As sun bathed Edinburgh, and people flocked to the city’s many verdant green spots, I confined myself to a brisk lunchtime walk and a little stop off at Bon Papillon, the New Town’s foremost artistic café.

The place is one of those marvellous hybrids of which Edinburgh is rather fond. Where else in the world would you find, for example, a shop that combines TV repair with darts supplies, other than Borland’s TV and Darts on Croall Place. In Bon Papillon’s case, it combines coffee and comestibles with picture framing and art shows. This is perhaps a more well-established, proliferating hybrid than Borland’s model, but who’s to say that the day for TV and darts combo shops isn’t just around the corner.

Blurry counter

I digress. Run by Ingrid and Stuart, who bring with them a wealth of experience from dining establishments across the city, the place is light and airy, busy with contemporary art, but soothing and welcoming. Their menu focuses on café classics: coffees and teas; soups and sandwiches; light daily specials; and glorious cakes.

With today’s soup, which was a vegetable borsht (which was accompanied by a herb scone), I opted for a hot-smoked salmon and cream cheese roll. At £6.30, this wasn’t cheap, but there are at least a couple of mitigating factors to consider. Firstly, I don’t think they’re really relying on takeaway business (although I’m sure they welcome it); they want people to come, sit, take in the wonderful surrounding art and get tempted to invest in it. Secondly, unlike on my trip to Circus, I’m pretty sure that the soup and scone on its own would have kept a normal appetite sated for the afternoon.

Soup and scone

However, I was massively hungry after MJ and I had walked from 9pm Saturday night until 9am Sunday morning (we know how to party), as part of our training for the upcoming London to Brighton Challenge, which we’ll be undertaking in May. After much sleeping, yesterday, I have been ravenously hungry since then, so lunch today was always going to involve large portions.

Once returned to my unsuitable-for-sunny-days basement, I turned my attention to the soup. The soup tasted good, but could have used another few minutes on the stove. I don’t mean it wasn’t hot; I mean the vegetables could have been a little softer, and if they had been, then the starch released would have created a better texture, which would have worked a little better. As it was, it was good, but had the potential to be a little better than that.

Lovely herby scone

The accompanying herb scone was just lovely. It had a good tight crumb to it, which resulted in it being both really hearty and filling, and also proving excellent at soaking up the soup. I’ve not been lucky enough to be served a savoury scone to accompany my soup, before now, but feel I should be much more often.

The roll, of the large poppy-seed variety, was excellent, with the hot smoked salmon proving to be an excellent filling. My beloved Café Domenico’s (where we will be dining on Saturday night) used to serve hot-smoked salmon from time to time, so it always brings back happy memories. The Bon Papillon version was every bit as good, which is high praise indeed.

Tasty roll

So, I was very pleased with Bon Papillon and regret not having visited sooner. Today, I didn’t catch them on their best soup day, but given the quality of the other two items I sampled, I have a feeling that it’s usually to a much higher standard. I’ll need to go back and verify that for myself (I’ll let you know, when I do), but that will be no hardship, at all, as I found the place completely charming. I recommend you pay it a visit, soon.

Blythe scores Bon Papillon:
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Today’s quester was: Blythe

I ate: vegetable borsht with herb scone; hot smoked salmon, cream cheese and sun-dried tomato poppy-seed roll

I drank: sparkly water, espresso

I wore: walking boots that are now practically fused to my feet

Total bill: £6.30

Written by BKR