My morning saw my criss-crossing Edinburgh in highly silly fashion, this morning. From home in Haymarket, I first went to Portobello to visit the dentist (one filling, scale and polish), then from Porty it was to Saughton for a meeting, then back to the city centre for another meeting, before the lunch bell rang to save me from the madness.
Stepping out of my ivory basement, I strode towards Cockburn Street, once more, as following my visit to Ecco Vino, the other day, I discovered something of an unmined seam of lunch places. Of course, when you’re talking about that part of town, the peril you face is deciding which places are unabashed tourist traps and which are good places that just happen to be conducive to passing tourist trade. I think Café Marina falls somewhere in between the two, as it’s really rather good, but they definitely charge you for the privilege.
Run by some incredibly friendly folks, Café Marina is an all-day diner style place, with a strong Italian influence. Lunchtime takeaway options seemed fairly simple, with pasta, rolls and paninis, and a soup of the day. They look to have an extensive breakfast menu, and I hear their meatballs are something special, but it was soup and a roll for me, today.
I arrived towards the end of lunchtime service, so I had limited choices, but a roll on breaded chicken, with salad leaves and tomato, which the obliging counter lady topped with olive oil and pepper, suited me very nicely. The soup, described as chicken broth with noodles, sounded grand too, so I was happy to go with those suggestions. The price – £6.45 – was somewhat less appealing, but it comes with the territory.
I toddled down the road, and was soon testing the soup for temperature. The chicken broth with noodles, which remained nice and hot, was beautifully made stracciatella, the Italian classic of little shreds of egg, served in a broth, often (as was the case today) with big grains of semolina. It’s a soup I’ve tried a number of times, but with little great appreciation, but I’m delighted to report that this was extremely good. Not only is it a great lunchtime pick-me-up (as the counter lady had told me), but it’s a lovely light soup for a lovely sunny day, as today was.
The roll to follow was a little less inspiring, but was still a little above average, generous in its filling, and a good enough to provide ample lunchtime sustenance.
So overall, I enjoyed Café Marina. It’s a little pricey and tourist-trappy, but you’ll do well to find a warmer welcome, more helpful service or indeed better stracciatella. I would be happy to pop back to try their meatballs or perhaps make an early day visit for breakfast. If you choose to visit, I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by its quality and charm.
Blythe scores the Café Marina:
3.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s questers was: Blythe
I ate: stracciatella; breaded chicken salad roll
I drank: nothing
I wore: green devilish www.tieclub.co.uk tie
Total bill: £6.45
61 Cockburn Street
Edinburgh EH1 1BS
0131 622 7447