I am the worst Australian patriot out there. After moving to Scotland I’ve tried my best to integrate into Scottish culture and can honestly count the Australians I know on one hand - most of them are people I’ve met and/or interviewed through Exploredi. Flying to Europe is not the easiest of treks, a 22hr flight with at least one stopover to endure and a bit of a culture shock waits for us once as soon as we leave the airport. We are foreign to the concepts of Starbucks and Costa and revel in the idea that ‘we know coffee’, hell we usually even tell each cafe we go just to make sure it’s good.
It bothers me, it really does.
That’s why a statement I’m about to make hurts. Australians do make good coffee, we apparently invented the Flat White (sorry New Zealand) and most major cities are littered with great cafes on every corner you pass. The average quality of these cafes is probably the best in the world, it’s rare to find a bad coffee to be fair. But does Australia make the best coffee in the world? Probably not, personally I think the Scandinavian countries get to hold that mantle with their super light fruity expressions. So what do Australians ‘know’? They know cafes, they know cafe culture. The statement here: 'Australians know brunch. They know it better than anywhere else in the world.'
Now I’m not saying there aren’t great breakfast places in Edinburgh, there definitely are. There are also amazing coffee shops, I’m writing in one right now (Lowdown). The problem is I constantly find myself having to choose between getting a great feed and getting a great coffee, which will typically just lead to me jumping between venues. It's a harsh statement but coffee is the afterthought in these ‘breakfast restaurants’.
I just can’t accept this though. It’s like an Italian restaurant neglecting red wine, the two just go together.
The Pantry does great food, so do Loudons, Urban Angel, and a bunch of others. Hell, I love a greasy fry up or bacon roll and there are plenty of those about as well! The coffee in these places though isn’t taken care of as well as they take care of their food - food first, service second, coffee third.
This week though, my prayers were answered. I finally made my way to 27 Elliots and boy is it incredible, sorry for being late to the party. A cafe worthy of a place in any city in the world, even the proud (stubborn) Melbournians would accept this marvel of a cafe.
A natural Brazilian espresso roasted by small Edinburgh independent roaster Obadiah was meticulously weighed out, produced and served in one of the most beautiful cups I’ve got to drink from. Milk chocolate with small hints of tangerine make for a pleasant espresso and obviously a great milk coffee should you swing that way. Most exciting coffee in the world? No, but did they extract it perfectly? Yes, hell they even threw out a coffee that didn’t quite pour right. Speciality coffee standards in a ‘breakfast restaurant’.
And the food? Wow.
Sage fried egg over lemon greens on sourdough. So smart, so interesting.
On their own, the lemon greens could be a bit overpowering and sour is definitely the first flavour that hits you square in the face, but hell I could eat a container of citric or tartaric acid. The lemon greens though with the fatness of the egg and the sage? It all works together to create something beautiful and complete, everything on the plate serves a purpose. The yoke pulls the acidity down, rounds it out and lets you experience them both with a hint of sage. The sage, while it could be infused into the lemon or added to the greens is fried to add texture to what are otherwise typically soft ingredients.
Food that makes you think, food that really puts a smile on your face.
The other options are great too. Vanilla pears, strained yogurt, toasted hazelnuts and honey. Lemon-scrambled eggs with dukkah and sourdough toast. Apple curd with roasted fig jam, sourdough toast and butter.
It’s that extra thought that takes them to the next level, as when I look at all these options I see a menu that could easily be: Yogurt with honey and hazelnuts, scrambled eggs on toast, jam and toast and fried egg with spinach. Probably similar what you’d find in a bunch of other places about town.
The prices are superb too with nothing over $7 from a chef that has (according to her website) worked with Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein. Jessica Elliot Dennison has worked on both sides of the world and her time in Sydney probably explains the well rounded and exceptional nature of 27 Elliot’s breakfast offering. But I'd prefer to think that this has nothing to do with Australia and this place just wants to provide a complete experience and put smiles on people's faces. I hope more cafes like 27 Elliot's can pop up soon, it's the way this city should go - we have enough places solely on making fantastic coffee and giving an avocado on toast.
I can’t wait to see what’s next, see you soon.
27 Elliot's - 27 Sciennes Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1NX