REVIEW – Fair Trade Coffee Shop, Albert Place


The promise of the ‘best pancakes in Edinburgh’ lured me into the Fair Trade Coffee Shop on Albert Place and looked to be a reasonable little cafe.  The walls are covered completely with posters for upcoming gigs and you place your order before trying to get a seat (16) in the back where free wifi is offered.

Fair Trade Coffee Shop, Albert Place

Fair Trade Coffee Shop, Albert Place

The couple of women in front of me ordered the pancakes, so I thought I was onto a winner and that these woman knew the secret of the best panckes in Edinburgh, coming back for them time and time again.  They were informed, and in turn me, that it would be 5 – 10 minutes for the pancakes as they had to make some more batter.  No problem I thought, I could wait.

I ordered tea, despite there being a huge selection of fair trade coffee on order (I don’t like coffee) and at 85p for tea, very reasonable.

My pancake order was for plain pancakes with maple syrup at £3.35 with £1 extra for bacon.  Not a bad quick lunch price of £5.10 as you’re getting savoury and sweet at the same time.

I made myself comfy through the back reading the free magazines and my tea arrived after 10 minutes or so, strongly brewed and practically undrinkable.  Not a good start.  Another 10 minutes passed, no sign of the pancakes, for either me or my fellow diners.  The smell of the fried food coming out of the kitchen was strong and visibly hung in the air of the seating area.  Not a good way to relax.

10 more minutes later (and a running total of 30 minutes), my stomach was screaming out for food as the stewed tea didn’t hit the mark,  the pancakes finally arrived. 

Mmmmmm, I thought – they certainly looked good if a little on the small side.

Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup

Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup

The amount of the maple syrup on offer was not enough and was soaked up quickly by the pancake before I set about tucking in.

Soaked up syrup

Soaked up syrup

At this point my mouth was watering and when I cut into the pancake, it crumbled.  When I tasted it, I was sorely disappointed as it was more like a scone.  It was so dry inside, even with the syrup, it was practically inedible.  The women at the table next to me clearly thought the same, as they left the cafe with their pancakes still on the plates.

I was too hungry to leave them behind  (I had waited long enough for them)  so when the waiter (I think owner) asked me if everything was ok, I asked for more maple syrup and told him they were slightly on the dry side.

Expecting him to take my small jug and refill it with fresh maple syrup, or even bring the bottle so I could soak the pancakes and their dryness away – I watched in shock as he picked up the syrup that the women had just left behind and offer me that !  

‘You don’t mind do you ?’  he said,  I replied  “yes, I actually do mind.”    I am usually quite laid back to food hygiene when travelling the world, but when in Edinburgh, I expect certain standards and didn’t want some random women’s maple syrup (no offence ladies).

I asked him for fresh stuff, but the size of the tutt drowned out the music playing and at that point I decided that the ‘best pancakes in Edinburgh’ was a very poor description of what I had been served, along with the service and left.

At Edinburgh Spotlight, we normally eat twice at a place before reviewing it, to give a fair overview of both food and service, but on this occasion, it’s a one time visit, never to be repeated.  The gentleman who I had shared his table with could not believe what he had seen either, but then he was using the wi fi for a cup of what I presume to be reasonable coffee.

Not recommended from us and their sign should be changed to the ‘driest pancakes in Edinburgh with second hand maple syrup’.  With the added bonus that you get to leave the cafe smelling of greasy food which I can still smell in my hair as I type this a few hours later  :(

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