Do you eat breakfast? I do. Every morning. I wake up hungry, so I look forward to breakfast and get very grumpy if I have to miss it. Last week, I didn’t miss it, but I had to postpone it. Instead of yogurt and cereal in bed, I got up, showered and took the bus to Leith. My destination was Mimi’s Bakehouse where I was to try Beforenoon Tea, a morning take on Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon tea is a pleasant indulgence. The tower of goodies, a mixture of sandwiches and dainties, is very appealing. There is – to me – something quintessentially British about sandwiches, cake and tea. Lashings and lashings of tea. The concept is both simple and luxurious. Historically, it’s an afternoon treat, a little something to help fight off hunger before dinner, but the afternoon is not the only time of day you might be hungry or in need of tea.
Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith is already an institution for lovers of good baking. The cafe is busy, and it’s fun watching cakes and boxes of goodies go out the door. Now, they serve Beforenoon Tea: bacon rolls, cheese scones and a selection of breakfast-themed treats. I can’t think of a better reason to defer breakfast for an hour or so. We took our seats in plush pink armchairs, smiled at the list cake-lady wall paper, nodded approvingly at the slogan on the staff’s T-shirts It’s all about the cake, and put in our orders for tea and coffee. We didn’t have to wait long before breakfast arrived.
Layer one: floury bacon rolls
I hadn’t had a bacon butty before I came to Scotland. Yes, we eat bacon in Sweden, but in my mother’s household, bacon was not a roll or sandwich filling. It was something you had with eggs, or chopped and fried with potatoes and onions. It wasn’t a snack or breakfast food but dinner. Maybe that’s why I can be quite fussy about my bacon roll. The roll is very important to me. I don’t like flimsy cotton bread, but want something with a little body to it.
Mimi’s rolls were perfect. White but sturdy, with a chewy, floury crust which set off the salty, crispy bacon perfectly. If these are the only bacon rolls I have this year, that’s fine with me because I’d be hard pressed to have better.
C, my breakfast companion, doesn’t eat bacon, but luckily the veggie option – grilled cheese and tomato – was equally delicious.
Layer two: cheese scones
The first thing I ever had at Mimi’s was a cheese scone. It was very good and very large. (It was so large I ended up calling it lunch.) So I was excited seeing cheese scones on the Beforenoon Tea menu. I had two mini cheese scones, perfectly risen and golden, with glossy flecks of cheese and dark specks of chive in the crumb. They came with cream cheese and chives, a very nice accompaniment.
A piece of advice: pace yourself. There’s a lot of food to eat. You might want a second pot of tea at this point.
Layer three: the sweets
A pot of yogurt, compote and granola was my first step into the dainty side of Beforenoon Tea. It was gorgeous: crunchy, coconut-y granola over tangy yogurt with a lovely fresh blueberry compote. It also felt virtuous and was a superior version of the breakfast I have every morning.
As I ate my granola, I eyed the rest of the goodies, trying to decide what to have next. I went for the pancake stack. Three sweet and firm pancakes, with emphasis on the cake, sandwiched together with dulce de leche. Very nice indeed!
Another piece of advice: pick up the stack and eat it as it is. Deconstructing the layers lead to very sticky fingers.
Having cleaned my hands and rested for a little while, I was ready for the mini-muffin du jour. We were there on a raspberry and Nutella day. I like Nutella. I like raspberries. The two met happily in a moist muffin that was topped with a glistening smear of hazelnut spread. Yummy!
I finished Beforenoon Tea on a cinnamon note. An extremely well-glazed cinnamon swirl disappeared down my gullet with the last of my tea. It was rich, buttery and wonderfully sticky, reminding me of American cinnamon rolls. It was a very nice note to end on.
Beforenoon Tea is available at Mimi’s Bakehouse on the Shore, Saturday and Sunday, 9 -12. it’s £13.50 per head. Add a glass of juice for £2.35.
Edinburgh, EH6 6RA
Telephone: 0131 555 5908