75 Lothian Road
Tel: 0131 229 8191
La Baguette don’t really do original ideas, which is why they’re called La Baguette and specialise in selling baguettes as well as other hot and cold foods based on the sort of ingredients that one would normally expect to find in a baguette. But what they do serve – mostly baguettes, funnily enough – they do very well, which is just as well really. Isn’t it interesting how the most banal English words can sound alluring when translated into a foreign language? Remember the Ford Cortina? That car probably wouldn’t have sold if it was called by its proper name – the Curtain. Similarly, The Roll is hardly the most inspirational name for a sandwich shop, but its sexier French cousin, La Baguette, is just about passable. Just.
Setting up a decent sandwich shop should not be the sole preserve of rocket scientists and Nobel prize winners. I mean, how hard can it be? You choose a selection of wholesome and easily prepared foods, including fresh bread and tasty fillings. You sell sandwiches that taste universally good, as opposed to the sort of processed mush that only a stoner would eat in an attempt to expunge the taste of bong water. The foregoing should be axiomatic, and yet you’d be amazed how many proprietors fail the elementary principles of Sandwich Shops 101. With kitchens filthier than a tramp’s vest and sandwiches as jaded as an Abba tribute band, such ten-a-penny establishments deserve only apathy and insolvency. Credit to La Baguette then for actually making an effort. Their sandwich menu is both diverse and extensive, their deli fridge is stocked with a smorgasbord of tasty fillings and their juice selection is Wikipedia-esquely comprehensive. The only thing that doesn’t appear to be freshly made is the soup, which is a shame, as it seems strange to master the art of making steak and onion baguettes, only to reach for the can opener when faced with the daunting task of boiling up some vegetables in a pot.
With both sit-in and takeaway options available, prices can vary from the reasonable – £2.75 for a baked potato with one filling – to the less reasonable – £3.95 for the same baked potato to eat in, its price increase justified by the obligatory pitiful side salad. (It’s probably also something to do with charging VAT to eat in, so we shouldn’t grumble, but we do, because this is Britain where complaining – like binge drinking – has been elevated to an art form.) A full Scottish breakfast, meanwhile, will set you back £5.95, but perhaps this too comes with a side salad in an effort to assuage the cholesterol-laden guilt and justify the price tag.
Unlike most sandwich shops, the seating in La Baguette doesn’t appear to have been squeezed in as an afterthought – there’s actually space here to stretch your legs, open your broadsheet and enjoy the sounds of Q Radio coming from the world’s tiniest TV in the corner of the shop. The relaxed atmosphere and prime location, in the heart of the city’s financial district, makes it a certainty to flourish, and that’s before you factor in their eminently scoffable sandwiches. Why can’t more places be like this (but with better soup and a better name please)? Yes, we here at Edinburgh Uncovered are hard to please; it’s just one of our many endearing traits.
Try: The juices. If you were to purchase one a day, by 2013 you could have worked your way through La Baguette’s entire range.
Avoid: Being paralysed by the sheer abundance of sandwich fillings available to choose from. They’re just trying to confuse you, the meanies.
Baguettes from £2.80
Steak and mushroom baguette £3.25