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  • “The hidden joy about having a bunch of starters between two people is that there's room for dessert!” in 3 reviews

  • “The menu is hand-written and simple, with about five starters and the same number of mains to choose from.” in 3 reviews

  • “I get the impression the menu changes weekly or perhaps daily, but if the duck with apples is still on I can heartily recommend it.” in 2 reviews

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  • 5.0 star rating
    8/10/2013
    3 check-ins here

    I have to say that I was quite smitten by this place... after a failed attempt one weekend to "pop in" it was clear a reservation is a must on most busy evenings... armed with this knowledge I came back a few weekends later with a friend to see what all of the fuss was about.

    I believe the menu changes over time, but we didn't even make it to the mains on this occasion... what we did do is order every single starter, and I mean every single one... that is not an exaggerated statement, and I think we actually ordered two of one.  The mains looked great as they went by to others, and I remember a whole cooked fish of some sort that looked fantastic, but we couldn't decide on starters as they all sounded too good... luckily the waitress was quite nice and happy to oblige us with our mini on request buffet... to be honest I was a bit worried about it because the place seems "fancy" to a commoner like me, but the worry was unfounded.

    The standout starter for me was the "Hand Dived Scallop with Garlic & Pernod Butter, Toasted Almonds"... come to think of it, I have no idea what a "pernod" is... but the dang thing was delicious!  I made a note to order a scallop anytime it's on the menu here.  I also really like the "Parma Ham with Salami served with Homemade Russian Salad"... think parma ham and salami on top of potato salad and you'll get the idea, odd sounding, but tasty.  Their "Gazpacho topped with Parma Ham & Olive Oil" was a treat as well, a bit different than I have had elsewhere, but that seems to be the norm with restaurant made gazpacho... I certainly wouldn't hesitate to order it again.

    The only starter I didn't really love was the "Salmon Carpaccio with Soya & Sesame Dressing, Chilli, Spring Onions, & Coriander"... but, to be fair, I'm not a huge fan of most types of salmon, gravlax being the exception.  It's not that I wouldn't recommend it to someone that liked the sound of it, don't get me wrong, it was just such a good showing for the other starters on this particular night.

    The hidden joy about having a bunch of starters between two people is that there's room for dessert!  Well, at most places... I guess that highlights that the starter portions weren't huge here, but definitely starter appropriate.  For desert we split a "Frangipane Tart", and as someone new to such a dessert was pleasantly surprised... it had a great texture and just the right level of sweetness.  

    Unfortunately I can't remember the cost of our little adventure, but I know it wasn't bad despite all of the dishes ordered.

    All in all this is one of the places that I would like to take friends visiting Edinburgh, assuming they have had enough time to try some local stuff of course, and I'm personally hoping to get back soon... I might even try I main if I'm daring enough, but I certainly wouldn't be mad at myself if I went all starters again. ;-)

  • 4.0 star rating
    24/4/2014
    1 check-in here

    There are two Cafe Marlayne's in Edinburgh. I'd been to the other one on Antigua St for brunch and was impressed by the big, sunny back room and comprehensive menu - a great cafe to relax with friends. So I was keen to check out this Cafe Marlayne on Thistle St and see if it was similar.

    I'd agreed to meet a friend for lunch and with thoughts of the other Cafe Marlayne, I was expecting a big, airy cafe that served the usual cafe menu options like soups, salads and sandwiches. How wrong was I! This Cafe Marlayne isn't really a cafe at all - it's a French bistro. And it's much smaller but in a cosy, cute sort of way. There are about 7 or 8 tables all laid out with cutlery and glassware for a proper sit down lunch. You're shown to your table, so it's more formal than a cafe. And the tables are a little close together so get ready to rub shoulders with your fellow diners! But it's a nice atmosphere and, as Ben L. says below, the service is casual but attentive.

    As for the menu, it's handwritten on a piece of paper giving the feel that it was unique for today and there are starters and main courses as options. I went for the rump steak burger and my friend chose the chicken kiev. Sounds a bit basic but what a delight when the food arrived! Full marks to the chef - this was top quality!

    Once we'd devoured our lunches, the bill was a pleasant surprise at £20 for two. Very reasonable for restaurant quality food.

    So don't be fooled by the Cafe in the name. This is a French bistro that's a great place for sit down, bistro style lunch and I imagine it makes an intimate, possibly romantic spot for dinner in the evening when the candles and French wine come out!

