Credit: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Cafe W

Only £1.95 for a taste of, ‘the most scrumptious cake’ in children’s literature.

Café W is cupcake heaven: Raspberry and White Chocolate, Pink Lemonade, Chocolate Strawberry Sunday, Raspberry is anyone supposed to make a decision?

The cakes are locally sourced from the Cuckoo Bakery, which specialises in unique, decorated cupcakes; the sandwiches too are bought from New Town Deli only a couple of miles away. Though Café W is a chain, each cafe sells individual stock from the nearby area; it’s a refreshing change from Starbucks or Costa which, even if you visit them in Amsterdam or Paris, are identical to each other.

On the counter is a chocolate cake advertised as the cake from Matilda, which Mrs. Trunchbull forced Bruce Bogtrotter to eat. It is only 1.95. Only 1.95 for a taste of, ‘the most scrumptious cake’ in children’s literature.(Actually that’s wrong, I definitely remember a defiant Brucie claiming that his mum’s was better). The kid in me is sold anyway, and the adult who passes over the card easily gives way - of course a cuppa is also ordered.

The cake is great. Gooey, moist, chocolately, (what every chocolate claims to be but rarely is). It is better than any Café Nero or Costa Coffee equivalent I’ve had - and I’ve had them all.

I am tempted to lick my plate but am worried the staff might go all Trunchbull on me and smash it over my head. Resisting, I content myself with looking around the cafe. It is a good place to come to alone: quiet enough that you can easily work but also quiet enough that you can easily ear drop. There is only one thing better than people watching with a good cup of tea, and that’s people listening with a good cup of tea. (The cup of tea, by the way, is a good one - and, being from Yorkshire, I have high tea standards.)

As I scan the room my eyes meet with an elderly man doing exactly the same thing. We both look down embarrassed. People watching may now be socially acceptable stateside - I recently heard that at Boston Univeristy there is now a People Watching Club - but us Brits are clearly still only closet ogglers.

I notice my little finger has accidentally strayed from my cup and is now stuck straight out. I tuck it quietly back in and, tiring of people watching, turn and stare out at the view. Out of the wide bay window you can see the craggy hillside, which forms the end of royal mile, and on top of which Edinburgh castle is proudly sitting. It is an unrivaled city view.

I sit for a good two hours reading my book, The Blackwater Lightship Colm Toibin, and no staff disturb me. The atmosphere is relaxed, casual; there is non of the maddening hustle and bustle of normal chain coffee shops. This could easily become one of my regular haunts for when I need some peace to work.

Since writing this, I've been back many times and can now say the cupcakes are as good as they look - the red velvet in particular should not be missed.

Best Bits
  • Locally sourced sandwiches and cakes
  • The best cupcake selection I've seen
  • Unrivalled views of Edinburgh Castle

128, Princes Street

Eat & Drink