Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

Rob and I went to Edinburgh for a day out yesterday.

We started out with a coffee and cake at The Chocolate Tree cafe. It is quite small inside, with a few tables and a shabby chic interior. We sat at a table in the tiny cupboard-sized room in the back with some very unusual artwork on the walls (dead animals under the ground apparently giving new life to the bulbs and flowers above!). A barred window gave a limited view onto a garden, the flock wall paper had seen better days and we amused ourselves while waiting (for rather a long time) for our order to arrive, by perusing the well-thumbed children's books, which were lying around. The Americano coffee was excellent. The cakes looked wonderful - Rob had carrot cake and I had a white chocolate, ginger and raspberry cake - but I found mine incredibly sweet and sticky and not really as tasty as I had expected. The bill came to £10.60.

The Royal Botanic Garden was our next stop. The weather was beautifully warm and sunny, so we enjoyed strolling about the spacious grounds at random, before heading to the glasshouses. Entrance to this area is £5 per adult.

Lunch was at nearby restaurant, In Touch. The waiter was welcoming and friendly and the service was just right. The restaurant felt modern and clean and there was a background of music that was at a pleasant volume. We were the only diners there, on a Tuesday lunchtime, but it gets many favourable reviews on TripAdvisor, so I'm sure it is busier in the evenings.

The menu included Indian and Malaysian curries. We chose the set vegetarian meal and had a huge three course meal, starting with onion bhajis. Next was pilau rice with fried onions, garlic naan bread, potato and spinach curry, vegetable dhansak and aubergine, pepper and onion curry. The dessert was vanilla ice cream. My favourite dishes were the rice and the vegetable dhansak and potato/spinach curry. They had plenty of spice to them and were served nice and hot, with a table top heater to keep the food warm. The portions were large - far more than we could eat for a lunch (it was really part of their dinner menu). Rob said that the naan bread was also very good, with plenty of garlic flavour. The starter, and the aubergine curry, although tasty, were swimming in oil - too much for my taste. With a large bottle of sparkling water (shared), the bill came to £32.90. We would definitely go back. The lunchtime specials are good value, too, at under £8 for a couple of courses.

We caught a bus to Bruntsfield and walked back through Morningside, enjoying the mix of small, independent shops, charity shops, cafes and restaurants. We managed to fit in one more coffee stop at Leaf and Bean. We've been there twice now, and the coffee and tea are great and the staff are very friendly. They also serve breakfasts, cakes, scones, sandwiches, soup etc. A nice place to stop for a rest if you are in the area.

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