Word Of Mouth
3A Albert Street
Tel: 0131 554 4344
It takes a lot to lure you off the street and into yet another god-damn cafe when you’re an acclaimed food writer, inundated with requests to review nouveau brasseries and gourmet pubs. Oh to be AA Gill. Humbler Edinburgh bloggers, to whom freebies are as scarce as bluefin tuna, also require something a bit special to be tempted over the threshold however. Awesome coffee, impossibly beautiful waitresses and fully reclinable armchairs is usually a good starting point. We can now add an additional feature onto this exclusive list – having an awesome name. Word Of Mouth, for that is indeed its epithet, is a stupendously good name for a cafe. Or indeed for anything, be it a bakery, a pet or even a newborn infant. Word Of Mouth (the cafe) got there first however, thereby rendering Word Of Mouth (the dog) and Word of Mouth (the baby) that bit less special, should they ever materialise. If you’re going to call your cafe Word Of Mouth – and by all accounts, that is what Word Of Mouth have gone and done – then it had better be spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. Average establishments eke out listless lives, never knowing what it’s like to travel by word of mouth. As proof in point, consider the top-rated YouTube videos at any given moment: they’re either awesome beyond compare (that Charlie Sheen interview) or horrendously bad. Step forward Rebecca Black, but please don’t sing. If only Bites & Pieces had thought to call itself Word Of Mouth, its reputation might be spreading by word of mouth instead of in bits and pieces.
The real Word Of Mouth is a cosy cafe just off Leith Walk that affords inspirational views of a derelict car park riddled with syringes and bad graffiti. Inside the establishment, it’s kitchen sink central, with everything that could be crammed into a small room crammed into a small room. If the gewgaws and trinkets on the walls don’t assail you during lunch, your fellow diners’ elbows will. The waitresses, who are skinnier than a skinny latte with the foam blown off, are employed presumably on account of their ability to squeeze between tables. With half of the pint-sized caff taken up by an open kitchen, space is at an unattainable premium. Burp in here and everyone smells it. The cosy atmosphere it engenders however (the proximity, not the burp) makes it feel like a friend is cooking for you in your own front room. Assembling a pre-dinner zoot from the comfort of your chair is strictly frowned upon however.
In keeping with their ridiculously cool name, Word Of Mouth host poetry and music evenings. The most interesting event however has to be the Antisocial Writers Club, who ask ‘Do you like to meet like-minded people, ignoring them as you write your epic poem / strange prose / life-story?’ Seeing how this blog occasionally lapses into all three categories, an Edinburgh Uncovered residency in Word Of Mouth surely beckons. Nothing would be more scintillating than to engage in much ribaldry with the assembled staff and writers as we debate the meaning of pithy comments such as ‘The waitresses in Word Of Mouth are skinnier than a skinny latte with the foam blown off’.
With seating in scant supply, this oversubscribed cafe soon fills up with Nigel and Priscilla types clutching copies of Hedge Funds For Dummies. Don’t let their lofty career aspirations deter you however – the food here is banging, even if the seating arrangement means you have to endure horrific banter from all tables simultaneously. The cafe professes to use only homemade stock and free range chickens and to recycle, reuse and generally be kind to sweet ol’ momma earth. Yep, it’s that kind of a place. With dishes such as spiced lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and skewered king prawns wrapped in pancetta to be had, even a room full of bad poets would struggle to put you off your meal.
Try: The breakfast sandwich. It tastes as all-encompassingly satisfying as it sounds.
Avoid: Bringing a bottle of finest tonic wine to their BYOB evenings.
Breakfast rolls £1.70 / £2
Soup with bread & butter £2.95
Mezze around £4
Main meals around £6
Open Monday to Thursday 8 – 5
Friday & Saturday 9 – 9
Sunday 10 – 6