Akva and Mimi’s

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.

Upstairs in Akva

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.

Akva taps

Watching the water pour out gave me considerable pleasure.

Akva tap flowing

Back in the cafe our meals were delivered to the table by a cheerful waitress.

Donald had smoked salmon rostis with a dill mayonnaise.

smoked salmon rostis

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.

Akva brunch

It was all very satisfactory and we slooshed our food down with tea and coffee.

a table for three in Akva
My dad and my brother tucking into their meals. The windows behind the table had a lovely view out onto the Union canal.

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.

teal teacup

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.

Dad in armchair with newspaper at Mimi's

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).

Two cappuccinos, a scone and a raspberry white chocolate meringue slice

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.

raspberry white chocolate meringue slice

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).

Mimi's chandelier
Decorative ceiling moulding and a pink chandelier in Mimi’s Bakehouse.
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18 Comments

  1. What a lovely day with your dad and brother. The lunch choices look excellent. I love smoked salmon! Those taps and sinks are very popular here in Spain. Actually anything Scandinavian is the rage right now. We looked at many new apartments but decided on something that looked more traditionally Spanish in the end.

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    1. We were all pleased with our lunches. I think it’s nice that you opted for a more traditionally Spanish home. Scandinavian design can be very striking but it’s a pity if it becomes too ubiquitous. I’m surprised that those sorts of taps are popular in Spain. I had never seen anything like them in the UK before, but then I live out in the sticks. 🙂

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  2. That chandelier’s quite something, isn’t it? And that sounds like a nice day out. When you say you lived where Mimi’s now is, do you mean as in you can look around when you walk in there and say ‘I remember the couch was here’ or ‘My bed used to be right where that stove is’ type things? Because that could be quite cool. That wasn’t the place where the ceiling fell on you, was it?

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    1. What a memory you have! No, this wasn’t where the ceiling fell in, that was in Aberdeen. The flat I lived in near Mimi’s was across the road in a different building. I have a vague memory that before Mimi’s became Mimi’s it was a restaurant of some kind but it obviously didn’t make much of an impression on me.

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  3. Oh wow, that place looks extraordinary! What beautiful presentation of food. The rostis look delicious. And I remember you writing about Mimi’s before. Aah, the cakes! Lucky that we went out yesterday and I had a ‘chocolate cake fix’ in Dunkeld. Brilliant post as ever, Lorna! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Jo, we all enjoyed our food and it was a treat to have cakes in Mimi’s afterwards. I’m curious to know where in Dunkeld you had your chocolate cake. Palmerston’s? Spill the beans? Howie’s Bistro? Or am I missing somewhere marvellous?

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  4. I’m having an envious Pavlovian reaction to this post. Yesterday we went to one of the Live from the MET opera broadcasts in the cinema. I had had a very small lunch and was looking forward to a cuppa and a little something in the Picturehouse’s cheery café beforehand. The cuppa was forthcoming… but they have stopped offering all cakes. So we had to make do with our healthy home-made roll and apple.

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  5. Great to see you and your family out and about. I hope the other Delightful Assistant was enjoying herself that day. I am curious to know where you find to park in Leith, it wouldn’t occur to me that it could be a less hectic place to go in Edinburgh. As usual, I am now very hungry after reading your post and looking at your photos. Your Dad is looking good!

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    1. Thanks, Christine. Yes indeed, my mum was in Fort William enjoying herself with my sister that day. I can usually find a space in Parliament Street or Henderson Street, near the Shore. I often wonder how long it’ll be before parking meters appear, but thankfully so far so good.

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