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
Edinburgh, EH2 4EL
Tel: 0131 225 8674