From Hanover Street you can see the sea, the Firth of Forth glistening just beyond the Georgian rooftops of Edinburgh’s New Town. The corner with Queen Street is home to Urban Angel, an ethical coffee shop and bistro.
At first glance it seems small, but descend a few steps further and there is a little labyrinth of rooms, one leading onto a basement-level courtyard for outdoor eating on days like this one – sunny, dry and unseasonably warm.
Wooden tables are set atop flagstone floors. An old-fashioned stove is the set piece on the far wall, logs loaded on each side and large white candles balanced on top. Black and white photos of Edinburgh in years gone by are arranged on the wall below a chalkboard menu of specials.
Those behind this ‘urban angel’ “love food and believe the finest, carefully sourced produce should be for everyday, not just for special occasions.” It’s an approach that means everything on their wide-ranging menu (brunch, lunch, evening meals and desserts) is fresh and full of flavour.
Brunch is on offer here from 9am to 5pm, taking in traditional cooked breakfasts as well as healthier options. Lunch is split into ‘little’ and ‘large’ plates, ranging from artichoke bruschetta and polenta bites, to superfood salads and pulled pork ciabattas. Evening eats, from 5pm, are available at the Forth Street outpost, and include hand cut chips, pan friend salmon and the restaurant’s speciality burger.
The Urban Angel ethos was evident in my late afternoon “brunch” choice of free-range poached eggs with toast, and a side of spinach. A simple serving, but the chunky hunks of bread were lightly toasted, the eggs were perfectly poached, and the spinach was deliciously strong, with just a hint of balsamic vinegar mixed in among the leaves. As someone used to eating eggs straight from the crofts of Ness in the Outer Hebrides, it takes a lot for breakfast food to impress me; this one managed to do just that.
Accompanied by a flat white coffee (topped with artfully poured foam, of course) and a large glass bottle of chilled water, my Urban Angel experience was just the right way to wind down after a morning of retail therapy in the shops of the Scottish capital.