  • 4.0 star rating
    8/5/2013
    1 check-in here

    Sunday Bloody Sunday......so says the song.....finding a restaurant for a Sunday is a challenge I come up against way more than I would like but finally I have found a superb Sunday offering that inst a Sunday roast.

    Cafe Marlayne is a wonderfully quaint and cosy restaurant  adding some French flare to the international gastronomy that can be found of Thistle Street.

    On entering you immediately feel relaxed and as if you could be at home, the ambiance is great. The menu comes as a printed page reflecting the seasonal approach to produce they have and the ever changing options to be enjoyed.

    For starter I opted for the boudin noir (black sausage), with apple puree, and sauteed potatoes. Lovely dish that I have to say could have been taken to another level with a little scallop.

    My scallop cravings still in mine my main soon rectified this, pork belly with queen scallops and herb salad, Was delightful. The fat on the pork was very well cooked down to just  leave tender succulent meat. Presentation was lovely and the tastes delightful.

    Add a bottle of wine, 3 coffees, one desert and 2 drambuies and to have a bill come in under £100 for 3 people was a pleasant surprise.

    A great place for a great meal, highly JD Recommended.-

  • 3.0 star rating
    25/6/2013
    1 check-in here

    Came here because of the rave reviews, and it was a mixed bag for me. Loved the interior, which was really cute, and thought that the hand written menu was a nice touch. I thought th emenu would have been

    I got the pork loin chops, and though it was good, it felt like something I could have made at home. The sides with the dish weren't anything special.

    Dessert, however was really good. I ordered the earl grey panna cotta which came with a drizzling of raspberry sauce (I believe) with some crunchy bits. The sauce and the crunchy bits helped the dessert a lot. We ordered several desserts, and this was by far my favorite. The other cakes were either too dry or the flavor wasn't all that great

  • 5.0 star rating
    27/11/2012
    1 check-in here

    This place had been on my radar for a while but for some reason the name put me off. I associate cafés with coffee and cake rather than a hearty lunch on a rainy Sunday. But when I looked in the window and saw the sophisticated interior, I suspected they had more to offer. A quick check on Yelp revealed a 5-star rating so we knew we were in safe hands.

    It turns out that the simple name conceals a classy French bistro serving a short menu of elegant dishes. The menu is hand-written and simple, with about five starters and the same number of mains to choose from. The wine list is reasonable and bread and water at the table on arrival just add to the experience.

    We shared some grilled goats cheese with apple, salad and hazelnuts to start - simple and delicious, classic French grub. Gillian's sea bream main course was excellent but I really lucked out with my choice: lamb rump with polenta, cherry tomatoes and salsa verde. See the photo to drool over this delicious dish, its stylish presentation suggesting a much more expensive restaurant. Two large pieces of lamb, grilled to perfection, crunchy yet creamy polenta, and they bring steamed vegetables on the side at no extra cost.

    With a glass of wine each and tea/coffee, the total bill was only £32. The interior is stylish but comfortable, the food is simple, classic, unfussy French food done well. It's difficult to think of anything they could do better.

  • 5.0 star rating
    29/8/2012
    1 check-in here

    Great food, quaint atmosphere

    Service was causal yet attentive with very friendly staff. I had the sea bass which was absolutely fantastic (crispy skin, yum) and well proportioned. Celery soup for starters was a large serving but absolutely delicious ... Not a drop left in my bowl, I tells ya. My dining partner had the duck breast which looked perfectly cooked. Had no room for dessert but (greedily) checked the menu, there were quite a few selectios available - something I wish to check out in the not too distant future. When Jenny Craig allows me. :D

    The only mini downside was that the place was LOUD - there were two tables of ten or so people at the front and the floor boards and flat ceiling amplified the sound quite a bit :( not sure if the tables at the rear of the venue have this noise quirk.

    Another small note - we were seated halfway into the restaurant and my Orange mobile had no signal/coverage - maybe something to watch out for for those who like to upload Yelp piccies as you stuff your gob :p

  • 5.0 star rating
    12/6/2010

    Perfectly suited to the splendid village feel that permeates through Thistle Street, Cafe Marlayne is surely as close as you can possibly get to a rustic French Bistro in Scotland. Tiny, with tables crammed together, barely legible hand-written menus, and a grumpy, garlic munching chef swigging wine from the bottle in the kitchen. It's all an illusion of course, and this carefree rustic charm is in fact carefully constructed with almost military precision, but in some ways that makes it more impressive.

