Diva does… Angels with Bagpipes Restaurant

Angel with Bagpipes

The Angel with Bagpipes

Angels with Bagpipes is the latest addition to the Valvona and Crolla string of Edinburgh delis and eateries started in 1934 when Alfonso Crolla opened Valvona & Crolla on Elm Row, which is still there today.

It opened in July 2010 and is inspired by nearby St Giles’ Cathedral and the angel playing bagpipes in the Thistle Chaple. Lex McFadyen was commissioned to design the impressive bronze carving of an angel with bagpipes which stands in the restaurant window above the stairs.

The statue certainly has wow factor, but would the food…?
Mr Mac and I along with good friend Jane Stewart and her friend JR went along to find out…

We arrived to find that the restaurant had no record of our reservation (made earlier the same day). At one point, I feared that we’d have to eat elsewhere which would have been disappointing. However, the matter was resolved and we were seated.

The restaurant is atmospherically lit and welcoming. We were seated at a table where we would have enjoyed views through the floor to ceiling windows if it hadn’t been so dark. We also looked out onto a terraced area which I will return to try next Summer fingers crossed we get one!).  Furnished with contemporary styled wooden chairs, perfectly chosen flowers and elaborate candleabras, I liked the look. The restaurant was busy when we arrived at 7.30pm on a wet Thursday in October.

Angels with Bagpipes - Table

The menu is mouth-watering and offers enough choice to tantalise rather than perplex with 8 starters and mains, 5 desserts plus sides, it offers just that right amount of choice for my tastes. Starters are between £6.90 and £11.45, mains £12.95 – £26.95 and sweets £6.95 – £7.95.

As I’d had a rather fabulous 4-course lunch (bad planning!) I opted to skip the starter. Mr Mac and JR both opted for the creamed goats cheese. And what a triumph of artistry it was. It looked divine and according to Mr Mac and JR it tasted that way too.  I really should’ve insisted they order different starters for your benefit. I will live up to my Diva name next time. Mr Mac you have been warned!

Angels with Bagpipes - Goats cheese starter

Gorgeous goats cheese starter. Artistry on a plate

A visit to the ladies highlights the attention to detail on the style front. Sometimes, even in the chicest of restaurants, a visit to the facilities reveals the truth in the well-known phrase “fur coat and nae knickers”. Not so at Angels. I liked quirky touches such as Angels for the ladies (of course) and Bagpipes for the gents.

Ladies are Angels

Because as everyone knows, we girls are all angels

The staircase down takes you past the bronzed Angel with Bagpipes herself and gives me an opportunity to share another picture of her with you. I have a collection of this beauty shot from a range of angles. She is magnificent and a visit is Angels is well worth it just to see her.

Angel with Bagpipes

The Angel with Bagpipes

For main Mr Mac chose the pan fried calves liver. It was served on a bed of polenta and spinach. It looked good. Mr Mac was unimpressed though as it was too rare for his taste, though staff were happy to make it less bloody for him.

Angels with Bagpipes - Liver

Pan fried calves liver with polenta, spinach and balsamic sauce

Jane ordered the pan-fried stone bass with saffroon cous-cous, fennel and sauce vierge. It looked super and she declared it “a cut above”.

Angels with Bagpipes - Stone bass

Pan fried stone bass with saffron cous-cous, fennel an sauce vierge

JR ordered the Ayrshire pork cutlet and belly with cavalo nero and apple compote which looked as you’d expect. And judging by the cleanness of his plate afterwards he enjoyed it.

Angels with Bagpipes - Pork

Ayrshire pork cutlet and belly with cavalo nero and apple compote

I love scallops so asked if the Orkney scallops starter could be made into a main and Angels were happy to oblige. Oh! Oh! Oh! I have to say it tasted even better than it looks! Big scallops, juicy (yes I must use that word) and super delish, complemented by the black pudding in crispy balls and parsnip purée. One of the best scallop dishes in recent memory. And I’ve had a few!

Angels with Bagpipes - Scallops

Orkney scallops with Stornoway black pudding and parsnip purée

We really will have to go back as we couldn’t do justice to the menu. None of us could manage a sweet.  Coffee, petit fours and port finished off a delicious evening.

So does Angels with Bagpipes live up to the hype…?

…A resounding yes!
The service was good. The atmosphere intimate and the scallops exceptional. I look forward to going back to sample the sweets.

I recommend it and the special lunch menu available 12-6pm Monday to Saturday offers excellent value at 2 courses £13.95 and 3 courses for £17.95 


343 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PW

0131 220 1111

Angels with bagpipes on Urbanspoon

Read more in the Diva does… series

I’d love to hear your comments in the box below, tell me your thoughts
If you’ve written a review of Angels with Bagpipes, please leave a link to it in comments below.


10 responses to “Diva does… Angels with Bagpipes Restaurant

  1. Being a fellow Angel it sounds amazing to me and those scallops look to die for, several times over!

  2. We ate there recently and the food was lovely. Definitely liked the downstairs room with the huge wine store as it seemed cosier somehow. A great addition to the excellent restaurants which Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has.

