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Edinburgh, insider travel tip

February 4, 2012

Ingrid and Stuart outside of Bon Papillon Gallery,Café, Framers, & Shop

I was lucky enough to stumble on Bon Papillon last summer when in Edinburgh. I’d just visited the wool shop nearby and needed a cup of tea and a place to just chill for awhile.  It was festival time, and my search for knitting wools had brought me onto a side street off busy Prince’s street, a good way down the hill. It was a relief to get away from the intense bustle and crowds, and when I saw the little terrace and art gallery offering cake and coffee, I couldn’t resist.

Bon Papillon had just opened a few months earlier. Once inside I sat down at a wooden table in a lovely, warm and intriguing interior and had the best cake and coffee I can remember having in a long time. And the prices were as friendly as the owners. I chatted a bit with Ingrid Nilsson about her art and this new venture she was embarking on with her partner Stuart Allan. It turns out Ingrid is an exhibiting artist, and Stuart has 20 years experience in catering. Judging from the deliciousness factor of the food there (11 on a scale from 1-10), that’s not hard to believe.

How can you choose????

Stuart's Beet & Ginger cake with lemon frosting

I have mixed feelings about sharing this here, because part of the pleasure, of course, is the surprise in discovering a gem like this. I’d hate to see it overrun and the owners start to consider expanding; the appeal is in the intimacy of a small 2 person place with so much attention to detail. For me the charm lies in the combination of amazing, food made with  pure, natural ingredients, the friendly ambiance which leads to conversation between tables should you wish (people bring their knitting and sketchbooks), the reasonable prices, and the great selection of art. I should add that Stuart has started a framing shop in the back, and it looks like this too is done with the same care and high standard as his cooking. Even though it is not edible!

Café interior

Stuart framing

So, when you are in Edinburgh, do go to this little haven on Howe street, say hi to Ingrid and Stuart,and eat some cake for me.

Oh almost forgot to say, they carry my felt brooches.
Tip- they’ve got some wonderful art shows coming up, see their blog .

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4 Responses to “Edinburgh, insider travel tip”

  1. decorartuk Says:

    This little gallery seems very inviting. And these cakes… oh… I must admit I don’t like big shopping centers, the smaller the shop, the better. You’re right in saying that details make it special, they certainly do! And if you can meet the owners and chat about this and that, well, that’s the expierence that we seem to be running out of and it’s a real shame.

    P.S. I’ve never been to Scotland, but Edinburgh is on my “want to see” list.

    • szoutewelle Says:

      Do try to get to Edinburgh, it is a special city, full of history and atmosphere. I’ve been several times in the last year and it is really growing on me. And another thing Bon Papillon has going for it, is that it is just enough off the beaten track that you can just relax in quiet there. This is especially nice for solo travellers like me. (R stays home with the dog). All the other restaurants and cafés, many of them chains, nearer to Prince’s street are too busy.

  2. m Says:

    ooh as an Edinburger I’ll check out this tip! And it gives me an excuse to nip into the wool shop as well – on my artist date list!

    • szoutewelle Says:

      Lucky you being an Edinburgher. Artist date indeed, that’s exactly what I did when on a project last November with Alicia in Glasgow. I took the train to Edinburgh, visited the Elizabeth Blackadder show one more time (breathtaking), then toddled along to the wool shop and Bon Papillon. A perfect day. Oh, I had another tea at Hendersons. yum.


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