My favourite restaurants: Stuart Ralston

We chatted to Edinburgh chef Stuart Ralston to get some essential restaurant recommendations.

Updated on • Written By Pete Dreyer

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My favourite restaurants: Stuart Ralston

If you eat out in Edinburgh at all, chances are that you’ve eaten in one of Stuart Ralston’s restaurants. His debut restaurant Aizle opened in 2014, and played a big part in ushering in Edinburgh’s resurgent modern Scottish dining scene, delivering oft-changing menus that focused on seasonal Scottish produce. Many similar restaurants have followed, but Aizle remains a challenging place to get a booking, such is its popularity nearly ten years later.


Not content with just one hit restaurant, Ralston has added to his Scottish portfolio over the years. Next came Noto - a slick New York-inspired bistro in the heart of Edinburgh, which received a Bib Gourmand from Michelin shortly after opening. Noto’s easy-going menu was inspired by Ralston’s time in New York, where he worked for Gordon Ramsay at the chef’s first US restaurant - Gordon Ramsay at The London.

Another restaurant and bar followed in 2023 in the shape of Tipo - a relaxed Italian restaurant that specialises in fresh pasta, small plates, cocktails and charcuterie, which received a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2024. The plan was to stick with a compact portfolio of three distinct restaurants, but those plans changed later that same year, with the sad passing of legendary chef Paul Kitching, who’s Edinburgh restaurant 21212 had been a trailblazer in the Scottish capital for many years. With the support of Kitching’s wife Katie O’Brien, Ralston opened restaurant number four - Lyla - in the old 21212 site, ushering this beloved Edinburgh site into a new era. Arguably the crown jewel in Ralston’s budding empire, Lyla’s precise tasting menus shine a light on great Scottish seafood, and there’s a heavy emphasis on making the experience feel special and luxurious. The restaurant is still in its early days, but Lyla is already staking a claim as one of the most exciting restaurants to open in Scotland in the last few years.

With plenty of experience eating across the Atlantic and all over Europe, we had a chat with Stuart to get his pick of his favourite restaurants.

Ikoyi, London

dining room at ikoyi

Stuart says: ‘I ate here right before they received a second Michelin star, and genuinely felt like they were cooking in such an original style. Things I had never seen or tasted before made such an explosive impact on me, in regards to the spices and combinations. I remember a dish of fried octopus with yeasted béarnaise was such a perfect bite of food. The service and attitude of the staff was so gentle and warm without any ego. It’s the best meal I have had in London.’
Where: 180 Strand, Temple, WC2R 1EA
Book now: Ikoyi

L’Enclume, Cumbria

dish from l'enclume

Stuart says: ‘L’Enclume needs no introduction! I’m lucky to have eaten here a few times, and it always feels fresh and trendsetting. The produce - a lot grown at their own farm - is second to none and treated so gently - you can tell how much effort it takes to do what they do. Their crockery is always perfect which really adds to the whole experience. The food is perfectly balanced, delicious, and keeps surprising you over time. Service is also perfect and what a setting in the little village of Cartmel.’
Where: Cavendish Street, Cartmel, LA11 6PZ
Book now: L’Enclume

Eorna, Edinburgh

eorna counter

Stuart says: ‘I have always been a big fan of Brian Grigor’s cooking; he’s a chef that is willing to cook right in front of your eyes - confident in his work, but very humble. The place is beautifully designed, luxurious but still cool, and the food is solid cooking, classical flavour combinations and punchy flavours. I ate here when it just opened and the whole experience was so smooth, it felt like it had been there longer. Definitely one to try in Edinburgh if you’re looking for a more unique experience in the capital and in a lovely part of the town to explore.’
Where: 68 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, EH3 5AZ
Book now: Eorna

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York

blue hill stone barns farm

Stuart says: ‘I was lucky to be taken here for my birthday by my wife. The journey from the city by train up to Tarrytown was so picturesque, and seeing everything they grow on the farm is inspirational. The menu just highlighted a few key ingredients that were in season - combined with their elegant cooking style, the results are superb. Everything is simply done, but still has a huge amount of originality. Truly memorable.
Where: 630 Bedford Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591, United States

Frantzen, Stockholm

kitchen team at frantzen

Stuart says: ‘Another splash out birthday meal for my 40th, Frantzen is a very hard reservation to get but worth the wait in spades. You start the meal upstairs with snacks, then move below to see the chefs cooking and plating in front of you. The whole experience showed such confidence and skill, but most of all everything was just so delicious. I had never experienced better service in my life - the chefs joked with us, talked to us all night, and made us feel very special. The food was a mix of Japanese and Scandi, everything had purpose - simple, but also complex.’
Where: Klara Norra Kyrkogata 26, 111 22 Stockholm, Sweden

Le Chateaubriand, Paris

dishes from le chateaubriand

Stuart says: ‘This is a cool restaurant! I went about ten years ago, but it has remained memorable ever since. The meal itself was a no-choice, €50 set menu - it was fast paced, bustling, exciting and challenging at the same time, which I loved. You couldn’t book, so you just queue in hope of getting a table, and the build-up of anticipation adds to the experience. The staff are very cool and the food was simple, but such bold flavours stuck with me. So unique.’
Where: 129 Ave Parmentier, 75011 Paris, France

Looking for more recommendations? Check out some top favourites from Vivek SinghRoberta Hall-McCarron and Luca chef Rob Chambers for more of the UK’s must-visit restaurants.

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