I stop by Haddington Place every Sunday when I get back from my gym class.
Just a couple of weeks ago, while people watching from the top deck of the bus, I noticed a gathering of young hipsters in a certain location.
Then the following weekend I saw others descend into a cellar.
Regardless of which fashion club they were a part of, I wanted to be the oldest member. So I looked around and saw, scrawled on the yellow wall outside, the word Ante. As it turns out, this is a new bakery and cafe project from the folks behind the excellent wine bar, bottle shop, and small plate restaurant, Spry, just up the road.
No secret calling is required to see if they have actually raised the ante.
It is very simple inside. Beige, but serviceable, and there’s a counter, with cakes behind it. There is also a breakfast, lunch and cake menu.
When things run out, they stamp SOLD on printed grocery lists.
I met my husband and a friend here, and there were already big red letters on a couple of options, including soft-boiled eggs with sourdough and connage cheese.
My appointments were running 15 minutes late, and my sense of urgency was increasing as the place started to get busier.
I didn’t let them share any jokes upon their arrival. “Command,” I ordered, my polarized Hangry glasses on.
She opted for the smoked salmon emmer bowl (£11) which was a vibrant beauty.
The base consisted of lentils and wheat, we think, in a silky, vinegary, miso-like sauce, and on top was pickled daikon, colorful red and white cabbage salad, as well as salmon puree and some kind of carrot mayonnaise on top. . There were so many lovely textures and sparkling flavors.
I ordered the parsnip pâté on toast (£6), which included a slice of sourdough spread with a sweet paste, and was topped with a little olive oil, crumbled walnuts and a little rosemary. I could have easily eaten two or three bites of this, and I wished I had ordered a second salty thing. Maybe next time I’ll go for a salad too, like the Roasted Celery with Arugula and Corra Linn (£8).
Annoyingly, I found out long after I got home that I had also been charged for a breakfast galette (£8) which we didn’t order. If they read this, maybe they’ll let me go back and eat it. Please?
I tried to take a bite of my husband’s pork and fennel sausage roll (£7.50) and his little ramekin of rhubarb chutney. It was delightful, dense in the middle, with a bivvy bag of crispy, golden pastry. I wasn’t sharing much though as it wasn’t the biggest portion either.
At least we had plenty of room for the cake. The ones available on our visit didn’t look very appealing, but that’s only because they had no frosting and were all Victorian brown.
Regardless, that non-flashy hue can be delicious too. My coffee cake (£4) was a side to Joe, rather than a coffee-flavoured cake, and, along with a Barebones chocolate mocha (£4), this sultana-riddled bread was a dream, with its crisp crust. covered in brown sugar. I got a huge slab, as thick as one of Topping & Co’s hardcover books, with a huge ball of salted butter on the side.
“If this were in wartime, it would be a whole year’s rations,” my friend said.
While the savory options are judicious, aside from perhaps the entree-sized bowl of salmon, the pies are generously served. It’s like your own grandmother is suddenly in the kitchen, in charge of portion sizes. The large triangle of pear and frangipane tart (£7) had a biscuit base and soft fruit poached in wine, as well as a scoop of crème fraiche on the side.
We also tried the breakfast biscuit (£3.50), which was flavored with nuts, seeds and oats, like a delicious granola in the form of a thick but portable biscuit.
The coffee is great. There was a flat white (£3.20) and we tried their oolong (£4), which was dispensed in ‘washes’, ie toppings into our glass teapot from a flask.
Thank you young hipsters for alerting me to the presence of this place. I’ll follow your trail of brown cake crumbs.
The verdict: How much? Lunch for three, no drinks, £39