Sunday, 2 August 2009

Peter's Yard. The Quartermile

Reading through some of the previous review posts on here, I seem to always be very positive. Though this may indicate that I only eat in the most fabulous places (or that I have a thoroughly undiscerning palate), it's actually because I don't want to bother reviewing places that have rubbish food! Especially as they are usually places that you know will be rubbish, but you have to go ahead with it anyway because it's your friend's birthday and they wanted to go there (I'm talking to you, Wetherspoons). Although if I do eat somewhere that is hilariously bad, I probably will blog about it for comedy value.

Somewhere I have mentioned on here a couple of times, and I have been meaning to review for ages, is Peter's Yard. It's in the new Quartermile development, although to me, it'll always be on Middle Meadow Walk. A few weeks after it opened, a Starbucks sprung up 2 doors down. I did not hold out much hope. Well over a year later, and Peter's Yard is still thriving.

I love this sign - it tells the truth.

Peter's Yard isn't a typical Edinburgh cafe. For starters, it's not in a pokey converted tenement front room. It's industrial, with exposed pipes, concrete, lots of glass and half the space taking up by a very imposing looking bakery area. The menu is written on brown paper rolls that hang from walls, with no option of a frappucino with soy whipped cream and extra sprinkles.. In fact, you can't even choose to supersize your coffee, it comes in standard only. The furniture is stylish but utilitarian. This is not the third place.

Instead there are the usual coffees, including an honesty station, where you can pour your own filter coffee to take away, leaving your money in the jar next to the flask. The coffee is very good indeed, and often comes with some very impressive examples of latte art.

Latte Art at Peter's Yard

However, the thing that hooked me in, and drew me to Peter's Yard when I knew I should be in the library studying, or saving money by eating at home, was the food. All the baking is done on the premises, and they produce some of the best bread in the city. The cakes are also particularly good, with the parsnip cake and the Valrhona muffins being among my favourites. Often after a miserable day at uni, I would attempt to cheer myself up with a bowl of their soup, and a big hunk of fresh bread. They also sell quite a lot of grocery food too, such as packets of Swedish cookies, the teas and coffee blends they serve, and some seriously good chocolate, including Valrhona, Amedei and Michel Cluizel.

After a fun afternoon spent queuing at the council office to pay for a parking permit, I stopped once more at Peter's Yard. Deciding it was too hot for soup, and I wasn't hungry enough to justify a massive open sandwich, I went for a cappuccino and a slice of pecan pie.

Pecan Pie and Coffee at Peter's Yard

The coffee was delicious as usual, although I think that today's barista was still in training given the slightly poor attempt at latte art! (Some kind of musical notation? Or just a random swirl?) I love the way the top is really bitter, but the main coffee drunk through the milk is almost naturally sweet.

The pecan pie was rammed with nuts, and had an intriguing construction. Bordering the pastry was an almost cake-like layer, which I guess was probably made from ground nuts. On top of that was a hefty layer of whole pecans, and then the top was glazed with apricot jelly. This tasted quite strong when eaten alone, but when eaten with the pecans gave the pie a satisfyingly fruity aftertaste.

Peter's Yard is more expensive than a lot of other places nearby, especially given that it is a stones throw from the George Square campus. However, the quality of the food and drink is such that I think it justifies a slightly higher charge. If lunch at Starbucks is going to cost £5, then I'm totally ready to pay £6 and have something much much better. Given that Peter's Yard is often packed while the neighbouring Starbucks is almost empty, it seems many Edinburghers agree with me.

Peter's Yard on Urbanspoon


Signe Johansen said...

Sounds fantastic, wish we had a Peter's Yard here in Bloomsbury. That pecan pie looks divine...

Jenny said...

I imagine there are some pretty nice cafes in Bloomsbury though!