Running between Pleasance Dome and Pleasance Courtyard? Need a refuel after a three-hour marathon at the Stand, stat? Hungry like the wolf, thirstier than Donald Trump’s Twitter? As a companion to what shows to watch, Lydia Manch plans all your refuelling needs and works some of Edinburgh’s best into your Festival running order…
The Fringe is big. The Fringe takes stamina. Be tactical when it comes to your food, your drinking, your bars and your restaurants – or risk missed shows, a mid-comedy slump, and a stomach-rumbling so ferocious that comedians mistake it for a heckle and savage you for it.
Go for: Indian tapas.
Don’t be disheartened by the small, packed ground floor – there’s more seating downstairs and everything about this Infirmary Street restaurant is ideal for a Fringe dinner. It’s fast, unfussy and prices are low – it’s only clear just how low when you find out how phenomenally good the sharing plates are here. The Lamb Karahi, the Chaana Aloo and the butter chicken are all rich, warming and substantial enough to see you through a few back-to-back shows and an evening’s drinking.
Mother India, 3-5, Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT
Go for: gorse martinis, pine sap negronis, eclectic craft beer and a refuge from the rain.
Famous for their tasting menus, beautiful works of Scandi-Scottish simplicity, Timberyard isn’t cheap or a place to rush. Rather than race through dinner before a show, the main things during Fringe to know about Timberyard are: an incredible craft beer list – currently featuring some lesser-spotted Wild Beers, Mikkeller & 3 Floyds collabs and local Hanging Bat brews – and a wood-burning stove. It’ll be August, so you shouldn’t want a wood-burning stove, but it’s beautiful, intemperate Edinburgh so, you know, there’s a fair chance you will.
Go before: David O’Doherty’s Big Time at Assembly Hall.
Timberyard, 10, Lady Lawson Street, EH3 9DS
Go for: beers, obviously, and good ones. But this branch of Brewdog also boasts the hop cannon – one of their beers infused with a little something-something else: a bright blast of tropical fruit, maybe, or blood orange – and surprisingly brilliant stone-baked pizzas. Anything with jalapeno on it is a solid bet here.
Go before: Mae Martin’s Work in Progress at Laughing Horse @ City Café.
Brewdog Edinburgh, 143, Cowgate, EH1 1JS
Go for: whisky, a lot of whisky.
Also beers, bar snacks, drinkers spilling out onto pretty, cobbled Rose Street, and an extended licence for Fringe until 3am. But mostly: whisky.
Go after: Stewart Lee’s Content Provider at the Stand.
Black Cat Bar, 168, Rose Street, EH2 4BA
Go for: whisky and peach sorbet, coffee and cardamom gelato, and elusive doughnut-ice cream sandwiches.
When the weather bids fair, get your icecream to takeaway and eat it sitting on the hill opposite – climb Granny’s Green Steps till you find a free patch of grass – with a view over Grassmarket.
Go before: Something that brings out the exuberant child in you. Try Escape From the Planet of the Day that Time Forgot at Assembly Roxy.
Mary’s Milk Bar, 19, Grassmarket, EH1 2HS
Go for: a blow-out, poetic dinner in a beautifully weird setting.
We visited Paul Kitching’s 21212 last April and fell for their tasting menu hard – read the review here. This is in no way a place you should wedge in between shows, but if you want to offset the hours you spend at the Fringe in caves, basements, and marquees with some serious luxury then the brocade-covered, insect-printed dining room in 21212’s Calton Hill townhouse is the place to do it.
Go after: Kieran Hodgson’s Maestro at the Voodoo Rooms.
21212, 3, Royal Terrace, EH7 5AB.
Go for: stews, pies, good ales, and some restorative pub-vibe calm while the Festival whirls on at street level.
In the upstairs of a New Town terraced house, this feels like a quick break from the pace of the Fringe – still deservedly busy but with more locals than Fringe tourism when we’re there for lunch. On our visit they’re doing incredible things with beef shin and barley pie, among other Scottish-slanted dishes. While rapid pitstop’s totally feasible, getting drawn into brownies, beers and a three-hour rehash of your favourite shows is a known possible side effect here.
Go before: Daniel Kitson’s work in progress show at the Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4.
The Dogs, 110, Hanover Street, EH2 1DR.
Ting Thai Caravan
Go for: fast and furiously spicy rice and noodle boxes, and Teviot Place people-watching from a window seat.
Not that long ago Ting Thai were a summer pop-up, doing cheap, fast streetfood in cardboard boxes for Festival punters. Plus ça change – it’s still fast, it’s still cardboard boxes, it’s still pretty good-value. And it’s delicious. And messy. Try the Pad Thai, Khao Moo Dang pork loin and anything with the word marinated in the explanation.
Go before: Knightmare Live at the Pleasance Dome.
Ting Thai Caravan, Teviot Place, EH1 2RA
Go for: underground speakeasy setting and elaborate nightcaps. On our visit to Bramble we found ourselves lying in a velvet semi-bed carved into the wall, drinking stickily strong cocktails to pounding music in dim candlelight. Good and seedy, like a speakeasy should be.
Go after: Katherine Ryan’s Work in Progress at the Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6.
Bramble Bar, 16a, Queen Street, EH2 1JE
Go for: meat, more meat, craft beer and carbs.
This is a friendly, informal brewpub in the perfect spot for a pitstop between a number of Fringe venues in the Old Town. The selection of BBQd meat, hot dogs and Americana on offer’s outmatched only by the range of beers – their own brews and other locals. And if you’ve got the time and drive to make a crawl of it, you can barely move for a craft beer pub on this part of Lothian Road – head on to Red Squirrel and The Beer Kitchen after.
Go before: Daniel Kitson’s Mouse: the Persistence of an Unlikely Thought at the Traverse Theatre.
Hanging Bat, 133, Lothian Road, EH3 9AB