Monday 18 April 2016

Edinburgh sightseeing: National Museum of Scotland with balcony cafe

On our last visit to Edinburgh, one of the places where I didn't get time to eat with the National Museum of Scotland.  This time we ate there twice.  Sylvia dragged me back because she was besotted with the kid's boxes where she could choose a few small things for her lunch.  I was quite happy to go along because the view is magnificent and the food was lovely.

The museum is centrally situated in Chambers Street just along from Greyfriars Kirk which is at the top of Candlemaker Row leading down to the Grassmarket where we were headed to visit the market.  We were running late and needed to eat so we dropped in.

As you can see it is an imposing Victorian museum and in the early 21st Century the very modern Museum of Scotland, was built adjacent to the former Royal Scottish Museum (on the right of the photo) to focus on Scotland's history.  In 2006 they merged to form the National Museum of Scotland.  To E they are still just the Royal Scottish Museum or the Chambers Street Museum.

While today I am writing about the balcony cafe, there is also a basement Museum Brasserie for more restaurant-style meals and the Tower Restaurant that is very posh.  I was lucky enough to be taken there in 2002.  The food was fantastic and fancy, and the views of the castle were superb.  Maybe one day I will manage to return.

But back to the Balcony Cafe.  Can you see the heads of the people sitting in the cafe on the first floor?  This grand gallery is just magnificent.  Edinburgh is such a grey and gloomy city that it is a surprise that someone thought to design such a light filled space.

I really like this drinking fountain that is on display in the great hall.  But for a drink, we headed to the Balcony Cafe.

The balcony cafe is more about views than fancy food.  However sometimes it is good to have something simple and quick.  Though initally I thought this self service part was all there was and I had chosen a cheese baguette. 

Then I saw there was a toasted sandwich called the Parisian which consisted of brie, spinach and caramelised onions in a ciabatta.  It was lovely though it was forgotten and had E huffing and puffing at the service.  He had a baguette and irn bru.

Sylvia was very pleased to get a kid's box.  She got to choose five things from the kids section.  She had a cheese sandwich (I was pleased it wasn't just hot chips), two packets of pom bear crisps, a Tunnocks caramel wafer bar and an apple juice.  It all came with a box and crayons.  The box required colouring in which is good to while away the hours while slower people eat.

We didn't stay at the museum long unless you include a convoluted route to the toilets.  E was set on getting to the Grassmarket Market.

A few days later Sylvia and I had a day out while E was helping his sister.  We walked to the museum via Sylvia's favourite playground in the Meadows.  I had stopped for a sandwich at Summerhall so I headed for the cake display while Sylvia chose the kid's box again.

My hazelnut and chocolate truffle muffin was very good.  I was particularly impressed that it had an actual rich dense chocolate truffle buried in it.  I also had a cup of tea but cannot remember the flavour.  Sylvia was set on bringing her kid box from the previous visit but one of the staff was very set on her having a new box.  He won.  I busied myself colouring it in while she ate her meal.

Sylvia and then set off to look about.  I am quite fascinated by all the taxidermied animals on display but she didn't like them at all so we didn't stay there long.

The real reason for our visit was the Lego exhibition.  A few Lego structures were on display but what she really wanted was a go at one of the tables with a bucket of lego pieces.  She enjoys her Lego at home and enjoyed this activity.

I helped out but I am no Lego enthusiast.  I was more interested in the exhibitions on the wall of the grand gallery.  It is like a cabinet of curiosities.  We had fun with the interactive display giving information on all sorts of historic and space age items.  Then she was itching to get back to the playground.  Perhaps next visit we will have more time to explore.

Balcony Cafe
National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Tel: 0300 123 6789

Balcony Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. Oh you don't love Lego? I loved it and probably still do although I haven't played with a set in a long time.

  2. The setting here looks fantastic - what a great atmosphere and I love cafes with views. I'm glad Sylvia liked her lunch box selections too!

  3. Oooh that balcony restaurant looks good. Cute vibe.
    The drinking fountain is pretty amazing.
    And that muffin looks so good!!!
    How do you not love lego?? ;p


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