Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Always Sunday, High Street, Edinburgh

Remember the song?

I'm easy like Sunday morning
I wanna be high, so high
I wanna be free to know
The things I do are right
I wanna be free
Just me, babe!
That's why I'm easy
I'm easy like Sunday morning....

When Mary Macdonald decided to plan a mid career change of life, her dream was to open her own restaurant. Formerly an international lawyer and accountant, she decided it was time to do something distinctly different using her wide experience in business and finance. She arrived in Edinburgh and began to create a plan for a cosy, comfortable, casual, laid back kind of place to enjoy tea, coffee and good home cooking. The underlying ethos behind Always Sunday is to offer a quiet retreat from the day of work and busy lives; a "feel good" place where you can relax over morning coffee, a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea; a place where it is always Sunday.

The Restaurant
Cockburn Street Always Sunday is at 170 High Street on the Royal Mile, almost opposite Cockburn Street (pictured here). Regular guests include lawyers and judges from the High Court up the road, local business people, wandering tourists, students and shoppers. The interior decor is warm and sunny with soft lighting reflected off a white canopy ceiling, blonde pine tables with green upholstered chairs. The ambience moves between the seasons with a changing display of photographs depicting Scotland's natural landscape from Spring bluebell woods to Autumnal golden leaves and chestnuts. On the soundtrack are mellow songs from Leonard Cohen and the blues to soft jazzy tunes.

The Food
The Head chef is Monsieur Jean Marie Meny, who formerly ran his own eponymous French restaurant, J. M Bistro, in Stockbridge. The philosophy behind the style of cuisine is based around the freshest home cooked food, creative salads, hearty soup, organic produce, tasty vegetarian dishes, fine cheese, speciality breads, pastries and cakes. The lunch menu changes daily with a choice of soups, two or three hot dishes, baked potatoes as well as salad and cheese platters served with chunky bread. The café caters particularly for vegetarians and wheat, gluten and dairy- free diets.

Always Sunday
To help diners choose from the self-service counter, dishes are carefully designed and priced. For instance select the hot dish of the day, such as Stuffed Courgette with Carrot and Pumpkin seeds and this automatically comes with your choice of side dish and a salad. On this particular day there was the option of Potatoes Dauphinoise and Spinach and butternut squash salad. This salad is a delicious combination and very popular. Alternatively, a large bowl of Mushroom and nutmeg soup, served with olive bread and butter, Meat balls with brown rice, or an Open Sandwich with a wide selection of cold meat, cheese - perfectly ripe brie, mature Orkney cheddar - smoked salmon, houmous, tomato and mozzarella salad and two thick slices of bread. Expect generous portions of fresh natural food for a reasonable price. For drinks there's everything from pure apple juice, organic ginger beer, fruit smoothies to house wine and beer as well as fine tea and coffee.

Open from 8am weekdays (9am weekends), you can start eating this good food for breakfast. The Always Sunday full breakfast is a stylish healthy version of the Scottish Fry Up, with bacon, haggis, scrambled eggs, tomato, mushroom, toast and potato scone, (served with orange juice, tea or coffee), with of course the vegetarian option featuring veggie sausages and haggis. Indulge in the Salmon breakfast - smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, or the classic Continental with muesli, pastries and croissants. Following the Always Sunday philosophy of natural food, try the Vitality breakfast with cereal, fresh fruit and yoghurt with a smoothie. And from the a la carte list, simply have a bacon roll or a muffin and coffee. Tea and coffee has a menu all to themselves with a wide choice - cafetieres, Baileys latte, Americano coffee, with the option of vanilla and walnut flavouring, classic and herbal teas as well as exotic Asian Chai and Hot chocolate.

Always Sunday specialises in excellent homemade scones and cakes, some baked on the premises, others specially made to order by local baker, Amanda Goodness. You can expect a mouth-watering selection such as Banana cake, cereal bars, (gluten free) wheat-free chocolate cake, and JM's superb fat plain, fruit, date, cranberry or cheese wholemeal scones. People cross from the other side of Edinburgh to sample these. This is certainly the place for a slap up afternoon tea!

The Bill
Big bowl of Home made soup with bread £3.40. Hot main course dish with side dish/salad - £7.50. Salad platter - £5.45. Large Deli Sandwich with salad- £5.65. Open Sandwich - £3.80. House wine £3.20 quarter bottle. Bottle £12.00. Cafetière - £1.60. Latté - £1.95. Pot of tea - £1.60. Cakes - £1.50 to £2.95. Scones - £1.40. Always Sunday breakfast - £8.95. Salmon breakfast - £7.25. Bacon roll - £2.45.

Opening Always Sunday has been a dream come true for Mary Macdonald. It is her vision that has created this unique haven on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Quiet and relaxing, the experience is far removed from the loud and buzzing atmosphere of your typical American style city coffee house. The quality of the homemade and very tasty lunch dishes, the fabulous, fresh salads and the healthy wheat free cakes is exceptional and brings regulars back day after day. No wonder Always Sunday won an award as "Best new café in Scotland" by Theme magazine in Spring 2004, about six months after opening. This is the place for a lazy, lingering coffee, breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. Here the mellow mood is always "easy as a Sunday morning."

Open 8am - 6pm weekdays. 9am - 6pm weekends. Extended evening hours during the Edinburgh Festival in August. See also the Always Sunday Web site.

Vivien Devlin
November 2005

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