    I get the impression the menu changes weekly or perhaps daily, but if the duck with apples is still on I can heartily recommend it. The food's not even all that expensive which comes as a pleasant surprise, and you get a basket of bread thrown in for free.

    Only downside, that isn't a fault of the restaurant at all, is that there were some very irritating punters in on our visit. All had South East / Home Counties accents, and talked loudly and obnoxiously in tones that belied the arrogance, humourlessness, and lack of self-awareness that you would expect from them.

    It was quite comical however, when the drunken trustafarians at the table next to us had their credit cards declined. I wouldn't fancy washing the dishes to pay the bill on a busy night like that.

  • 5.0 star rating
    16/3/2011
    1 check-in here

    A new find for me - and what a find it is.  Great French cuisine - at surprisingly affordable prices.   Just had a very tasty meal: a piece of smoked haddock, topped with a poached egg & wilted spinach, served with a side of beans, broccoli and potato dauphinoise.  It was superb.

    They've also got a selection of more café type desserts (key lime pie, coffee creme brûlée, cheese cake, croissant) and a little coffee corner - which I've yet to explore

  • 4.0 star rating
    17/7/2010

    Cafe Marlayne is a great little place to head to for a down to earth, doesn't cost the earth, high quality French meal.

    I've been in here quite a few times for lunch, and it's great if you're looking for something slightly more formal than a cafe, but still really chilled out and relaxed. The premises are miniature, so be aware that just wandering in at peak times could mean you'll be disappointed, so I would recommend just phoning ahead and enquiring about table space. The French menu choices are fairly traditional, with a twist, and the choices change really regularly, so you won't really ever get bored with the menu selection.

    Thistle St does have its fair share of remarkably good restaurants, and Cafe Marlayne is definitely one of the most reliably decent establishments.

  • 5.0 star rating
    12/6/2010

    Tucked away on Thistle Street this cute little restaurant is a great find. An extra star for the friendly staff who squeezed us in at the last minute as we'd forgotten to make dinner reservations. I'd definitely advise booking though as it's always busy and even though it's a modest size it can still accommodate small groups.

    The menu was hand written which I thought added a nice touch and it appears as though the menu changes regularly which keeps things fresh and exciting on every visit. They also had little laminated cards on the table with wine of the month with some information about it which was nice too. Each table was decorated with a vase with flowers and a candle too which added to the cute, intimate atmosphere this place has going on.

    I opted for the seabass which came with creamy mashed potatoes and a white wine dressing, it was delicious. I'm very immature and I know you shouldn't really play with your food but I couldn't resist and the seabass still had his head on so that was just asking for trouble. After gouging out the eyeball I can confirm that it feels and looks exactly like a polystyrene ball... bizarre. After that I tried to locate the brain but no luck but fish aren't exactly the brightest crayons in the box.

    The desserts were very tempting but I was absolutely stuffed after the main course but I can't wait to take a trip back to see what's on offer!

  • 5.0 star rating
    16/7/2010

    Thistle Street is one of my favourite places to dine out in Edinburgh, it's quirky, it's quaint and most importantly, the food is amazing. Cafe Marlayne is no exception to this!

    It's mainly French cuisine and is fine dining at its best, yet has a really nice chilled atmosphere. The prices are staggeringly good for the quality you're getting.
    I had a garlic and something with steak,and it was delicious!! Although I wasn't snogging anyone in a hurry.

    The menus are my favourite, they're all hand-written! Such a nice touch

  • 4.0 star rating
    5/8/2013

    We visited because of the favorable Yelp reviews and were not disappointed.  The ambiance was lovely and even our pickiest eater found something he enjoyed.  Our group enjoyed the lamb, pork, duck and the cheese plate along with a nice bottle of Sancerre.  The sticky toffee pudding was amazing!!!

    • Qype User McNeil…
    • Edinburgh
    • 4 friends
    • 17 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    22/10/2008

    After a trek with relatives through Edinburgh we were looking to stop in somewhere quiet but accommodating, with two elderly diners, and couldn't have came across somewhere which would have fit the bill better than Café Marlayne.

    A teeny capacity of around 30 diners, we were lucky to have timed taking a table for half a dozen so it may be advised to book ahead, although short notice may suffice.

    The first thing of note was the waiter. The single waiter. Bouncing from table to table, in three quarter length shorts, sweat being swiftly absorbed by his curly French bouffant.

