURO... Go Continental

Hewat's in Causewayside

Hewat's in Causewayside

The Greek economy has gone to pot, so mark the occasion with some traditional Greek dishes for a snip at the Harbourside Inn in Fort Road, Newhaven, courtesy of Greek owner Flora Papanicolaou. Or show solidarity with the Italian financial crisis with its two pizzas for a tenner deal. The pub runs a loyalty scheme too, so dine regularly and save the pennies.

Throw your support behind Spain with some tasty tapas at Tapa in Hanover Street and Shore Place in Leith, where a dish of patatas bravas costs just £3.35 – other dishes similarly priced – with some free bread thrown in.

Or head to La Tasca for their Monday and Tuesday evening Tapas and Wine deal for £9.95, three dishes of tapas and a 175ml glass of vino for under a tenner. And again on Wednesday and Sundays where just over a tenner will get you a starter, four tapas main dishes and unlimited patatas bravas. Ole. Check website, www.latasca.co.uk for promotions.

Fine dining owes much to French cuisine – the Michelin Guides were first launched in France, after all. So try Café Marlayne in Antigua Street between 5pm and 7pm for the pre-theatre £10.95 two-course prix fixe menu – a choice of four starters, four mains. Or Petit Paris in the Grassmarket for an early evening three-course meal of starter, main and coffee for £10.90.

For Italian, Pizza Express has a £6 pizza deal until Sunday. You’ll need to grab an online voucher at www.pizzaexpress-offers.co.uk. And Prezzo at North Bridge and Newhaven are currently offering two courses and a drink for £11.95 with a voucher from their website, www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk.

Meanwhile La Favorita in Leith Walk offers a free 14-inch pizza with a main dish purchased to the same value for diners with a voucher from its website, www.lafavorita.co.uk. And parents will enjoy the kids eat free deal, conditions apply.

POSH NOSH, LESS DOSH

Iso Bar in Bernard Street, Leith, is just a stone’s throw from a certain highly priced Michelin restaurant. But diners there can enjoy its new “Tenner Fest” menu – three top quality courses including the likes of fillet of beef and pan fried red mullet for £10, created by resident chef, Alan Woodhall. Head there on Thursdays for its curry night deal, £6 for a main course, rice and trimmings plus a Cobra beer, and on Sunday for its “two for £20” two- course roast deal with glass of wine thrown in.

Hewat’s at Causewayside has a fine dining style menu but at a fraction of the cost – particularly if you head along for their “dine for around a tenner” deals, Monday to Thursday. The early bird sitting – last orders at 7.30pm – costs just £10.25 and features the likes of fillet of sea bass and salmon with tiger prawn, pea risotto and asparagus. Dessert will cost just a further £3.95. But don’t all rush at once… the restaurant is closed for holidays this week.

If you prefer fish, tuck into dishes from a two-course set menu at Loch Fyne Edinburgh Restaurant at Newhaven harbour for £9.95 – although you’ll need to download a voucher from www.lochfyne-restaurants.com if you’re planning to enjoy the deal after 5pm. Register with the website for a £10 voucher.

And B’Est in Drummond Street has embraced the Auld Alliance and come up with a two-course dinner menu just slightly over the tenner budget at £11.90 for the early option, just £1 dearer if you’re eating after 6.30pm. The menu includes sauteed escargots with foie gras, shallots, garlic & white wine – and that’s just for starters.

TAKE COMFORT

For a winter of discontent, you need good filling comfort food and that means bangers and mash. Mum’s at Forrest Road has a choice of O’Hagan’s specialist sausages – try horse- radish for a warming kick or courgette and garlic – mash and gravy for £6.95. Starters cost from just £2.50 and breakfast rolls a snip at around £1.20.

The Spoon Café Bistro in Nicolson Street has a reputation for hearty, healthy nosh. Their pre-dinner two-course menu is just over a tenner, but in return you get the likes of game terrine with pear and cranberry chutney, toasted sour dough to start and hearty grilled pork loin with puy lentils, roast squash & winter pesto for the main course.

Start the day at the City Café with a substantial bowl of porridge for a mere £2. Then hang about until lunchtime to indulge in soup and a sandwich or sub roll for £6. If you’re a late riser, grab a starter from £3.50 and a main course – such as penne with pesto and pine nuts – for around £7.

Trendy diner Urban Angel in Hanover Street and Forth Street will fill you up with three “little plates” – tapas-style dishes of polenta bites, sweet potato wedges and braised pork belly with mushrooms, among others – for a tenner. And there’s comfort in knowing the eaterie’s ethos embraces fair trade, local, seasonal produce and organically sourced food.

* Please note, some offers and deals can change daily.