Sugary drinks for humans, not so good.
For bees though, who do not have to worry about a dentist’s wrath or diabetes, they’re a helpful tonic.
If you see one of these insects ditched on the pavement give it a tiny teaspoon of sugar diluted in water. It’ll stick its proboscis in and, hopefully, will be re-energised so it can make it back to the hive.
This new cafe is providing instant energy for busy Bruntsfielders, with a theme that involves banquettes of bright pollen yellow, and metal honeycomb structures. It is buzzing in a way that its former resident, Cafe Nardini, never really was.
The menu is all-day and worldly cafe food. For starters you can order something from the Small/Sharing Plates section. We went for the loaf tin (£3.50) and I would’ve been happy with just this for lunch. There were three spongy pads of tomato-injected focaccia, paper-thin sheets of a sesame-seed-sprinkled lavosh and doughy triangles of flat bread, all served with a saucer of olive oil (dunk once) and another of crumbly dukkah (second dunk).
For additional dunkage add the dip option (£2.50), which consisted of three mild and pale pastes – a thick hummus, vaguely smoky baba ganoush and some tahini yogurt.
We bumped up our shared carb starter with bits from the Salads section. First, choose your protein – chicken (£10), salmon (£11) or beef (£11), then add a portion of salad, included. Our sriracha plastered chook leg was teamed with a multi-textured pile of roasted squash wedges, red grapes, chard leaves, toasted almonds, mangetout, and a zingy verjuice (an unripe grape juice) and orange dressing.
As you don’t have to stick with one salad as a side, we went for two half portions alongside our lemon and dill plastered poached salmon fillet, which came with a blob of creamy “bergamot aioli”. There was a mulchy forest-floor-y one with sweet miso roasted aubergine, sesame seeds and speckles of quinoa, as well as other titbits; plus a version featuring roast za’atar sprinkled sweet potato, spinach and pomegranate.
I haven’t included ALL the ingredients, because then this review would read like a Real Foods shopping list. However, there were many delicious morsels, all of which would make iceberg lettuce and cherry tomato spin in their graves.
When it came to mains (aka Specials), the best option was probably the Scottish lamb (£10.50).
It consisted of a large vinyl-album-sized flatbread topped with an assemblage including sprigs of dill, stamps of lamb, still glossy from the pan, yet more pomegranate seeds and a sugary molasses dressing.
The shakshuka (£9), served in a cast iron pot, was good too, with the usual mixture of tomato and peppers in a thick blanket of acidic tomato sauce and a whole egg baked into the mix, as well as a sprinkling of hazelnut dukkah, yogurt, a topping of crisped-up and crumbled black pudding and a napkin of flatbread on the side.
Although the chorizo fritters (£9) themselves were a little pancake-y and dry, the additional wet stuff – smashed avocado, a poached egg, chorizo chunks and tomato salsa – made up for it.
For pudding, we went for their signature sundae (£6.50), which was slightly marred by the fact they’d sold out of some of its constituent parts – the fior di latte and sea salted caramel gelato.
They said we could have a substitute from their special ice-cream counter, so we went for the lemon meringue and passionfruit sorbet. Nice enough, but it didn’t really work with crumbled cinder toffee and chocolate sauce.
The strawberry mille feuille (£6.50) was pleasant, with sheets of light puff pastry cemented together by crème patissiere, and a few scatter-y shards of meringue and berry on the side, plus a blob of pistachio gelato.
Good, but, on the way out, we saw their display of winsome cakes, and wished we’d noticed them sooner.
They made me want to take a photo, probably because this place is not so much a restaurant, but an inspirational and Instagrammable lifestyle cafe. Nectar for Bruntsfielders.