“Hidden gem” is a term that I do not care for at all. Places need to be seen and are easily viewable if you’re looking. If they cultivate a secret status they need to be bloody good (Secret Herb Garden, for example) otherwise hidden gems quickly become failed businesses.
There are, however, some places where I feel people wilfully refuse to look: community centres, church cafes and the like. People just don’t seem to be that interested in them, but I’ve had a number of excellent lunches in these type of places.
My latest venture into that territory was at Arthur’s Cafe, which forms part of the Southside Community Centre, on Nicolson Street. Rarely have I felt a warmer welcome matched with the sense of a surer hand at the kitchen tiller, than in this friendly community eatery.
The set-up was much as expected with counter service and informal cafe seating. I ordered at the counter choosing the chicken soup over the carrot from the daily changing selection. I added the quiche of the day which was olive, tomato and onion. It came with mash and peas, or salad if you were seeking a lighter, leafy option.
The soup was one of those blissfully hearty concoctions, put together with care, attention, and all the tasty ingredients to hand. It pleased me, muchly.
The quiche was of similarly impressive quality. This was very good, accurate baking with a filling that drew together smartly complementary flavours.
So overall, I really enjoyed Arthur’s. And this is without yet mentioning their “Arthur of the Week” board (pictured) which was just hilarious. It’s so great to see such simple, tasty fare being served to a really good standard. These type of cafes may not look like much, but there’s much to be said for the cogency and focal point they bring to our communities.
Blythe scores Arthur’s
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 14.5/20
I ate: chicken soup; quiche, mash and peas
I drank: water
I wore: pinstripes
Total bill: £5.95
Address: Southside Community Education Centre, 117 Nicolson Street, Old Town, Edinburgh EH8 9ER