    Not that this was a problem for me, or the rest of the party. It was pretty much right up our street, a waiter busting his gut to provide swift and caring service rather than suited to the nines worrying more about how straight his collar was.

    His experience ensured he never neglected a single nod from a diner, remembered exactly what everyone at our table had ordered and all importantly had time to have a nice polite chat with us.

    The handwritten menus fluctuate frequently depending on the interchangeable chefs with it's larger but younger sister restaurant, with the scrawled dozen options and photocopy carbon only adding to the dining experience.

    Personally I was saving myself for an amazing steak the next day at The Tower, so settled for a simple starter as my main. As simple as a mozzarella, pancetta, home-made pesto and balsamic vinegar would sound the attention to balance and quality of ingredients ensured not a drop was left on the sideplate.

    • Qype User sheehl…
    • Edinburgh
    • 9 friends
    • 107 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    16/11/2008

    Been meaning to try this restaurant for ages and went recently with my parents.

    It is a very small and cosy place and I would recommend you book if you want to go there.

    The staff were very friendly and accommodating and the menu was really interesting and inviting. My Mum and Dad travel to france a lot and said that they thought that this was a very authentic place.

    Food was well presented and tasty. I had a fillet steak and it was cooked to perfection.

  • 5.0 star rating
    24/9/2012

    The best dinner we had and on our recent trip to Edinburgh and we had some good ones. This intimate restaurant fills up quickly because everyone there from the out-of-towners like us as well as the locals get to enjoy the food that is prepared with care. Definitely call ahead to get a booking. You'll risk waiting awhile or not getting a table at all just dropping in. They take children which was a plus for us.

  • 5.0 star rating
    9/8/2011

    This small restaurant is a hidden gem! It is the type of restaurant that has very few dishes on it's menu (handwritten, no less!) but all of the dishes are delicious and expertly done. This to me this is the sign of a fine restaurant. Small, romantic, and charming (with a French Cafe verve) it has brought us back to it whenever we visit Edinburgh (so far twice in 5 years) and we will continue to come back because it produces consistently fine food. Make sure to book a table before coming because it fills up quickly. I wish I could transport it back to Los Angeles but that would not be fair to Edinburgh. Bravo and congratulations Edinburgh!

  • 4.0 star rating
    6/7/2009
    First to Review

    Good value and a very good meal.  I had the whole sea bass which was very good and fresh.  In general, this place is busy but was able to find us a table without a reservation.

  • 5.0 star rating
    7/2/2013

    A splendid meal at a fantastic price. If you're in the mood for delightful French cuisine, don't miss this place.

    • Qype User 1grr…
    • Edinburgh
    • 0 friends
    • 6 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    21/4/2010

    Went here on a Friday night with my husband and dad. Definitely need a reservation. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal- with cute hand written menus and small wooden tables. They brought us nice bread and a big jug of water, very appreciated. The food is excellent but pricey. My husband had delicious mussels as a starter- and I don't even like mussels but thought these were great. I had a really tasty crab and avocado salad. With the mains you get a bit bowl of vegetables to share as a table. All very simple and fresh, though nothing super special. Good wine list and tasty desserts as well. The service was a bit surly, but I got the feeling the waitress was also the chef or something as she kept disappearing into the kitchen.

    I would definitely recommend.

    • Qype User lucych…
    • London
    • 46 friends
    • 84 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    3/1/2009

    Cafe Marlayne is one of the best French restaurants I have ever been to in my LIFE. This is the original Thistle St branch and there is another equally fantastic branch just off the Royal Mile on Old Fishmarket Close which is slightly less intimate but fantastic nevertheless. Why am I so crazy for Cafe M? For a start the prices are really reasonable, particularly at lunch when nothing costs more than a tenner and you can eat three courses for about £20 per head. Not bad for somewhere which uses such quality ingredients to create simple, delicious French delights. Then there's the atmosphere- This place is so small that it is always booked up so there is a vibrant buzz to the place, and although the tables are quite close together you never feel like anyone is intruding on your personal space/conversations/flirtations/salacious gossiping about enemies. The service is always fantastic, great wines, I've never had anything to eat here that I haven't wanted another plate of- I'm kind of wishing I could keep it to myself but as I say you DEFINITELY need to book in advance for this one so I guess I'm a bit late if I wanted to have Cafe M as my little secret. Go here. You won't regret it.

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