Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Montpeliers Bar & Brasserie, Edinburgh

The Location
The upmarket residential district of Bruntsfield near Morningside, is a charming and lively part of southside Edinburgh, adjoining the Meadows a vast expanse of tree fringed parkland, although it's just a short walk from Tollcross and the centre of town. With its gourmet food, wine, fashion, homeware and gift boutiques, restaurants and bars right along Bruntsfield Place, this is an inspiring area to visit for a browse around the shops. Visit Montpeliers for lunch, for a pre theatre supper (Kings Theatre and cinemas nearby), a few drinks with friends, Sunday brunch or a relaxing (and very reasonable) evening meal.

The Restaurant

Montpeliers opened in 1992, the first bar and restaurant to be launched by the Montpelier company, which has since then developed in leaps and bounds to create no less than eight chic and contemporary cocktail bars and restaurants including two luxury boutique hotels around the city. These include the quirky Indigo Yard with garden patio hidden down a cobbled lane at the West End, Opal Lounge on George Street (frequented by Prince William when he attended St. Andrews university), and nearby the Tigerlily lifestyle hotel (with bar, restaurant and nightclub) which has won numerous awards for its exciting interior design, and also recently presented with the award for "Sexiest Hotel in Scotland" for its glamorous suites.
Renowned for cutting edge, urban style and design across the group, Montpeliers has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. In the cosy, comfortable café- bar are huge classy brown leather Chesterfield sofas and a scattering of velvet tub chairs, (just imagine a scene from Friends). Next door in the restaurant are rows of intimate tables and private booths, with a stunning black and white floral flock wallpaper right down the length of the side wall. The new look creates more of a romantic, laid back French café-Bistro ambience: this is an all day place to eat and drink from breakfast coffee and croissants to cocktails at sundown.

The Food
I visited Montpeliers for lunch one Friday and the place was full to capacity - luckily a table was reserved in the tightly packed bistro. The menu is extensive offering every style to suit a light snack, quick healthy bite or serious food for a hearty appetite so take your time to choose - it's all so appetising. What is most appealing are the prices, simple, straightforward and reasonable - £ 2 (garlic bread) £4 starter, £ 6 (sandwich) £ 8, (main course).

The quality and provenance of the produce is important here and the menu lists some of the prime suppliers: Fish and seafood comes from local Eddie's seafood market, Marchmont, meat is from Findlays in Portobello and cheese from Clarke's Speciality Food, just down the street in Bruntsfield.

Start perhaps with a plate of Nachos smothered in melted cheese, salsa and guacamole, or a Mediterranean Sharing Platter oozing with the taste of sunshine - goat's cheese crostini, roasted tomatoes, tuna skewers, Greek salad and herb foccacia. Alternatively classic favourites - Ribs with BBQ sauce, Mussels or French onion soup.

For main course, tried and tested is the Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli with tomato and mascarpone sauce as well as the Charred Tuna, (tender and juicy), warm potato and rocket salad with lime and coriander dressing - a delicious variation of tuna nicoise. Every dish sampled was freshly prepared and created with care. Elsewhere on the lunch menu Beef Steak Burger, Pork and onion sausages with mash and shallot gravy, and selection of gourmet sandwiches (steak ciabatta, brie and roasted vegetables). There's an enticing choice of side orders such as mustard and spring onion mash, roasted root vegetables, mixed leaf salad and Cajun potato wedges. And to finish, dare you resist the Banoffee Pie or Lemon tart, washed down with a frothy cappuccino.

The Dinner menu offers a selection of the lunchtime starters, fish, pasta and salad dishes with the addition of quality seafood section - pan fried scallops, sea bass with a mussel and saffron broth, as well as Grills - rib eye, rump steak, chicken breast served with salad, fries and choice of wild mushroom, bearnaise or chilli butter sauces. Vegetarians are well catered for and you'll find plenty of healthy options for the dieting diner.

Breakfast at Montpeliers is an institution - and so popular at the weekends that breakfast turns into Brunch on Saturday and Sunday and served all day from 9am to 6pm. This is where to come any day of the week for a serious Mixed grill fry up or Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. With a spicy Bloody Mary on the side, this is the antidote to a late night on the town. Enjoy Fairtrade coffee or try the Montpelier smoothie - apple juice with fresh kiwi, mango, melon, pineapple and yoghurt.

Drinking is much of an occasion here as eating so join the sophisticated Cocktail brigade for Hemingway's favourite Mojito stuffed with mint leaves, Mexican lime, Appelton white rum or the girls may go for a pink Cosmopolitan - Absolut Citron vodka, cointreau, cranberry and fresh lime. Just as the provenance of food is important here, so is the standard of gin with Hendrick's Gin which is distilled in Ayrshire. Beer drinkers will relish the choice of the mouthwatering list of premium brand names including the new wheat beer Grolsch Weizen, as well as the usual suspects, Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, Budwesier, Belhaven, Tiger and Stella. For wine drinkers, there are five wines served by the glass (small and standard) and a worldwide selection from Australia to South Africa.

Staff at Montpelier group of restaurants are all trained in house with their own Cocktail academy and barista coffee courses as well as wine tasting events so that service is knowledgeable and professional.

The Bill
See for current menu and prices.

Further Information
Montpeliers Bar & Brasserie is at 159-161 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. For more information see Montpeliers Web Site or to make a reservation, telephone 0131 229 3115 or e-mail

If the New York TV comedy show Sex and the City was relocated to Edinburgh, then I expect Carrie and her friends would end up at Montpeliers for Saturday brunch before heading to Harvey Nichols. That's how designer cool it is! It's a chic cafe during the day transforming into a cool cocktail bar and smart restaurant at night. It seems to cater for every age and taste - local residents, mums with toddlers, students, business lunches, couples and groups of friends. You can easily see why people would return time and time again "Meet you at Montpeliers" must be a regular shout around friends who live nearby. The contemporary European (with a taste of Asian spice) menu offers exceptional quality and good value for all appetites from healthy salads and smoothies to Battered haddock and chips.

15 years on from its first day and Montpeliers at Bruntsfield is a sure fire business success. Most impressive are the opening hours from 9am to 1am - seven days a week to cater for a hungry and thirsty clientele. As you will realise, it's extremely popular at all times of day and night, so make sure you book a table.

And don't just believe me - here's a recent review by a happy young diner.

The food is really good. I had an ace breakfast there yesterday. The waitress was gorgeous and service fast. It gets busy at night but the cocktails are some of the best I've had in Edinburgh. 5 stars.

So, meet you at Montpeliers, sometime soon?!

Vivien Devlin
British Guild of Travel Writers
April 2008

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