They say the best pastries come from France, and the best chocolate from Belgium. But there’s another player on the Kuchen scene, and a strong competitor too, that is: Germany.
Bruntsfield Place once again proves its worth on the Edinburgh coffee arena with this Artisan gem. Not to be confused with Artisan Roast, the Falko Konditorei prides itself in mastering the traditional skills of bread and cake baking, and shares the results of its work with the locals.
I’m not particularly savvy on German sweet produce, apart from strudels and Stollen cake, yet, the moment I saw the little bakery tucked at the very end of the line of shops on the corner of Bruntsfield Place, I knew I could not give that one a miss: original signage in the mother language and golden loaves on wire shelves in the window promised an experience from the heart of Europe (I reckon, a crispy, freshly baked bread is something not many Brits can truly appreciate). But having hardly been to Germany in my caffeine-conscious life, I didn’t know what to expect from their coffee.
Inside did not disappoint: a shaded yet somehow luminous interior invited to sit down with a newspaper and a sweet bun; and so did a bar-lady in an unmistakable strong accent. I ordered a mocha, of course, and a cinnamon swirl, which in the last minute I changed to an apple strudel; after all, not every day do I have an opportunity to try an authentic bake at the base. And when I saw the other table receive their teas with lemon squeezers sitting on top of the cups, my excitement doubled.
I have to say, I was rather anxious taking my first sip of that coffee; but that one sip put a huge smile on my face and made me relax in my chair, despite having to be somewhere else ten minutes later. This was a worthy, although unexpected challenger to the excellence of Project Coffee, just across the road; and to my taste, it passed the test.
Although the chocolate was Swiss, not German, the coffee was nothing short of a Konditormeister perfection. Smooth, dense and sweet, but on the dark cocoa side. The apple strudel was a bit disappointing, however; I think that if it had been warmed in an oven, and not a microwave, the pastry would have got back its crispness, lost whilst sitting in the pastry case. Despite that, it was mouth watering, rich in apples and raisins (spiked with rum!), and fitted my coffee just right.
As to the staff, they were professional and helpful; when it turned out I had to run to a cash machine for change to pay, I was let go without a blink of an eye or a funny look.
I think it is no news that foreign signature venues are always worthy exploring; although there is no rule that will grant a satisfying visit, Falke for sure is one of those places that encourages me to discover German cuisine further; let me know if you share the same sentiment.