City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Nile Valley

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Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
Southside, Edinburgh
Serving times: 
0131 667 8200

Located in Edinburgh University's central campus area, Nile Valley is a rarity among Edinburgh restaurants - it specialises in affordable Sudanese food.

The Reviews


£10 Challenge: Nile Valley

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Monday, August 9, 2010 - 12:15pm

Lunch Menu: Two courses for £5.50

The Southside of Edinburgh holds many small restaurants that it can be all too easy to walk by without a second thought. Yet here is where you’ll find some of the best little food spots in the city, many with an international flavour. Specialising in Sudanese cuisine, Nile Valley is one of the best of these. A tiny space with just four tables (although there is a much larger basement area which is opened for main evening service), it’s situated between South Clerk Street and Edinburgh University, just round the corner from Edinburgh Central Mosque and the ever popular Pear Tree pub.

While Nile Valley turns into a fully-fledged restaurant in the evening, much of the daytime traffic seems to be from passing students and backpackers popping in to munch on one of their fully packed wraps. But instead of eating on the move, it’s better to linger a while to take advantage of the two-course lunch menu at a quite staggering £5.50.

I’m dining alone today (oh, lonesome me) but, having visited Nile Valley several times, I’m well aware there will no sense of discomfort or isolation. The dining space is the size of a small living room, and casually-dressed front-of-house flit in and out of the open kitchens. Reggae grooves and African pop hits pump out of the stereo, the bright walls are covered in paintings and posters, and the overwhelming feeling is of going for a quick meal at a friend’s home.

The selection of starters includes a soup of the day, aubergine fritters, spicy chicken wings and a somewhat incongruous Greek salad. But for my money, it should always be kibdeh to begin with. Lambs liver in a sauce of mushrooms, courgettes and onions with toasted pitta bread and two dipping pots of hot chilli sauce and cooling yoghurt. If you think you don’t like offal, I urge you to try kibdeh. The liver melts in your mouth and the spicy vegetable sauce compliments it perfectly, leading to every last drop being mopped up with the pitta. I’d happily pay £5.50 for this alone.

To such an extent that it’s actually quite disarming when a main course arrives. While the fish of the day or chicken okra both sound (and indeed are) fantastic, I choose the koftas. Best go for either rice or couscous to accompany them (there is also a pitta option) as that’s what is needed to soak up the huge lake of tomato sauce which accompanies the meatballs. Just the two koftas, but they’re big ones and more than sufficient. Made out of minced chicken rolled with rice and herbs, they’re perhaps a little on the dry side but this is balanced out by the sauce and couscous.

And there you have it; two sizeable courses of excellent Sudanese food for £5.50. I can’t believe I actually typed that. Instead of grabbing a sandwich at the nearby Tesco’s, nip round the corner for a great meal at only a few extra pounds. You won’t regret it and it could easily become a worthwhile habit.