The Bon Vivant is perfect for a first date, with a fantastic drinks selection and inventive cocktail menu over which to break the ice and the availability of £1.50 bites (haggis bonbons, deep-fried brie with beetroot purée, calamari, corn on the cob with chilli butter) should you need to line your stomach without committing to the full sit-down dinner experience. There's also an accessibly priced Champagne menu should things head in that direction. Inviting and stylish without trying to be, an evening here will confirm for your date your excellent taste (should it be in any doubt – after all, you did ask them out).
At Brass Monkey (you want the one on Drummond Street, not the one on Leith Walk) you'll find a proper bar, all gleaming wood and glinting bottles, but with a bonus Bedouin tent vibe through the back. The seating set-up of a room full of raised beds piled high with cushions and rugs will throw you together nicely, positively encouraging getting cosy and lulling you into lounging and lingering. As such it's possibly a bit full-on for a first date but perfect for a second or third – the movie posters plastering the walls provide a talking point too. As a bonus, the drinks aren't expensive either, so you can treat your date without breaking the bank.
The communal tables at The Gardener's Cottage will take the edge off dates when it's early days – there's less pressure to feel that whoever is sitting opposite you is the only person in the world when there are ten others round the same table. Plus the six-course set menu of seasonal produce pulled from the garden outside is always a conversation starter, not to mention delicious – a recent example included scallops, salt crust beetroot, partridge with bread sauce, damson and bramble sorbet and a chocolate and pumpkin mille feuille. The simple setting is undeniably romantic too – an actual gardener's cottage in Royal Terrace Gardens at the foot of Calton Hill, designed by William Playfair in 1836.
Craft beer bores may obsess over the beautifully curated (and on-site created) selection at The Hanging Bat (making it ideal if you're dating one) but the real draw here when it comes to a romantic rendez vous is the candlelight. The rough stone and reclaimed wood interior is quirky and cosy and replete with nooks, crannies and couches. It's also a stone's throw from Edinburgh's cinema strip (The Cameo, The Filmhouse and The Odeon are all across the street) should you have opted for the classic movie and drinks combo.
Dinner at The Witchery might be laying it on a bit thick for a first date but if you have (or are hoping to have) something to celebrate or you just want to sweep someone off their feet, it can't be beat. Mind-blowingly opulent – stuffed to bursting with weighty velvet, crimson leather, eagles carved from stone, twinkling crystal and crisp white linen, brocade and extravagant blooms, all gilded in candlelight – the unadulterated indulgence it inspires will practically transport you to another plane. And when dinner is over well hey, would you look at that? There you are, smack bang in the middle of Gothic romantic vibes central at the top of the Royal Mile, the Castle looming over you and the views from the esplanade just begging to be taken in. Or there are rooms upstairs from the restaurant. Just sayin.