Royal Exchange Coffee House
I’d heard that Mary King’s Close had done some re-jigging within their popular tourist attraction to use the Burgh Courtroom as a more extensive cafe. This didn’t really register with me as a significant matter, but I chanced across their menu and it seemed to have a decent focus on showcasing local produce, so I made a note to visit and finally got around to popping in on a quiet December lunchtime.
Previously the space was devoted entirely to the gift shop, but there’s now a good-sized cafe with seating with around 30. Called the Royal Exchange Coffee House, the interior is a real Old Town jewel, with elegant light-fittings and beautiful cornicing. The tables and chairs are more modern and understated but smart enough. I took a seat and considered the menu.
Dishes are tourist friendly, but very reasonably priced for the location, and clear in their commitment to promoting local producers. I decided to start with Cullen skink then followed with a dish of two small pies (selected from a choice of half a dozen varieties) served with mash and mushy peas. I ordered this from one of the very friendly counter women.
The soup soon arrived looking much as expected. The accompanying bread looked uninspiring and proved very poor, so a fresh supplier for that aspect of the menu is required. However, this was a rare mistep.
The soup was a very good, chunky and hearty version of this classic Scottish smoked fish chowder. It hit the spot very nicely.
The main course pies proved similarly impressive. I had chosen haggis & steak and game pies, both of which were nicely crafted with crisp pastry. The peas and mash were rustic and a little unrefined, but this was probably as they should have been. I liked the dish, muchly.
So overall, once they have their bread sorted out, the Royal Exchange Coffee House will be a very compelling offering. They’re ploughing a similar furrow to the Scottish Cafe at the National Gallery, but at roughly half the price. As such this is heartening to see. And while I didn’t try their coffee today, they’re using a blend from Edinburgh Farmers’ Market regulars Northern Edge, so I imagine it will be good stuff. Make sure to pay it a visit, soon.
Blythe scores the Royal Exchange Coffee House
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 15/20
I ate: Cullen skink; pie shop pies (game and haggis & steak)
I drank: water
I wore: pinstripes
Total bill: £10.70