Food & Drink: Bites: Cheap Eats In Edinburgh

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Eating in Edinburgh doesn't have to break the bank; we pick places where bargain doesn't mean basement. Opening times apply only while the festival lasts.

La Cuisine d'Odile at The French Institute, 13 Randolph Crescent (0131- 225 5685). Mon-Sat lunch.

Odile's isn't on the main route for audiences, but book for lunch or the West-End regulars will get there first. Seasonal produce dictates what Odile cooks in the tiny kitchen of her small restaurant. Swiss chard tart for starters, then mixed game stew, say. Finish with a fruit tart or something chocolatey. Three courses are only pounds 6.95. A main course alone is pounds 4.95.

Fruitmarket Cafe, Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street (0131-226 1843). Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm.

An established arty venue that remains on its mettle, and cool with it. Pass the daytime - measured by a projected clock on the wall - over food from a simple menu that spreads itself equally around a United Nations of favourites: bruschetta, sushi, steak sandwich, chilli and chips, tagliatelle, Toulouse spicy sausage and mash - none much more than pounds 5. Service is friendly.

Cafe Hub, Edinburgh's Festival Centre, Castlehill (0131-473 2067). Daily 8am-1am.

The cafe shares the ground floor of the converted church with the box office in the festival's new HQ. Andrew Radford and co, whose Blue is another hub of hip cafe society, run this bright fuelling point. Drinks and food from an simple, flexible, appetising menu are served at tables inside, or on an outdoor terrace. Have steak with potato scones and roast shallots (pounds 7.70) for breakfast if you insist, croissants last thing at night. Or soup, sandwiches,and salads (for either side of pounds 5) at any time in between. Book, or risk queuing at peak times.

Kalpna, 2-3 St Patrick Square (0131-667 9890). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun dinner.

All-vegetarian cooking draws on Gujarati and South Indian traditions. Although the palette of ingredients is limited, skilled spicing creates definition between dishes, and even pleases meat-eaters. A thali, a variety of little pots on a tray, makes an easy-to-order, well-balanced and satisfying meal for pounds 10-pounds 13.

Mussel Inn, 61-65 Rose Street (0131-225 5979). Daily noon-10pm.

Seafood and eat it - with very little to spoil it in between. Set up by Scottish seafood farmers, this is recommended for brilliantly fresh fish, served without frills and for great prices. Mussels come many ways, so do scallops. Look out for langoustine, lobster and a fish of the day. Seafood chowder's almost a meal in itself. Less than pounds 15 for food. Bookings aren't taken for eating after 7pm; seats outside ease pressure indoors.

Valvona & Crolla Caffe Bar,

19 Elm Row (0131-556 6066). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner.

Behind what's possibly the best Italian deli in Britain, this serves probably the best coffee in the city. Bread is baked here. Other ingredients come direct from Italy. Antipasto is pounds 8.95 for two people; there's pizza, frittata and pasta for pounds 6-pounds 8. Save space for chocolate cake or lemon tart (made with unwaxed lemons from Amalfi). Lunch can be booked except on Saturday. For the festival it's also serving dinner - a la carte for pounds 25- pounds 30. Choose a bottle from the amazing collection of Italian wines and pay the shop price plus pounds 3 corkage.

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