A Swift Trip to Edinburgh

26th June 2012

One of the things we’ve always said we do is to keep an eye on the latest trends in the coffee scene. So this involved Angela and I spending a couple of days in Edinburgh, trying to find places to act as an inspiration. We made a list of places we wanted to see based on internet reviews, Google trawling and gut instinct.

The centre of Edinburgh is, of course, quite lovely – as long as you stay away from the Royal Mile and its herds of pipers and tartan shops (what’s the collective noun for pipers?). There are major road works on Princes Street for the new tram system. Now, I was in Edinburgh three years ago and they seem to have made absolutely no progress since then. Such is life….

So we got out of the train and found ourselves in Castello Coffee, a new shop that we have been following non Twitter. Great coffee – if you’ve ever in the Princes Street area, get down to them and try their Flat White. Beautifully foamed milk.

We stayed in the Point Hotel (http://www.pointhoteledinburgh.co.uk) which was great – well-placed and affordable. We didn’t eat there but we did have a glass each of sparkly wine in the afternoon. It’s a good base for seeing the city and has won awards for its design.

Next we went to find a coffee shop that was closed and then had an espresso in a canteen-like coffee house with no soul (no names mentioned ).

Next we found ourselves (after a visit to a cheese shop – very nice) in The Elephant House (http://www.elephanthouse.biz) one of Edinburgh’s oldest and most famous coffee houses and the one where much of the first Harry Potter was written. Great Haggis and Sweet Potato Stromboli (bread stuffed with a filling then baked). Lovely atmosphere.

Then, for our dinner, we went off to Illegal Jacks (http://illegaljacks.co.uk) , a Tex-Mex kind of place but independent and not part of a chain. Great meal if you like that sort of thing (we do). Burritos and tacos and dips. Lovely.

Back to hotel to watch the footy then bed.

Monday – breakfast. Struggled to find any independents open at that time for breakfast. Ended up in a little place that was OK – rubbish coffee but an OK bacon sandwich. So, after wandering around the Princes Street area looking for more independents, we went back to our list. First major disappointment of the trip was a coffee house that looked like it should be good but the woman who was serving was more interested in her roll-up cigarettes than serving. Over extracted espresso – yuk.

Eventually, we found out way to Albert Street and a great little coffee shop called Word of Mouth (http://www.wofmcafe.com). Really friendly, lovely atmosphere and a Croque Monsieur to die for.

Made our way down to Leith and then off to Portobello to see the sea! We also came to The Espy (http://www.the-espy.com/). Great place for food – we had antipasto to share which was out of this world. The homemade lemonade and ginger beer were great as well. The place is divided up into a coffee area and a bar/bistro area. There’s a fantastic feel to the place.

So on our way back we went to the Amusement Arcade where I won £10 and Angela won some sweets. Next time, Las Vegas…

Our last port of call was Spoon – which was more of a restaurant but had an area sectioned off for the coffee drinkers. Nice espresso and Angela had mint and chilli tea and a treacle scone. Could easily have fallen asleep there.

And that was that. Soon, we were back on the train and heading home.

Best coffee:  Flat White from Castello.

Best food:  Tied between that Croque Monsieur from Word of Mouth and the Antipasti from The Espy.

Best thing: Edinburgh is a beautiful city and a great place to wander around.

Worse thing: Why do people in Edinburgh smoke so much – really noticeable as you walk around.

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