Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Rafael, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Rafael is at 2 Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh (telephone 0131 332 1469)

This attractive and intimate restaurant, tucked away down a few steps, sits on the corner beside the old bridge at the Water of Leith. It was until fairly recently a popular local cafe, the Bib and Tucker, but now Rafael has transformed it into a lively Spanish bistro. Unlike several Spanish restaurants around the city, this is not a tapas bar and specialises in a small but varied Mediterranean menu, which changes daily and is based on the freshest fish, meat and seasonal vegetables available that day. Rafael comes from Cordoba in the region of Andalucia in southern Spain and many of the dishes including salads, home-made bread, and typical tortilla are local Andalucian recipes.

The Restaurant
Rafael left his native Spain some years ago and has since worked in the United Kingdom, both as chef and hotel management, latterly at Dalhousie Castle just outside Edinburgh, from where knowledge of his reputation has followed him to this new venture in his own restaurant.

From the moment you walk through the door at Rafael's you are greeted with the delightfully happy smile from the bubbly Tania, his South American assistant who ushers you inside. The dozen tables or so have vases of fresh flowers, peach roses to tone in with the ochre walls. The menu is written on a giant blackboard which is brought to your table to save strained eyesight and twisted necks.

The Food
I began with a perfect avocado and smoked salmon salad and my dining partner enjoyed a colourful vegetable terrine. A basket of freshly baked Spanish bread, served with olive oil, was also brought to the table, a filling starter in itself. Then a tender fillet of seabass, beautifully prepared, for me, and a spinach and ricotta cheesy bake, for him.

Speciality Spanish desserts were offered to complete the meal, and we soon lapped up a light and refreshing lemon cake and an amaretto tart. Suitable classic Spanish guitar music in the background and a very lively buzz of other diners all around enjoying a fun night out - great ambience, delicious cooking - what more would you want.

The Bill
Contact Rafaels for current menu and prices.

In the few months since Rafael`s has opened many diners have become regulars and word of mouth entices more people to make the journey to Stockbridge. If requested in advance Rafael will prepare a Tapas meal, ideal for a group of friends, perhaps for a birthday party. Rafael and Tania will be your perfect hosts.

Vivien Devlin

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