/ The Edinburgh Guide
Edinburgh — By Andy Hayes on March 15, 2010 at 9:01 pm
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Edinburgh Cafe Culture at Elephants and Bagels

I thought I’d briefly highlight what many people call my “remote office” because you’ll find me there working often.  It’s the lovely cafe of Elephant and Bagels in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The Venue

In amongst the ethnic grocery shops and restaurants on Nicholson Square sits a true Edinburgh favourite cafe-cum-bagel-house.  Elephants and Bagels is an unassuming one-room cafe with several tables and a great menu of bagels and related sandwiches.  There’s only one outside table – yup, that’s it above – and on a sunny day it is perfect.

The bohemian cosiness of this place is great, though be forewarned that it can get pretty crowded at lunch and on weekend mornings.  But I don’t mind, and it’s still a good place to check out as they offer takeaway.  The Meadows is only a 5 minute walk around the corner, so you can get a bagel and take it out to your favourite grassy knoll.

The Vibe

This place is popular with students, being in eyesight of several university buildings, so there’s quite the lunch rush.  Otherwise, it’s just a entrepreneur hangout for the laptop crowd – that’s because the space is definitely setup for it, with bench seating around the entire main area perfect for your laptop with plenty of room to perch a coffee and bagel.

This is the sister establishment to the Elephant House on George IV Bridge, so the decor is similar (in a good way): lots of bric-a-brac and miscellany.  It’s crazy and quirky without being too busy; I think that’s why locals like it for a work hangout because it gives off those creative vibes without getting in the way.

The Food

There are a few options on the menu, but what’s front and centre are the bagels – and why shouldn’t they be!  Later in the day you’ll find choice and selection limited, but man no matter what you’ll probably get a fantastic assortment of stuff to check out.  Here are just a random view of your options:

  • Onion bagel with roasted peppers and cream cheese
  • Cinnamon and raisin bagel with peanut butter
  • Poppy seed bagel with salmon and cream cheese
  • Cheese and jalapeño bagel with chicken and sundried tomatoes
  • Multi-grain bagel with hummus and pesto

Do you get the idea?  Yeah – the sky is the limit.  They have a number of pre-identified combinations, but if you ask nicely they’ll put whatever you want on any kind of bagel.  Don’t forget to ask for it toasted if you want!  I suppose it goes without saying, but the bagels are fantastic; there aren’t lots of bagel shops in Edinburgh but this is one of the better ones.

Prices are fairly ’standard’ I would say – a bagel and coffee will run you around £5, give or take depending on what toppings you choose.

The Coffee

So, it’s a cafe, right, so it makes sense that they serve up juices and soft drinks along with your requisite selection of coffee bar options.  But I have to be honest:  the coffee is just ‘ok.’  It’s served in these cute mugs with the logo and establishment name on them (as you see on the table in the photo), and while it looks nice, I don’t like the cups.  It makes the coffee tastes like tin.   Though I have to say the lattes or anything with steamed milk tend to fair better than a regular cup o’ joe.

The Essentials

Address: 37 Marshall Street (that’s Nicholson Square, just south of the Festival Theatre)

Open:  Mon–Fri 8.30am–5.30pm; Sat/Sun 9.30am–5pm, though to be fair I have been kicked out of here early!

Phone:  0131 668 4404

Photo by kevinmcc

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