“ 99-101 Dalry Road / Edinburgh / Tel: 0131 313 4404. „
First Coast opened on Dalry Road, a five minute walk from Haymarket train station, in around April 2003. I used to walk up Dalry Road on my way to and from work and watched with interest as a cosy-looking, fairly stylish (but not pretentious) appearing restaurant started to take shape. It's in an unusual location - if you get the train to Haymarket, you walk in the opposite direction to the city centre and is most certainly no it surrounded by bars that you would be heading to for a night out or even a quiet drink. However, it is on the route from the city centre to the Fountainbridge complex (cinema,bowling, gym, chain restaurants (so would get some passing trade but it's not necessarily somewhere you would pass). Anyway, when the doors first opened, it was empty. Walking past, the place looked inviting but vacant and I wondered how long it would last. That was clearly the period when word was spreading... Cleverly, the restarurant offers a Lunch (12.00pm-2.00pm Monday to Saturday) and early evening (5.00pm-6.30pm Monday to Friday) menu which is exceptional value at £6.95 for a main course or £9.95 for a main and a dessert. This is how I first discovered it (well actually, it was my turn to cook on a Tuesday night and dinner for 2 for £20 seemed like a good get-out option!). The food itself is good, proper Scottish food - no stodge, just nicely cooked, interesting meals. I'm not generally a salad fan in a restaurant (feels a bit of a waste when someone else is cooking?!) but the warm thai chicken salad is amazing. I think I've had it about 6 times now and I've never been disappointed. In fact, I've never been disappointed with anything there. It's the sort of place that I tend to try new things because I know that they're going to be well-cooked so it's a good introduction. For example, not being a fish fan, I have discovered, and now love, their coley and mash! Also, the burgers (which look disappointinly small when you first see them) are jam packed full of juicy, non-greasy meat and a hefty meal when you start into it. The desserts are great too (if you can make it that far!) The place got a lot of publicity about its deep fried jam sandwiches (which I've not seen on the menu for a while) and they were surprisingly yummy (forget the deep fried mars bar connotations!) As well as the food, there's a detailed wine selection (21 at the last count!) and very reasonably priced. The staff are great for recommending popular choices (and not just the dearest ones!) The staff are exceptionally helpful - very laid back and helpful. No pushiness, no rushed dinner and very welcoming. It's the sort of place that you can really relax and enjoy some good food whilst getting good value for money. As well as the lunch/early evening menu, the a la carte options are also cracking value. My boyfriend and I have been out for meals for various occasions in pricey and well-known restaurants in town but none of them has impressed us as much as First Coast. It's the sort of place that you feel like you've stumbled across and then you find out that it's the best-loved restaurant of 28 of your friends!! It recently expanded and is equally good for groups (without being rowdy) or small parties. Not far from the centre, worth branching out and a restaurant that you'll never be scared to recommend - I can't rate it highly enough. Top tip: it's often listed on www.5pm.co.uk where you can book the early evening menu until later (e.g. 9pm instead of 6.30pm). If you live in Edinburgh, you're there for a holiday, a weekend or just the night - please go! You won't be disappointed! PS If you're going on a Saturday night, book in advance - the days of empty tables are long gone!!