At the beginning of the academic year, we told you where to bring the parents when they came to Edinburgh to drop you off to begin your new life. Please now imagine that you have fast-forwarded three and a half years, and are now on the cusp of an even newer life: that of the university graduate. Therefore, celebrations are in order! Make your dinner memorable by going to one of these classy joints.
The Kitchin (78 Commercial Street) down in Leith is part of the area’s growing status as a popular culinary destination. Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin and his predominantly French waiting staff create an ambience that is slick and elegant but also very enjoyable - a difficult balance to strike. The menu is, in a word, fascinating: octopus carpaccio to start, followed by hake, with the most delicate, impossibly tasty lemon souffle for dessert. Also go for the adventure of exploring the area, and profit from the fact that Bond No. 9, one of Edinburgh’s best cocktail bars with some top-notch motown on the sound system, is right next door.
Hotel du Vin (11 Bristo Place) is closer to McEwan Hall and therefore more accessible if you want to start celebrating as soon as possible. It has a wine and whisky bar attached to the main restaurant in case you want to hit the booze more directly and have the food be a side attraction. The menu is an eclectic choice of macaroni and cheese or devilled calf’s liver for mains. If it’s all a bit overwhelming, opt for one of the excellent burgers and end the night with a whisky from the restaurant's extensive selection.
The Witchery by the Castle (The Royal Mile) will appeal to family members enamoured with Edinburgh’s castle. (And you as a graduate can enter it now! According to legend, if an Edinburgh University student crosses the threshold before they complete their degree, they will fail.) Built in 1595 and called Boswell’s Court after James Boswell, the underground dining space is a cross between a Scottish queen’s boudoir and a Roman symposium without the couches, with velvet drapes illuminated solely by candlelight and ludicrously attentive servers. A word of warning: emerging back into the 21st century after an evening at the Witchery will result in mild disappointment.
Whether you go to a chippy or a 600-year-old cloister, this is an evening first and foremost about you and the people who got you to where you are today. Good luck everyone!
The Kitchin 78 Commercial Street EH6 6LX Hotel du Vin 11 Bristo Place EH1 1EZ The Witchery by the Castle The Royal Mile EH1 2NF