Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, not because of when it’s consumed but because of what’s traditionally consumed with it. I set no temporal bounds on when I might enjoy a few rashers of bacon, or some buttered scrambled eggs; I’d be just as happy to have them at dusk as I would be at dawn. And when hunger struck me close to midday on the streets of Edinburgh, I thought of no better remedy than the local variant of the quintessentially British “full breakfast”.
Welcome to Deacon’s House Cafe.
- Name? Deacon’s House Cafe
- Type of establishment? Café-Restaurant
- Operating hours? 1000-1600 Sun-Thu, 0930-1600 Fri-Sat.
- How much? Breakfast £2.80-£9.90 / Lunch £4.50-£9.80 / Baked goods £1.90-£4.20 / Non-alcoholic beverages £2.10-£3.40 / Alcoholic beverages £3.80-£8.90.
- Related link? Website
- Date of visit? Tuesday, 7th June 2022
- Time of day, type of meal? Midday, breakfast (consumed as lunch).
Deacon’s House Cafe sits within Brodie’s Close just off Lawnmarket, on Edinburgh’s famed Royal Mile.
The address supplied on their website is 304 Lawnmarket, 3 Brodie’s Close, Edinburgh EH1 2PS.
I was about halfway through my one-day jolly in Edinburgh when nature called.
No, not that sort of call…the other kind. The kind that involves being told by one’s stomach that it’s time for a fuel stop.
Walking downhill from Edinburgh Castle along the famed Royal Mile, I swung into Brodie’s Close not far from St. Giles’ Cathedral.
A signboard next to the entrance gave a brief background of the premises:
The ground floor of the cafe was originally Deacon Brodie’s workshop.
The vaulted ceiling in the kitchen dates from 1420 and is one of the oldest in Edinburgh. This part of the building was the brewhouse for the abbey which occupied this site.
The Thistle Room upstairs was part of D.B.’s dwelling and the ornate ceiling dates from 1645.
Tempted as I am to launch into a lengthy discourse about the chap whose name is inextricably linked to the place, I’ll content myself with dropping this link to a Wikipedia entry as it’ll do a better job of boring the readership to death. For our purposes, suffice it to say that this building supposedly incorporates remnants of the house of William Brodie (a.k.a. “Deacon Brodie” from his professional title): a respected member of 18th-century Edinburgh society, Deacon of Wrights and Masons, town councillor, established cabinetmaker, father of five…
…and convicted robber, hanged for his crimes in 1788.
Fancy that. Honourable tradesman by day, criminal by night. A real Jekyll and Hyde if there ever was one.
Well that’s all very interesting…
…but I was hungry. Menu first, history later.
Right, they’ve piqued my interest. Time to strike a deal.
Walking deeper into Brodie’s Close, I came upon a set of tables arranged on either side of the passage. The sign next to the open door left me in no doubt as to my whereabouts.
Don’t let the apparent silence of the scene fool you: the place was packed. The main dining area is indoors (pictures here), but it was so busy that prospective patrons had to wait to be seated – if they were keen on a table inside, that is. Outdoor tables were in good supply, but it was a little cold for early summer and most people preferred to wait for a warm indoor seat.
I, on the other hand, was absolutely relishing the chilly breezes and accepted the offer of a table in the open passageway.
After perusing the menu card, I took note of my table number (scrawled in chalk on the rough stone wall nearby) and approached the counter indoors to order.
And here we are.
My choice was The Full Deacon (£9.90), the café’s version of the traditional full Scottish breakfast. This was a veritable feast of smoked Ayrshire bacon, Stornoway black pudding, sausage made from a pork-haggis blend, free-range scrambled eggs, baked beans, and roasted cherry tomatoes, served with lightly toasted bread and butter. To wash it all down, I ordered a glass of pressed apple juice (£2.60).
The sight of this meal, as hearty and complete as it may seem to us, might extract a bout of anguished wailing from a culinary nit-picker. Granted, it lacks certain elements commonly associated with the full Scottish breakfast; tattie scones and Lorne sausage, for example. One might even decry the absence of mushrooms or the small quantity of egg on the plate. But with there being no single, universally accepted list of what exactly constitutes a “full Scottish”, I’m quite happy to accept a few variances – more so because nowhere in the menu is this even explicitly described by that label.
I might add, barring the inexcusably poor version served on my train from London, this was my first proper encounter with any form of the UK’s classic full breakfast.
Goodness me, I think I’ve found a new favourite dish. (Well nothing beats Hakata ramen in my book, but this ensemble is nipping at its heels.)
The black pudding was the most delightful discovery of all. Despite my reservations about its, er, signature ingredient, I was surprised to find this traditional British delicacy completely to my liking. (Shame there was only one slice for me to devour!)
My only regret? Not trying out the café’s selection of pastries and other tea nibbles. That’ll have to wait for another visit – and it’s just one of many many excuses for me to return to Edinburgh someday.