The Lunchquest bandwagon is unlikely to get everywhere, although we’re giving it a damn good try. There are places that come up in conversation in terms of “I can’t believe you haven’t been there”, with a degree of frequency. Top of the list is Martin Wishart, but over the years the Michelin star places have become less relevant for what this site is about, I think. Next on the list is the cafe at the Portrait Gallery, so I was happy to rectify that, today.



The previous version of the café, prior to the major refurbishment works that took place recently, was much loved. When this revamped café opened, there was some initial frostiness, but it has grown to be as popular as ever.

I lunched on a Friday, and it was completely mobbed, so much so that I had to break through my natural Edinburgh reserve and join a table where one of my fellow diners was already sitting. Michty me!

Soup and sandwich

Soup and sandwich

This was after I had queued, canteen style, to pick up my lunch of the day, which was a soup and sandwich combo. The soup was parsnip, bacon and thyme, and the sandwich featured brie, spinach, roasted vegetables and sundried tomatoes.

After successfully scaring away my dining companion with over-enthusiastic pleasantries, I got down to eating business. The soup was plenty warm enough, so the sandwich got my initial attention. It proved to be very good, with a fresh soft roll filled with plentiful savoury filling. It was simple and highly effective.



The soup was really good, too. With the strong flavours of parsnip and bacon collaborating well. The thyme was a bit lost in the mix, but it was still a really satisfying soup.

So overall, the food on offer at Café Portrait was very good. The building is extremely impressive, with great artwork everywhere, as you’d expect. The counter service could be a little more efficient, but they seemed to manage the lengthy queue relatively well. For a relaxed lunchtime bite, I’d be happy to point you in the direction of this place.

Blythe scores Cafe Portrait
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20

I ate: parsnip, bacon and thyme soup; brie and roasted veg roll

I drank: water

I wore: loud pink

Total bill: £6.75

Cafe Portrait on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR