Loudons Cafe & Bakery



Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

Loudons has an enviable reputation around Edinburgh and it’s very easy to see why. From the spacious, scrupulously clean interior to the charming, affable staff and the prompt and efficient service, this place quite simply ticks all the boxes – so when we and our guests decide to step out for a late breakfast, it seems the obvious place to head for. After all, it’s just a quick stroll away. The only slightly strange thing is that we haven’t got around to trying it before now.

We start by ordering coffee and we’re asked would we care to try Ruli Masasa, a new Rwandan blend they’re trialling? Yes, as it happens, we would – and very tasty it proves to be. As we sip, contentedly, we peruse the menu and it quickly becomes clear, that the only major problem is going to be which of the many delights on offer we’re actually going to choose. After some deliberation, Susan orders the American style pancakes, which arrive promptly and prove to be thick and satisfying, layered with bacon and baked banana (shouldn’t work, but trust me, it does!).  The impressive stack of pancakes is topped with maple syrup, icing sugar and cocoa powder. If you have a sweet tooth, this is definitely the one for you.

I’m in the mood for something more savoury so I choose an offering called the ‘Hoots Mon’, which, despite that awful name, is just wonderful. It comprises an English muffin, halved and liberally layered with haggis, black pudding and bacon, then topped with two poached eggs and a tangy tomato ketchup chutney. It is quite simply delightful, the bacon thick and crispy, the eggs poached to perfection, so that when you prod them with a knife, a gloopy yellow yoke gushes over the lower layers. Oh, yes please! Needless to say, I make very short work of eating it.

One of our companions orders French toast, which is served with bacon and maple syrup and looks very nice indeed. The fourth, a person of more modest appetite, plumps for a traditional fresh scone served with butter and jam, and pronounces it excellent. Pretty soon, all four plates are clean and we’re very happy punters.

OK, so maybe Loudons isn’t  the cheapest cafe you’ll find around the city (most dishes are around the £10 mark) but, for a pleasant brunch, you’d be hard put to better it and, since I can’t find a single thing to fault in the order, it must surely receive the maximum number of stars. What about that name, ‘Hoots Mon’? Should I deduct points for that? No, because you could call it ‘desiccated wombat’ and it would still taste incredible. Full marks it is, then.

For those of you contemplating an exhausting day of touring around the many festival venues, this is the logical place to refuel. And for those of you who’ve slept in, I hear they do excellent lunches too.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

Akva Smorgasbord


Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

We’re in the mood for lunch out and we’ve been promising ourselves we’ll try this smorgasbord for a while. Akva is a big, spacious, Swedish-style bar with a relaxed and friendly buzz about it. It’s pleasantly located in Fountainbridge at the top of the Union Canal, one of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures. They do a conventional menu, which we’ve sampled before, but they also offer a daily lunchtime buffet.

It’s all reassuringly simple. When you choose to ‘go smorgasbord’ you’re issued with a decently sized plate and invited to fill it from the buffet for a very reasonable £7.50. If you’re an individual with a particularly hearty appetite, another fiver will allow you to return for even more and the great thing is, you don’t have to decide straight away. (Just as well as it turns out, because even we have to admit that one plate is plenty even for seasoned diners like us).

It would take forever to list everything that’s on offer today, but the array includes smoked trout, smoked salmon, freshly sliced ham, smoked cheese and a multitude of brightly coloured salads , grilled vegetables and assorted pickles. In addition to this, there are two hot dishes – today’s choice is veggie sausage casserole and a three bean chilli, both with accompanying hot rice. There’s also a selection of breads to choose from (the black bread is particularly good). When you’re presented with such a cornucopia of delights to select from, you’ll find yourself trying a little bit of everything and that’s no bad thing, because it means that every forkful you taste is different. Though we try hard to pace ourselves we manage to devour everything on our plates in record time and feel pleasantly full, rather than stuffed.

This is a refreshingly different kind of lunch, a great choice if you’re meeting up with friends and family (particularly those hard-to-please veggie ones) and when you’re finished, you can always nip upstairs and enjoy the free-to-use ping pong table, which in my book is a great addition to any bar – or, weather allowing, why not try a walk along the canal where you can happily work of some of those calories?

Next time you’re stuck for lunch, you know where to go.

4 stars

Philip Caveney





Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

To be honest, I’d intended to go somewhere else entirely. (Kampung Ali, a low priced Malaysian joint on the road into Fountainbridge, really worth checking out) – but as luck would have it, the night I called it was booked out for a ‘musical evening’ and no food was being served. Rats!

Then I remembered Burger, just a bit further up the same road, a place which (let’s face it) has a name that gives you a fairly good intimation of what you might expect to find on the menu. And I thought, hey,  why not give it a shot?

It’s a utilitarian kind of joint, plain furnishings, no frills, but it’s clean and bright and friendly. You order at the counter, you’re given a little gadget which flashes when your food is ready (they are very quick here) and you collect the food yourself. The meal is served on a tin tray and the restaurant prides itself on being environmentally friendly. Even the cutlery is made from biodegradable corn starch. Of course, a burger isn’t likely to be top of anybody’s gastronomic highlights, but this was nicely done, (and it’s amazing how many places can get a simple burger wrong). The beef patties were thick and juicy, served on a lightly toasted brioche bun and featured generous amounts of cheese, sliced tomatoes, onions and gherkins, together with a splash of the restaurant’s tangy homemade sauce. Ketchup and French’s mustard were available if required.

The chips, cooked with their skin on, actually tasted as though they’d been made from fresh potatoes, which might sound obvious, but sadly, isn’t always the case. I kept things straightforward, going for the classic option, but there are other burgers of ever increasing complexity and price tags (katsu chicken burger anyone?) For those who don’t really care for burgers, there’s also a selection of hot dogs. I know, live dangerously.

My meal, with a can of drink, came to a very reasonable £9.35. Sometimes you want something quick and simple and in that situation, Burger  hits the spot very nicely. Perfect for a no nonsense meal and for those who are watching the pennies. The earth won’t move but you’ll come out feeling pleasantly full and here, that seems to be the object of the exercise.

4 stars

Philip Caveney