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Restaurant Review: Argyle Place, Edinburgh

This space is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, cake and coffee

Published: July 24, 2021
Categories:
Food: 
8/10
Ambience: 
9/10

You have to celebrate the small glories.

My husband christened the downstairs toilets in this place.

“Oh hi, these haven’t opened yet, but go ahead,” said the guy who was in there, checking the finish, fixtures and fittings.

I hope they put a plaque up, just above the urinals, or maybe my other half can cut the yellow ribbon (not an euphemism), when this cafe has finished the final tweaks. The prosaically titled Argyle Place did have a very soft opening last year. There was a bit of takeaway, and now you can book tables in the rather cool-looking room.

It has a very soothing and Zen-like vibe inside, like a spa or a library. I felt as happy as a woodlouse crawling under my favourite stone.

We were by the window, with its white marble desk of a table. The menu was stuck on the window in front of us, and we enjoyed watching the decision-making gurns of passers-by. All the micro-movements in a face when someone is imagining how a sandwich tastes.

According to the waiter, this place is owned by the people behind Edinburgh coffee bar, The Counter, and there’s a Mr Eoin roastery in progress downstairs.

We had a couple of mellow and velvety flat whites (£2.85 each), made from Costa Rican beans.

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There was also a (natural) sugar pep from our favourite local pop makers, Bon Accord, thanks to one of their Bona Colas (£2.20) and another of Pink Grapefruit (£2.20).

The food list is well curated, with just a few appealing breakfast, brunch and lunch options.

I appreciated that the waitress did the opposite of up-selling, when she told me that Sandwich One (£9) didn’t need an additional Lunch Option 3 salad (£7), since it came with one already. She must have thought our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. She was right. I’m like a Tarsier monkey.

My piece consisted of a baguette that had pointy ends like a waxed moustache, or a weaving shuttle. It was one of these hefty beasts that’s impossible to lift to your mouth, without all the cargo falling out, so I picked at the filling of pesto chicken, chunks of charred corn on the cob and tomato salsa, with red onion threaded through. It was very satisfying. I could go plough a field after eating it, though I’ll have to make do with a shuffle through the Meadows.

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As we’d been warned, this came with a petite mayo-clad potato salad, with capers and green beans, but ALSO a bigger bonus salad, featuring an elegant blend of picked daikon, carrot, beetroot and some lovely greenery. However, it was neglected in favour of the other main course version we’d ordered. It showcased my favourite salad ingredients - cheese and nuts. There were loads of Parmigiano Reggiano shavings, tons of walnuts and pumpkin seeds, kayaks of halved poached pear and a sweet salty varnish of soy and balsamic vinaigrette. Best I’ve had since my actual salad days.

My dining partner also had a zingy mini mixture of golden beetroot, pomegranate seeds and seaweed alongside his corned beef hash, peppers, red onion and poached egg (£7). Although this option was great, it wasn’t like any corned beef hash we’ve ever seen.

Instead of the meaty hotch-potch you might expect, there were slices of non-corned beef, halved new potatoes, peppers, onions and a sort of five-spice-y dressing. And there was a perfect poached egg on top, as well as a sort of sail of blistered tomato skin. Lovely, though don’t order this if you’re craving something less sophisticated.

There’s a small selection of cakes available to view under the glass counter.

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Though the chocolate-dipped palmeras looked very tempting, I went for the cinnamon bun (£3.20), which was the size of a boulder, and had its Escher-esque whirls and maze-like crevices powdered with loads of cinnamon. However, it was pretty heavy and bready. I cut it into four pieces and ate each at separate sittings. The slice of raspberry and blueberry frangipane (£3.20) was definitely the best, with a beautifully rich, buttery and granular yellow centre that was splotched and stained with berries, like flies splattered on a windscreen.

This is a gorgeous new cafe, and I’m also keen to sample the oat porridge with gooseberry and fennel seed jam, dried strawberries, toasted hazelnuts and yoghurt, which is like my fantasy breakfast.

And, just in case they ask, my other half is always available to cut the yellow ribbon.

25-28 Argyle Place

Edinburgh

(www.argyleplace.co.uk)

Places to try Nearby

Detour Espresso, 39 Argyle Place, Edinburgh (www.detourespresso.co.uk)

In common with Argyle Place, this venue does cinnamon buns, as well as rocky roads, brownies and other crowd-pleasing cakes. It also has a pleasantly relaxed vibe, with artwork (and a road bike) on the walls.

Sugar Daddy’s, 8 Roseneath Street, Edinburgh (www.youneedcake.co.uk)

Check out this gluten-free bakery’s window, as it’s always full of inventive and colourful no-holds-barred sugar fests. There’s millionaire’s cupcakes, cookie sandwiches, cake jars, mint choc chip brownies and all kinds of Willy Wonka-esque gateaux.

Victor Hugo Deli, 29 Melville Terrace, Edinburgh (0131 667 1827, www.victorhugodeli.com)

Good old Victor Hugo is always there for us when all we want is a thick pastrami sandwich, quiche, baguette or a milky coffee.AssigneesNo assignees defined for the content

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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