Our free walking tour guide in Edinburgh had one real suggestion for places to eat in the city – Mary’s Milk Bar. Oh he talked about haggis at one pub or another and a handful of cafes as well, but Mary’s was the only place he truly raved about. He couldn’t stop talking about the goat’s cheese and fig ice-cream he’d had there recently, as well as their hot chocolate which is made from actual melted chocolate, rather than chocolate powder.
That was enough of a recommendation for me, and K and I promptly headed to Mary’s Milk Bar after the tour for a treat. That was our first trip to Mary’s anyway – we ended up going back two more times during our stay in Edinburgh because we enjoyed it so much! If that isn’t enough proof of how good their offerings are, I don’t know what is.
On our first visit, K decided to choose one of their sorbets so as not to disturb his lactose intolerance. Luckily they offer a handful of dairy-free sorbets alongside their ice-creams (the range changes every day), and they had a Marsala Pear Sorbet on offer. This was a wonderfully refreshing sorbet, with a strong, ripe pear flavour. Delicious.
I couldn’t go past the Hot Chocolate Float and I chose a scoop of seasonal Hot Cross Bun ice-cream to go with my hot chocolate. Both were perfect – rich and creamy dark hot chocolate that wasn’t too sweet, and a beautifully cinnamon-y spiced ice-cream that was just the absolute embodiment of Eastertime.
On our second visit, K chose a hot chocolate to go and I chose a scoop of the Goat’s Cheese and Honey ice-cream after our guide’s recommendation of the goat’s cheese and fig combination. While I didn’t try the fig version, I think that it would be hard to beat the plainer version of the goat’s cheese and honey. Both the cheese and honey accents were very subtle, which made each hint of it on the palate that much more noticeable and enjoyable. Sometimes, simple is best.
On our third visit, we took the opportunity to sit down and truly linger over a hot drink each and a sweet treat to share. Everything at Mary’s screams retro – so drinks are served in coloured glass crockery and on a little tin serving tray a la the 1970s.
The sweet treat we shared was a scoop of Peanut Butter ice-cream. I think that the only thing that could have improved this ice-cream was a bit of texture – some actual peanut pieces throughout the mix would have made it far better than it was…which was of course, still extremely enjoyable.
K had another Hot Chocolate – he claims that Mary’s makes one of the best hot chocolates he’s ever tasted. It’s not quite on the same level as the Frederic Blondeel hot chocolate we had in Belgium, but it hits all the right notes – dark rich chocolate, incredibly creamy, and just sweet enough without being too sweet.
I was tempted to try their Hot Chocolate Pot, described to me by the staff as being dairy-free pure hot chocolate. Without the creamy milk to dilute the chocolate, it was intensely rich and dark – almost gritty in its chocolatey goodness. This is one for those with an intense sweet tooth!
Mary’s Milk Bar is a wonderful retro dessert stop for any visitor to Edinburgh, offering a great range of ice-creams, sorbets, and hot chocolates. One of the best hot chocolates I’ve had, and their ever-changing ice-cream range means that you could visit Mary’s every day for two weeks and still have a different ice-cream flavour with each visit. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Mary’s Milk Bar is located at 19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh Scotland.