Clarinda’s Tearoom is a fabulous place for food and refreshments in the Canongate. When you step inside, you must adhere to the rules from the start! Considering this is a prime tourist hang out with such close proximity to the Palace, it can be busy all year round, but certainly always busy at weekends. At peak tourist times there can be queues out the door.
It’s definitely kitsch inside – full of various decorations, fancy tea pots and plates on the walls, flowery tablecloths and a mixture of tables and chairs.
Before taking a seat, you will see the waist-enhancing cake table, which of course, you are not allowed to touch. In fear of not being able to hold back and facing a Clarinda’s life ban, I sat down at the nearest and smallest table and averted my gaze. I didn’t want to take up valuable space in this wee place, but as another rule states, tables will be shared during busy times.
I have no problems sharing tables, in fact I quite enjoy meeting tourists and finding out what they think about Edinburgh or having a chat with some other locals.
On the menu, there are more rules. No sharing a plate, but if you were to order a main meal each and then share dessert that would be ok. Breakfast is served from 8.30am until 10.30am, but may also be served after 10.30am (confusing!)
I was completely safe because it was lunchtime and I was hungry, therefore I ordered a meal appropriate to the time of the day, a toasted sandwich with crisps and small salad.
The accompanying salad was a little uninspiring, but the toastie was warmly welcomed on a cold day. I had a pot of tea which was reasonably priced, but if you only want a cup, then it’s only 75 pence. They do a good selection of herbal teas and hot chocolates, but they do charge 50 pence for tap water unless accompanied by a meal (rule #34).
For dessert I plumped for rhubarb pie with cream at £2.40.
It had been warmed up and was a generous portion, with the taste being very impressive. The rhubarb wasn’t too sour and the pastry was divine. A fantastic choice by me. I have sampled many of their tray bakes and can tell you that I haven’t had a bad one yet. The home-baking from the team behind Clarinda’s is really the selling point here.
Everything is also available to takeaway at a slightly lower price and is popular with local workers who form an orderly queue (adhering to the separate rules regarding take away).
You are never going to be encouraged to linger here. They state that you can “mention us on postcards, but when we’re really busy, please give up your chair”.
Don’t be put off by the rules and regulations though, I am reviewing with my tongue firmly in my cheek. It is a friendly place on the whole and they are just trying to run an efficient business with the small number of tables inside.
Perfect for locals’ and tourists who are happy to mingle and get cosy over good tea and cakes.
Suitable for disabled ? Yes, ground access and separate bathroom.