As it turns colder and darker, we’re heading indoors to eat and drink... happily Edinburgh has some brilliant brand new venues to while away an autumnal afternoon or evening. By Ailsa Sheldon

Seafood lovers, rejoice! Edinburgh’s hottest new restaurant, Dulse, by chef and restaurateur Dean Banks, is a glorious celebration of Scottish fish and shellfish. It’s a sharing-plates style affair – easy when it’s octopus, a little harder when chasing langoustine tails in a soupy sauce. But go with a good friend and you’ll be fine (or order your own). For anyone with frequent ordering envy, it’s the dream. 

Fish dominate the decor with maritime murals and bold art with an elegant New Town feel, a long wooden bar, tall scalloped bar stools and velvet banquette seating. The service is friendly and the wine list compelling.

I can’t resist plump Cumbrae oysters, and try one with Bloody Mary and one with lime and jalapeno, both giving a tangy lift without overpowering the creamy oyster. The Bloody Mary maybe had the edge but I’d need another half dozen to be sure. 

The Arbroath Smokie tart had a thin crisp pastry filled with a foamy smoked fish custard (a lot more appetizing than it sounds). Tender octopus tentacles were a great match for a smoky burnt tomato sauce and lemon pearl barley. Sweet langoustine tails came swimming in an aromatic pea and coconut broth. 

The crowning glory was the catch of the day, John Dory on the bone, cooked simply in butter allowing the flavour of the fish to shine. With it we loved the warm salad of yellow courgettes and tomatoes, plenty of buttery lemon sauce to generously drizzle, and unnecessary but enjoyable seaweed potatoes and garlic broccoli on the side. 

Seafood restaurants can be predictable, Dulse is anything but. The dishes are truly inventive, showcasing the quality produce, but also the skill and flair in the kitchen. I’m already plotting a return trip to try the rest of the menu.

The National:
There’s always space in the city for a brilliant new Indian restaurant and happily we have just that with Cilantro. Owner Mohammad Abbas and family also run popular Bo’ness Spice. The sabzi pakora were crisp and light and full of vegetables with a very moreish chilli sauce. 

We loved the Prawn Jalfrezi, which was rich and spicy with juicy king prawns, peppers and onions. Achari baingan was a new dish to me: succulent slices of aubergine almost melting into an aromatic sauce with little sour bursts of pickled fruit. 

Even the simplest dishes are extraordinary, surely the mark of a talented chef. The tarka dal has such a deep flavour and a mellow spice I could have eaten just that and been happy. 

Ask for a larger table if, like us, you have a tendency to over-order (no regrets).

Plant Bae
Plant Bae is Edinburgh’s newest café dedicated to vegetarian and vegan food. This cheery mint and pink hang-out has the same owner as Stockbridge’s Grams and a similar easygoing vibe. 

On the menu there’s vegan nachos, avocado toast and stacks of waffles, perfect any time of day dining. 

With its pretty Instagrammable dishes and bold patterned walls, Plant Bae is already a hit with the younger vegan crowd and becoming a neighbourhood favourite on Easter Road.

You can’t walk past Krema without ogling the baked goods, chewy cookies and fancy cakes. It specialises in Greek brioche – have one topped and filled with chocolate and pistachios. This shiny new bakery and new(ish) neighbours Argonaut Books and Pekoe Tea have joined Logan Malloch in making the bottom of Leith Walk quite the destination . . . and it’ll be even nicer when the tram works are finished.

Ahead of the dining experience curve in Edinburgh, popular Marchmont cafe Elliott’s has opened a new venue at 21 Sciennes Road, dedicated to workshops and pop-up events.

The summer series featured long table lunches with a cooking demonstration and incredible three-course lunch, while the farmhouse cider and conversation flowed. Autumn tickets are available now and there’s rumours of pie.