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  • Writer's pictureDiana Spencer

Café Marlayne - Vive la France!

Moules marinière

There is much to love about the beautiful country of France, from the art to the literature to the general joie de vivre, but for the serious foodie, and certainly a frugal foodie, the cuisine has to come pretty high on that list.

If you’re looking for a decadent, high-quality lunch at a bargain price, you can guarantee your local French restaurant will deliver, as the vast majority offer lunch menus at a much lower cost than the full à la carte.

Perhaps this is because in France, lunch is the most important meal of the day, and should be savoured and enjoyed – another thing to love! Yet it may also come down to the principle of égalité – everyone should be able to enjoy fine food, whatever their budget. My thoughts exactly.

Most French restaurants in Edinburgh offer a great value lunch, market or pre-theatre menu, including Bite favourites L’escargot bleu, La Petite Folie and La Garrigue. Chez Jules is easiest on the wallet at just £12.90 for three courses, but on this occasion, I choose Café Marlayne. This costs £17.90 for two courses, Wednesday-Saturday, though even the full evening menu is only £27.90 for two courses, so still very reasonable.

Rump Steak with a creamy caper butter

Located on Thistle Street, Café Marlayne is a lovely local eatery that transports you to the side streets of Paris, in that it is very cosy and the food is excellent. It is also raining heavily during our visit, something else I associate with the French capital.

Moules marinière is always my go-to starter, particularly in a French restaurant, and these plump, juicy moules certainly satiate my craving in their classic white wine sauce, however, the Toasted Goat Cheese with figs, beetroot, pumpkin seeds & balsamic dressing also looks delicious.

Coffee Crème Brûlée

For main, no one in our party can see past the Rump Steak, which comes with creamy caper butter, watercress and buttery potatoes, though Chicken Supreme, a cheesy Risotto and Seabream are also available.

When in France, eat dessert. This is extra, of course, but still very reasonable at £6. The addition of coffee to the Crème Brûlée balances the sweetness of this classic choice and makes it the perfect end to the meal.

If you’re enjoying your lunch as the French would, a bottle of house wine costs just £20. Vive la France!

Café Marlayne - 76 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 1EN, 0131 226 2230 -

Opening hours: Sunday, Monday closed, Tuesday dinner from 6 pm, Wednesday till Saturday: Lunch from 12noon, Dinner from 6 pm

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