Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunch in Edinburgh:

Where: Spoon Café Bistro

6a Nicholson Street


Cost: £30 based on a 2-course meal for 2 including soft drinks.

Why? For lazy lunches, for dreams of childhoods past.

Once I visited the fair city of Edinburgh on university related business. It was spring with hints of summer. In Kenyan terms this means it was fucking cold! Edinbugh is very pretty place, in fact so pretty that the UN named the whole city a world heritage site. I stayed at the George Hotel on George Street. But more on that later. The previous night I had eaten supper at Edinburgh famous eatery Fisher down by the old wharf turned regentrified fort of yuppiedom. Our gracious host Morena (“it Celtic!” she said.) pointed me in the direction of Spoon when I told her I needed a place to lunch near the university. She scribbled down the address and said, “you’ll love it”. And I did.

Spoon is right opposite the University of Edinburgh Law Faculty. It’s a grand old building. Fitting I think for Scotland’s pinnacle of jurisprudence. The university is easy to find, flag down a cab and yell “to the university!” Spoon isn’t.

The sign is small, once the building is found push open the glass doors, climb up a flight of stairs. Down a corridor and finally emerge into the heavenly space that is spoon. Light bathed the room, not to big not o small. The décor is kitschy retro in the most delightful way. The tables and chairs are mismatched, some big some small. Some are for kids. There are wooden benches and painted chairs. The open restaurant is punctuated by screens covered in old sheet music (from The Sound of Music) there’s a bookshelf (I picture Lewis Carol and C.S. Lewis and Enid Blyton). One gets the familiar feeling of being back in ones childhood home. Music filters down form somewhere –Mama Cass Elliot-, I recall the 60s and I think, “let the sunshine in!” and it does.

The menu is simple; an A4 sheet fits all three courses. Specials are on the board. I have the tomato and aubergine soup to start, skirt steak with braised onions and mash potatoes for my main. The soup is heavenly. It arrives hot with crusts of bread and a slab of butter. The veg is roughly chopped, this soup isn’t drunk; it’s eaten, bitten and chewed into submission. On my palette is sweet fragrant basil, garlic. Italy. Almost as an afterthought a kick of spice. The best soup I’ve eaten ever.

Promptly after comes the steak gently plopped on top of a hillock of creamy mash spotted with chopped spring onions. On top of the steak, a tangle of sweet sweet onions braised in red wine, they almost melt in my mouth. A wolf it down, forgetting I have company. The outside world rushes by, all I see is mismatched flatware, bare white walls and ethereal light beaming from on high. I pause to flush down my appletiser and I think to myself “what a wonderful world.”

And it is. It really is.


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