It’s a bit strange to anthropomorphize a restaurant, but I’m going for it anyway.
This one is a Dutch man. We’ll call him Mr Groenhout.
As his dating profile would say, he’s fifty-something, a cat owner, warm and stylish, lives in Edinburgh’s New Town, GSOH, wordly but totally immune to trends.
He’s a good guy. Dependable. I know him pretty well. After all, I’ve been to this cafe before, and it always delivers.
It opened during lockdown, and is owned by Jen Nelson. She worked for over a decade managing this place’s original Amsterdam branches, with one on the Singel canal, which opened in 1988, and the other 19-year-old venue on Keizersgracht.
They’ve transplanted all their favourite dishes to Edinburgh’s Frederick Street, along with an interior that has lots of Dutch touches like a windmill mural and a cuckoo clock, yet doesn’t feel contrived.
They do breakfast, brunch and lunch, with every dish served all day. So, there will be no tantrums when you find out you can’t get eggs Benny at 3pm.
I was very drawn to the sugar fest that is their Banana Bread Tumble (£12.50), which features the billed ingredient along with white chocolate mascarpone, berries, almonds, maple syrup and other sweet stuff. Next time.
Instead, I tried one of their classics - The Greenwoods Cajun Melt (£12.95). This turned out to be a monolithic slab of food, with a fat wad of their signature soda bread - not the ubiquitous a-la-mode sourdough - as its foundation. Then there was a thicket of rocket, and a layer of chicken breast - perma-tanned with the mild spices and cupped by a couple of saucers of smoked bacon, then a thick blanket of melted cheese. There was also some crunchy coleslaw (they don’t say ‘slaw' on the menu, thank goodness) in there, and a fan of halved avocado.
My oesophagus was a canal, and this lunch was a widebeam. I hoped there wouldn’t be some kind of Suez-style blockage, but I managed to get through about two thirds of this huge portion, which I think deserved a badge, round of applause or certificate.
I also tried a Kilner jar of passionfruit and vanilla cooler (£4), which was a zingy and fruity bright orange pep, complete with a cheerily striped straw, as was the fiery ginger beer (£4), with its injection of lime. These are ‘homemade’, and they definitely want you to know it. In fact, this word appears 20 times across the food and drink menu. It’s okay, I believe you, people.
We also tried The Breakfast Stack Pancakes (£12.95). Not our first rodeo. My other half had experienced some sort of out-of-body transcendental astral projection episode last time he had these. He’s dreamt of them ever since, as if he was a teenage boy who’d just watched Weird Science and they were Kelly LeBrock.
I think it was something to do with the butter on a stick that comes with this offering. He laminated the three fat pancakes, top and bottom, as if he was washing a stack of dishes, then poured a little maple syrup into the frothy melted broth. Happy days. Everything else on the plate was good too - the dinky hash brown, topped with a blob of sour cream and spring onions, runny centred poached eggs, half a grilled tomato and a herby sausage.
The portions are decent here, so you’re unlikely to need much more.
However, we had a couple of very good flat whites (£2.70). We also took away a slice of their signature Dutch appeltaart with whipped cream (£4.95) and the orange and matcha tea loaf (£3.50) that was under a glass cloche on the cake counter that day.
Their classic tart is a beautiful thing, with loads of cinnamon among the stewed fruit and a crusty crisscrossed lid of mahogany pastry, and the other cake was a buttery yellow square of sponge that was topped with sticky bits of orange.
Anyway, I have to confess that I’m a little bit in love with Mr Groenhout.
He’s not exciting, or hip, but he has a certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be found anywhere else in the capital.
Most of all, he’s just a very pleasant and wholesome guy.
61 Frederick Street, Edinburgh (0131 220 6799, www.greenwoods.eu)
Places to try Nearby
We were sad when The Honours closed, but the high-end Italian restaurant that’s filled its slot is also worth a visit. They do a lunch menu at three courses for £25, with dishes including fillet of sea bream with artichoke, Datterino tomatoes and courgette. Yes please to the Amalfi lemon tart for pudding.
Dishes at this restaurant, which offers a South-American-influenced menu, include the cheek and crispy fillet of beef, mole rojo and padron peppers. They also do Sunday lunch and have an aperitivo time offer of two small plates and a drink for £18 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Urban Angel, 121 Hanover Street, Edinburgh (0131 225 6215, www.urban-angel.co.uk)
It feels like Urban Angel has been at this spot forever. They’re still serving their popular brunches, including the breakfast hash with roast potato, black pudding, bacon, mozzarella and an egg.