What a difference a slice makes: good bread is essential

Whighams Wine Cellars, in the West End of Edinburgh

Whighams Wine Cellars, in the West End of Edinburgh

Recently I went to The Apartment and Whighams for dinner in the same week. I was looking forward to both with equal relish. I did not have the same type of experience, however.

I’m not going to itemise the various things that made one experience more pleasurable than the other. I’m going to talk only about bread. Bread tells you a lot about a place.

At The Apartment I got slices of thick bread, white and brown, just out of the oven. It was warm but not dry, dense and wonderful. I can go days without normal bread (not quite so long without crispbread) because it is not easy to get the quality of bread that I was served at The Apartment and bread that isn’t that good just isn’t worth eating. Fresh bread is a pleasure to eat and makes butter taste delicious. It tells you that if something as simple as bread is this good, the food will be amazing.

At Whighams I got slices of Sainsbury’s malted brown loaf. The fact that the slices were hand-cut and really thick didn’t make the bread anymore appealing. This type of bread is good for freezing and toasting, it is not good for eating on its own. And the pre-starter bread is given to you to snack on while waiting for the starter, it’s there to stave off your appetite just enough so that you don’t faint from starvation. It might also be there to give you something to play with and talk about. Dry, dull factory-loaves do not make me look forward to the rest of my meal and they make me say all the wrong things.

Yes. I want all restaurants to have a member of staff who can bake, or get their bread from an artisan bakery. Good bread is a beautiful thing. Bad bread is depressing.

The Apartment Bistro
7–13 Barclay Place
Edinburgh, EH10 4HW
Tel: 0131 228 6456

Whighams Wine Cellars
(Still one of my favourite places for glass of wine, but not a place I’d chose for dinner. Maybe the clue is in the name, but I remember the kitchen being really good when I used to eat here a few years back.)
13 Hope Street
Charlotte Square
Edinburgh, EH2 4EL
Tel: 0131 225 8674
info@whighams.com

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

5 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more: bread is the tester alright. I will be visiting Edinburgh and apparently going to dinner at The Apartment Bistro, so pleased to hear it will be ok!

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  3. …………………………………..by … 2010 April 22 ………If even one tiny undeclared enzyme in your body is interested in the future of bread and baking then your internal buzzer will be going off. Last Saturday I had the mixed blessing to report from the first Rise of Real Bread Conference for British Baker Magazine. A veritable fermenta levain of well cultured interested parties assembled a throng of approximately 150 souls each having parted with 38 or at the very least a whole Saturday to consider the future of bread.Sheila Dillon presenter of The Food Program chaired the proceedings and kicked things off by rhetorically asking Why does bread matter?

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