  3. Hi Susan, Thanks for your comment. I will have to try the downstairs room on my next visit.

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  5. I have searched high and low on comments on this place and have now booked a table for next Friday. I myself enjoy food, and especially scallops, so I wonder what my starter will be! But, I am in distress. We, my partner and I, have a train back (Aberdeen) Saturday at 14.30, and I want somewhere nice for lunch where we don’t have to stress to catch the train afterwards. May I ask what your recommendations would be?

    • Hello D, lovely to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here after Angels & Bagpipes. I’d love to know what you think.

      For lunch on Saturday, I suggest Iris. It’s a lovely independent restaurant on Thistle Street so not far to walk for Waverley. It’s small with lovely lighting, good ambience, great food and great value. When I last went scallops featured on the £25 for 3 courses dinner menu. Staff are very good too. http://www.irisedinburgh.co.uk/

      Or you could try Castle Terrace Restaurant my review here http://edinburghdiva.com/2010/10/22/diva-does-castle-terrace-restaurant/ Castle Terrace is a real treat! And they do an exceptional lunch menu at £19.50 so if this is available on a Saturday that would be wonderful.

      Alternatively my favourite Thai restaurant – Dusit Thai – is also on Thistle Street. The staff are very friendly, have great memories (refer to things we said on visits months ago. How do they do it?!). This restaurant is adored by locals and always busy so I would suggest booking. It’s small and some people feel the tables are too close together. Personally, I love it and the food is to die for! My favourite main is gaeng massaman gaeng (not sure on spelling there!) which is a chicken dish in a lovely sauce. And you must try the sticky coconut rice. If seafood is your thing lots of fabulous starters to get you excited. http://www.dusit.co.uk/

      Have a great time in Edinburgh!

  6. Hi,

    Sorry for the late reply, I expected to have a notification if/when you replied to my comment. I didn’t, as you know, so I missed all your advise (for this time at least).

    Angels with Bagpipes was surprisingly good. We were seated downstairs, had great service and good food. I started with the Terrine of Chicken & foie gras which was… okay. I am very dedicated to foie gras terrine (very un-pc in Britain) so I am hard to please on that one. My companion had salmon and the composition and taste was no less then perfect. For mains I had the pan fried sea bream, which had a good texture and was beautifully arranged, while my companion had venison that supposedly was perfect. So all in all, very content. Only “bad thing” was the wine I choose that didn’t live up to what I thought. I would give it 4 out of 5.

    As I missed your recommendations we went for an early lunch Saturday at Oloroso so we had time to catch our train. It was an okay experience but I would not rate it higher than 3 out of 5, and even a low 3. What makes me deduct some on the rating is that as we arrived early (12pm) for lunch we were the first guests. This shouldn’t be a problem but for the first 30 minutes there was a builder walking around getting instructions from some of the staff, a fotographer was taking pictures of plates (for promotionel reasons I guess) the rest of the staff talked loudly and jokingly as you would expect an hour before they open and the service itself had to much attitude when they were at our table. To be fair I must say there was one very nice girl serving, but the rest seemed as to be delivering standard lines with no real interest in us or their job. Another important thing for a restaurant is the food!, which was… okay. I had a salmon for starter which was lovely (but is also difficult to ruin), while my companion had the spinach & ricotta tortellini which he thought lacked a litle seasoning. I had a special for main – risotto with langustine and haddock (or some white fish) – that was both fantastic and dissapointing. The risotto was powerfull and intense but completely overpowered the langustine and the fish. Shame! The risotto alone would be a hit, but then the £6 extra shouldn’t be on. My companion had another special, chicken, which looked a bit of a mess and was also a bit on the dry and boring side. With a bottle of wine the total ended on £80 for lunch, which for this kind of food and service doesn’t entitle it to more then the low rating.

    We did fall in love with the city though, and we will return! Do I dare say all your recommendations sounds lovely!? If you find yourself in need for similar recommendations in London, Aberdeen or Copenhagen (or Denmark in general) I will be happy to assist.

    I have just noticed the “notify me of follow-up comments via email”… dough! Now on, as well as a subscribtion to your blog. Who knows, maybe a recommendation is needed soon. (I will actually return already this week, but with work so I doubt I get a say on the restaurant).

    I appologise for spelling errors but 1: English is my second language. 2: I do not have Word on the old and dying laptop. 3: It is Sunday and I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I wanted to respond to your kind recommendations!


  7. Hello D! Thank you for your lovely and detailed post! I enjoyed it very much.

    Glad you enjoyed Angels with Bagpipes. I’m going back there in February for lunch with a group so looking forward to that.

    I’m sorry you were disappointed with Olorosso. I must admit, the thing I love most about Olorosso is the terrace. I’ve spent many a Summer’s afternoon basking in the sun enjoying a glass of wine. I must agree though that the food rarely gets above average on a consistent basis. It’s ‘good enough’ as you say, but comes with an ‘excellent’ price tag. Though that hasn’t stopped me eating there because of the terrace! When the sun comes out in Edinburgh (on those rare ocassions) Olorosso’s terrace is a fabulous place to be.

    Do get in touch when you’re next in Edinburgh, I’d love to meet you.

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