Earlier this week my dad and I popped down to Edinburgh and met my brother Donald for lunch. Donald had suggested a Swedish cafe bar called Akva as our lunch spot, a place I hadn’t been to before.
The cafe had two levels and we chose to sit upstairs where it was considerably quieter. The area was surprisingly spacious and the furniture interestingly mismatched. Some of the dining tables had sofas by them as well as upright chairs. A large projector screen hung from the ceiling above the stairs.
After perusing the menu and placing my order I scooted off to the loos where I was delighted by some unusual taps. They were broad and flat and jutted out over trough-like sinks.
Watching the water pour out gave me considerable pleasure.
Back in the cafe our meals were delivered to the table by a cheerful waitress.
Donald had smoked salmon rostis with a dill mayonnaise.
My dad and I both chose the ‘Akva brunch’, which consisted of scrambled egg and spinach on a large slice of granary toast with a grilled tomato in two halves on top of a flat mushroom.
It was all very satisfactory and we slooshed our food down with tea and coffee.
The teacups were a teal colour which seemed comfortingly familiar. I’m not entirely sure why, but I associate this colour with the 1970s and the happy carefree days of my youth.
While my dad and I were still working our way slowly through our brunches Donald ordered a cardamom bun served with Greek yoghurt and honey. I foolishly forgot to photograph it but I did have a little taste and it was a most interesting delicacy.
After saying toodleoo to my brother, we headed off to the car and wondered what we might do next. We had felt too full for sweet treats in Akva, but reckoned a little drive across the city might well inspire our appetites.
We decided on Leith as our destination, partly because it offered free parking and an excellent tearoom, but also to get away from the busyness of the city centre. These days my aging parents find Edinburgh a little too hectic for comfort, and I sympathise because I feel a bit the same way myself.
We found a parking spot right outside a flat I used to live in many moons ago and dashed through the rain to the magnificent Mimi’s Bakehouse which I’ve written about in the past on another blog (here and here, if you’re interested).
In common with Akva, Mimi’s had a choice of seating options, including sofas and armchairs. After selecting tasty treats from the cake display, my dad quickly settled himself in an armchair with a newspaper to await their arrival.
Choosing what to have had been quite an effort because of the wealth of delicious-looking snackerels on offer, but in the end we plumped for a raspberry and white chocolate meringue slice and a fruit scone with butter and jam, washed down with cappuccinos (I had decaf, which came with chocolate on only half of it to distinguish it from the regular one).
I’ve had the good fortune to feast at Mimi’s Bakehouse on a number of occasions and, although the choice of sweet treats can seem bewildering and confusing, in my experience you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.
The raspberry and white chocolate meringue slice was substantial and satisfying: biscuity and melty on the bottom, with a thick layer of white chocolate above scattered with tiny pieces of zingy dried raspberry, all topped off with generous chunks of sweet, light, crunchy meringue. Delicious.
The scone was utterly superb – large, fluffy and extremely easy to swallow. We cut the two treats into little bits and shared them out between us. I buttered half of the scone and buttered and jammed the other half.
The prices were a bit higher than you might expect in an average Scottish cafe, but the quality was evident. I was impressed with the French butter that came with the scone.
Well filled with excellent fare, we trotted back to the car to head for home.
In the past, when I lived near where Mimi’s is now (it wasn’t there in my day), my favoured local haunt was The Vaults, headquarters of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), just along the road. My parents used to come down to Edinburgh and have lunch with me there in the rather splendid surroundings of the members’ lounge, a large, high-ceilinged room with a log fire and leather sofas. Having let my membership lapse we no longer have access to those hallowed surroundings, but Mimi’s offers a highly satisfactory alternative (and cakes, the like of which I never encountered in the SMWS).