Shopping for bread was my lockdown therapy.
The exercise would get my blood pumping, while the smell of baking was equivalent to a waft of essential oils. I’d get a little bit of human interaction, even if it just involved mumbling and pointing, and there would be the thrill of a purchase without having to make space in my overflowing wardrobe or chockablock Edinburgh press.
I’d take home a baguette, fougasse or pain au cereale that would be eaten by mid-afternoon. On Friday, I might ask them to add an almond croissant.
I’ve recently reduced the frequency of this habit, since the weight round my hips was making me feel like the donkey in Buckaroo.
However, I still recommend psychological healing through the procurement of baked goods.
It’s apt then that this place’s first cafe is in the former premises of Essential Therapy on Broughton Street.
They’ve got a small shop area, with loaves and pastries at the front, then another counter, but with sandwiches, quiches, salads, cakes and patisserie.
(They’re quite traditional in their sweet creations. You’ll definitely find brownies, Victoria Sponges and scones, though you’re less likely to get brookies and Biscoff-injected doughnuts). There’s also an all-day sit-in menu, which has been designed to showcase their bakes. with breakfast and brunch on one side, and lunch and light bites on the other.
We took the biggest curved booth at the back of the gallery-white space, which is dotted with artwork, including illustrations of the Morningside shop.
We’d barely sat down, and one badly behaved person in my party said, “I want sausages”, which ruled them out from being invited again.
It’s a sausage/haggis/black pudding free kind of brunch, with a very streamlined menu that suggests a macaron-sized kitchen.
I went for the house pancakes (£8.75), “Ohio farm style”. The combination of a stack of four wholesome-tasting pancakes, along with a pot of strawberry jam and thick cut bacon didn’t blow my mind, but it could be an acquired taste, like chipolatas dipped in chocolate.
It did press those salty sweet buttons, but didn’t make me wonder oh-why-oh-don’t-I-live-in-Ohio?
We preferred the tried and tested duo of maple syrup, with more of that fatty “outdoor reared bacon”, which came as part of the French toast (£7.50) option. We were always going to choose that dish. I’d already been into this cafe twice to order their version that’s topped with spiced plum compote.
This is less oeuf heavy than your average eggy bread, more buttery and wet, and they put a dollop of whipped cream on the side, as well as a handful of blueberries and strawberries. It’s probably the menu’s hero offering, since they make it with their sturdy Covenanters sourdough. As their website says, this was “inspired by the type of ‘white’ loaf that our ancestors would have enjoyed 200 years ago”. (I would swap modern medicine for a batch of their ancient loaves).
One of the small people tried the soup of the day (£4.50), which turned out to be a healthy vegetable medley, with carrot as the main ingredient and a couple of triangles of sourdough toast on the side, and, for the grumpy fusspot of our party, there was a shammy-like soft floury bap filled with more of that bacon (£3.50).
This cafe’s take on eggs Benedict (£10.95) is made with one of their feathery light muffins, and we went for the version that was topped with poached eggs, and sheets of gravlax. It did all the things this dish is supposed to do, with paprika-dusted Hollandaise sauce that clung, like Ice Magic, to the top of those runny yolked eggs, and an accompaniment of rocket and tomato salad.
There were also a couple of cakes - something rectangular, pretty and light (£3.80), which featured a thin layer of sponge, then chocolate mousse under a chocolate lid - and a tart and gummy lemon and blueberry cheesecake (£3.80).
We’re fussy about coffee, and weren't blown away by the flat whites (£2.95 each).
Still, Bakery Andante is a few doors along from Artisan Roast, for those who want their carb slump heart rate to be a bit more allegro.
It’s a necessity, since a caffeine infusion should always follow successful bread therapy.
(Oh, and I hope it’s not too late but I was only joking about chocolate with sausages).
49 Broughton Street
(0131 466 2901, www.bakeryandante.co.uk)
How much? Lunch for two adults and two children, excluding drinks, £42.80
Place to try Nearby
They do reliably great coffee at this little cafe, where you can also get caramel brownies, takeaway beans, or various types of hot chocolate, including their lavender variety.
There’s always something on the menu outside that tempts us into this wine bar and restaurant, which has a sister venue in Stockbridge. At the moment it would be their slow cooked pork belly, pear and leek, samosa and apple jus.
Shinsen Sushi, 43 Broughton Street, Edinburgh (www.shinsen.co.uk)
This place opened last year, and has been offering its sushi to take away, but now there’s space to sit in too. They also do bubble tea, strawberry cheesecake mochi, and vegan sushi sets.