Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Nikki, 41
wine, beer and booze writer
see her Edinburgh city guide

ask Nikki about

performing arts fine dining art galleries viewpoints food shopping value for money wine bar

What do you do and why do you do it?

I run my own business writing, designing flavour maps, creating apps, creating pop up events and training hospitality staff. My specialist subject is wine but I'm also fluent in whisky and beer! I combine my love for wine as social glue, the thing that brings people together with my fascination with taste and flavour. I love the fact that every day is completely different and it's always creative. I get to meet fascinating people every day and to bounce off of them to create cool things.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

For wallowing: Wild Horse, Rolling Stones; Don't Leave, Faithless; How can you mend a broken heart; Al Green; Cinema, Rodrigo Leao; Bats in the Attic, King Creosote. To pick me up: Mr Brightside, The Killers; Chemmie, Joan as Policewoman; Up all Night, Beck;

What are the best TV shows of all time?

Best recent shows; Catastrophe for it's painfully real humour and sharp writing and Peaky Blinders for its drama and storytellin. I'd love to go back and watch 90's cult classic My So Called Life again, to see if its as good as I remember - it struck such a chord with my angsty teenage self. If I was going British I think Monty Python has to win, it doesn't date and so many of the sketches are part of our DNA. And if I was picking a US box set I think the Sopranos would get my vote - I've not really got the patience for long series, I rarely get past the first season, but I'd love to get snowed in and watch it all again!

Name some spots in Edinburgh that are good for a Tinder date.

As I'm married this is purely hypothetical, honest! I'd save dinner and nights out for further down the dating line and try and do something a bit more experiential... Maybe a trip to Jupiter Artland, it's an outdoor sculpture park so great for a bit of exploring, with enough talking points to keep the conversation flowing - and there's the obligatory cafe to check out his/her coffee tastes too! Or a trip to the Sunday food market in Stockbridge, lots of hustle and bustle followed by a coffee or better still a cheeky wine at local wine hangout Smith and Gertrude.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Hmmmm, if you say so! I like mixing it up but get most of my basics online and then shop our independent boutiques and makers for unusual things to brighten up what I'm wearing. Edinburgh has got a good mix of independent boutiques, vintage and pop ups. I keep an eye on places like Creative Edinburgh and Hill Street Design House for when they run pop ups for their members to sell their creations, and also head to Thistle Street or the West End. I'm not a fan of big fashion so ALC on Thistle Street is a go to for jeans and cool independent brand knitwear and tops, Adele gives great advice and is very unfussy which suits me.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

A shopping centre or retail park! Happily they're knocking the biggest one in Edinburgh down so that's one less to avoid!

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

Getting out for a walk! Edinburgh is a city of nooks and crannies, lows and highs and it's so easy to explore on foot which means you see them all. It's also got a lot of a green space. I love the Water of Leith which is a river walk right through Edinburgh which ends up at the shore in Leith, most people don't even know it's there, it's below eye level and leafy. And I love the high points of Arthurs Seat, Blackford Hill and Calton Hill, the views at the top are worth the puff getting up to them!

What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Edinburgh and where did you get it?

I've had some epic tasting menus and dinners in Edinburgh but I think the most 'extreme' was actually a menu inspired by artisan bread at a fantastic, sustainable restaurant Cafe St Honore. They held a special menu with local, traditional grain bread as the focus for each course and whilst it was delicious I had a bread hangover for days!

Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Edinburgh that you particularly like?

This isn't exactly a hidden bar but if you didn't know it was there you might not find it. The Devils Advocate is in one of Edinburgh's 'closes' the steep alley ways in the Medieval area off of the Royal Mile. You either climb or descend some of the steps to find this doorway to find a bar with an amazing whisky and cocktail selection nestled into the old stone buildings. They also have a great menu.

What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Edinburgh? How much did it cost and what did you get there?

I've managed to spend a lot on fancy meals - more than I'd care to remember! Not sure what the most expensive was, but I imagine it was The Kitchen on Commercial Quay. The food was exquisite, the wine was expensive and the overall experience was a bit too fancy for me. I prefer it a bit more laid back which is why I love Timberyard, Aizle and Gardeners Cottage more. Their cooking is impeccable but the experience is less formal.

What restaurant in Edinburgh looks crap, but the food’s amazing?

Mr Kim's Mini Meals is very unassuming from the outside and inside but it's worth every second. It's a tiny Korean restaurant near the meadows... The decor is a la grandma, ceramic cottages included but the food is anything but! Mr Kim is front of house and helps navigate the menu and Mrs Kim cooks up a storm. The omelette starters and Bimbibap in a hot stone dish are musts as is the broth, but beware it's spicy!

Where can you get the best cocktail in Edinburgh? Which one do you like?

Edinburgh is blessed with a few great cocktail bars, Bramble and the Last Word Saloon are my go to's, more hidden basement bars! I'm a classic cocktail girl so I'd be having a Last Word (which I like having anyway!).

Where would you take your partner in Edinburgh if you wanted to really pamper them?

Fletcher's Cottage and Archerfield, a country park about half an hour from Edinburgh. It's very chilled, laid back and cosy, not your usual spa vibe.

Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?

Scottish food isn't known for its elegance and style but I'm not going to recommend a deep fried mars bar!! But Scotland does make some amazing cheese and charcuterie which you can't get anywhere else. Head to Mellis, Henri or George Mews to explore their selections - make sure your try the Corra Linn, Blue Murder and Clava Brie!

What’s the one place you think is overrated in Edinburgh?

All of the tartan shops on the Royal Mile - avoid at all costs!

What’s the one place you think is underrated in Edinburgh?

The Meadows, not many visitors come to the South Side of town but the Meadows is a great place to come and people watch. It's a free for all and you'll find people playing every single sport, including cricket and Quidditch, especially in festival season when you'll find performers practicing, slack rope walking and everything imaginable! It's also a great spot for a picnic or when you want to dip out of the madness.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Edinburgh. How do you spend it?

I'd get a gang of my favourite people together hit the galleries, probably the Fruitmarket, Open Eye and Gallery of Modern Art, then assemble a picnic from some of my favourite delis which we'd eat on the Meadows, before climbing Arthurs Seat and ending up in the Traverse Theatre for a show and then a few drinks in the Traverse bar, which is famous for its show after parties.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Soooo hard! Barcelona? It has a bit of everything and you can just wander.By the sea, amazing architecture, cava bars, great food, gaudi buildings, picasso gallery, pinchos bars...

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