For many people the idea of 'going to the Dogs' has derogatory undertones, and indeed only yesterday a friend raised her eyebrows sceptically when I said that I had had a great meal at the Dogs the night before. But even if this recommendation requires a side order of disambiguation it's well worth making it. For my money (or, indeed, for whoever is picking up the bill) the Dogs offers the best value and best quality food in the city, and given a free choice it's always my first thought when picking a place to eat.
Centrally located in the New Town on Hanover Street, the Dogs has two dining rooms on the first floor, up a flight of stairs from the street. Independently owned and managed, the Dogs offers both lunch and dinner menus that combine finest quality ingredients, showcasing Scotland's wealth of produce, with classic and unfussy presentation.
The selections change regularly, but you are guaranteed an interesting choice of dishes that stands apart from the fare offered at most city restaurants. You'll find the likes of a homemade burger and battered fish and chips sitting alongside less familiar combinations incorporating ingredients or cuts of meats often absent from mainstream eateries, such as mutton or ox shin.
Highly recommended are the dishes to share - I have fond memories of a huge piece of unspeakably tender ham on the bone with parsley sauce, and am often too easily tempted to share the 18oz steak with chunky chips. And although I'm no wine aficionado, the wine list offers a more than decent choice for those who want to complement the contents of their plates with the content of their glasses.
The atmosphere is relaxed, with founder and owner David Ramsden often found alongside his staff on table service. A smaller back room offers overspill accommodation from the main dining room, and from the front door to the corridor to the loos you'll find quirky decor and styling that reflects the canine-inspired branding.
If you're visiting the city and are looking for contemporary Scottish cuisine that satisfies, excites and comforts, you won't do better than the Dogs. And getting this quality at these prices (especially for lunch) puts many other city restaurants to shame - as a local, I have struggled to find such great dining at such good prices elsewhere. Booking is advised to guarantee getting a table, and be sure to take your appetite as this is one meal you won't want to risk being too full to finish.
Check it out at www.thedogsonline.co.uk.
Edinburgh Expert is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh with 18 years of experience living and working in the city.