Part 1 is below – check back for part 2 soon!
(1) Best for Japanese cuisine - Bonsai, West Richmond Street
Edinburgh’s first, and in my opinion, best Japanese restaurant. The sushi is fresh, tasty and generously apportioned, but what’s great about Bonsai is that you’re not backed into a teriyaki corner if you fancy something a bit different, with a wide range of non-rice (and non-fish, for that matter) options available. Make sure you try the okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese potato and vegetable pancake that comes served with what I can only describe as HP Brown Sauce’s much more delicious cousin. I would also recommend the mixed tempura, which comes in a light-as-air batter, and the agenasu, a chilli-spiked aubergine dish.
Near to: festival comedy behemoth The Pleasance, which has a buzzy courtyard that does a fine line in cider in plastic cups, fairylights and minor celebrity spotting.
(2) Best for luxury grazing and boozy festival lunching: Hotel Du Vin, Bristo Place.
I’ve recently fallen in love with the Starters and Savouries selection at Hotel Du Vin, which offers a departure from the rather staid menu stalwarts of pâté and soup – perfect if you’re in the mood for a quick lunch or an indulgent spot of tapas-style grazing (I usually get two - or three if I'm feeling especially gluttonous - which leave me pleasantly full). I love the cheese soufflé, the roast marrow bone on toast and the salt-and-shake whitebait – which comes in a sweetly gimmicky brown paper bag with salt and vinegar.
Very reasonably priced for the superb quality of the food (although the wine is eye-wateringly expensive), and if you prefer more a traditional dining format, then there's also a great dinner deal – two courses, a bottle of wine and coffee for £17.50 a head.
(3) Best for hangover cures (or hamburgers): The Cambridge Bar, Young Street.
If you fall foul of Edinburgh’s 5am festival club licences, I recommend fighting off the grimy hangover fuzz at gourmet burger heaven The Cambridge Bar. The hamburgers here are teetering skyscrapers - I’ve struggled to finish mine in the past on account of their gargatuan size - but happily there's plenty of quality along with the quantity - plus there’s a fantastic range of unusual toppings to choose from. You have to pay separately for sides, so it's not the cheapest soaker-upper you’ll find in Edinburgh, but it's well worth the few extra pennies.
Near to: the incredibly popular Edinburgh Book Festival– a more sedate but still bustling pocket of festival action at Charlotte Square. You can check out what’s on here, but tickets sell like hotcakes so if you spy something you fancy you’d be advised to get down to the box office pronto.
Check back for recommendations next week!