Face down in syrup isn’t the worst way to go.
When I reviewed this place on its opening three years ago, I mentioned the prevailing rescue advice of administering sugar in water to tired bees, so they have the energy to fly.
Since then, an expert told me it’s more effective to hold grounded bumbles in your cupped hands and gently blow on them. The warmth helps them recover, then you can cast them into the sky, like Kes.
Unfortunately, when I attempted this, bumbling Bernice threatened me with her hypodermic, as if she was Annie Wilkes in Misery, and I was one step away from being hobbled. She was sadly abandoned to linger on the dusty pavement.
In search of a human-friendly energy boost, I visited Bruntsfield’s Honeycomb & Co.
Now open daily, 9:30am-4:30pm, it’s temporarily remodelled its business under lockdown. Customers should order online at least 48 hours in advance for collection, or choose from their To Go selection in situ.
As well as individual portions of some things, and online multibuys of bakes, you’ll find takeaway coffee and groceries, like flour, booze and honey from The Scottish Bee Company.
It’s quite a small venue and we had imaginings of an irritable queue building up while we havered, so we pre-ordered our savouries and rocked up at our allocated time. When it’s your turn, they buzz you (well, it’s more of a ding dong).
We chose a couple of cakes from the display behind a plexiglass screen and collected our white paper bags.
It’s strange how a 15 minute walk home can feel interminable when there are tasty smells emanating from your precious cargo. Takeaway can be cruel.
The unpacking took seconds, though there were some things to heat up, like a clutch of chunky tiger prawns (£4). These fishy grenades were hot with chipotle chilli and confit garlic. I pulled the imaginary pin, and lobbed them into my mouth.
The single pan-fried Scottish salmon fillet (£4) also needed a few minutes of oven time. It was dotted by a harissa, rose and sultana tapenade, for very mild heat, but also a floral sweetness. If that was for those who are wussy about spice, the aerated and bouncy quintet of lamb koftas (£3.50) suited a steelier constitution. These meaty comets spread their heated tails down my oesophagus.
We’d mixed up these proteins, deli-style, along with two salads. The family (£8.50) size must be a Cheaper by the Dozen affair, as our (£4.50) portions were big enough for both of us.
Their watermelon one consisted of dehydration quashing wedges of this fruit with salty kalamata olives and crumbled feta, as well as ellipses of preserved lemon and an opaque and creamy balsamic dressing.
The rice noodles were equally summer-y, thanks to halves of cucumber and green apple, red chilli and a poppy seed polkadot, all sloshed with a light and zingy pickled onion and ginger dressing.
We’d underestimated the sizes of the individual portions. That’s my excuse for also ending up with four (the minimum amount, if you’re pre-ordering) cat’s-head-sized Isle of Mull cheddar, mustard and herb scones for £6. I’m no Vorderman, but that must be less than a couple of quid each. Daylight muggery for such cheesy wondrousness.
We also supplemented our lunch with asparagus, pea and feta tartlets (£12 for four). These rocket-thatched discs were not canapés either, but starter-sized offerings, with a buttery pastry, and the billed ingredients all suspended in an eggy base.
Our final box contained their honey and lemon bundt (£4) – a classic here.
Its sunshiney ridged mound of sponge was lemon saturated, and topped by a thick clot of white chocolate ganache and a “honeycomb shard” like a hunk of moon rock. And I loved the cube of espresso and walnut cake (£3.25), usually the ascetic choice but this time pimped up with a rich mascarpone icing.
Much happiness. Bernice, though not a willing participant in my syrup or cupping therapies, would love it here. ■
1 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh (0131-228 4641, Honeycomb & Co)