10 Gillespie Place
Tel: 0131 228 5200
Touch is a word that conjures many different images within the business world. The professional touch implies a proficient and diligent approach to trading. The haptic touch elicits touch screen technology facilitating transactions at the swish of a digit. Arguably the most important form of touch within any successful business however is the personal one. It humanises us and imbues meaning into even the most perfunctory transactions. It makes us feel as unique as the 50 other customers who just bought the same coffee from the same cafe. Whether purchasing a sandwich or a massage, the basic principle remains the same: all we’re seeking is that something to render it a bit special; a smiley face on the greaseproof paper or a kiss on the lips. That’s all it takes. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
Any sandwich shop can pump out Radio 2 and punt chicken mayos by the fridge-load, but it’s only when the staff indoctrinate you with their own playlists and urge you to taste their favourite sandwiches that you feel human. Until you return to the office, at least, and have to resume the daily grind. You don’t have to agree with your sandwich artist’s choice of Sleater-Kinney and Wensleydale with carrot chutney on rye bread, but at least thank them for making the effort. Bespoke service certainly beats the snarled ‘Have a nice day’ that comes as standard with all foods prefaced by ‘Mc’. Amidst a glut of identikit caffs, the personal touch can really make a difference. If asked for their idea of the ultimate sandwich, the staff should be squabbling over the shortlist of ingredients, not shrugging their shoulders and mumbling ‘I dunno. Ham and cheese always seems to sell.’
Long before the awesome spectacle that is Edinburgh Uncovered came to be, providing a convenient excuse for deferring a career in favour of sitting about in my boxers reviewing greasy takeaways, I used to run a sandwich shop. Had it been situated in Edinburgh and thus qualified for this blog, I’m sure I would have reviewed it in glowing terms. As part of the shop’s quest to provide the personal – or at least the quirky – touch, I established Exotic Soup Fridays. As the name would suggest, the soup of the day was composed, on such occasions, primarily from vegetables whose names could be neither pronounced nor spelt – mooli, plantain and yuka. Sure, it was a bummer if you jumped in wanting some humble chicken broth, but great fun for the regulars. Zany ideas should be encouraged in moderation, as should gregarious staff who are willing to dust phallic shapes onto your cappuccino with a little persuasion.
Scott’s Deli is an up-and-coming eatery that’s already conquered the big things – selling quality food in relaxed surroundings. Now, under new management, they’re trying to take care of the little things in the hope of turning it into Bruntsfield’s preeminent sandwich shop and delicatessen. The food’s always been good, boasting a hearty selection of fresh breads, pastries, tortillas and tarts. Its chilled atmosphere, with free wi-fi and computer access, is conducive to finishing that dissertation or simply finding your next friend-with-benefits on Badoo. And for customers blessed/cursed with kids, the deli’s child-friendly status means you can relax while the young uns do what they do best, namely tear the place apart. Nothing tests a venue’s child-friendly status to the limit like a brace of screaming toddlers daubing crayons across the £12-a-metre wallpaper. With plans afoot to open up a spacious downstairs area with even more kiddy distractions, it’ll soon be possible to leave the children playing happily while you nip over to the Meadows to enjoy the sun.
As if all that wasn’t jaw-droppingly exciting enough, we haven’t even discussed the side salads yet. Traditionally, side salads are an afterthought appended to plates solely to justify extracting an extra £1. After black Liquorice Allsorts and custard skin, side salad must account for the majority of the UK’s landfill. Indeed, in a previous blog in a previous life, I had this to say about the hated side salad:
“Order a meal in any cafe and I can guarantee there’ll be a side salad chucked in. Burger, chips and side salad. Lasagne and side-salad. Apple pie and side salad. In some eating establishments, this insipid adornment is even referred to as ‘complimentary’. Who’s it complimenting? Certainly not the chef. Paying extra for two pieces of lettuce and half a tomato is like going to a cocktail bar and being served a glass full of ice with a drop of margarita for a fiver. I can only recall one occasion on which I got excited by a side salad, and that was because of the caterpillar crawling through it. Needless to say, I ate the caterpillar and discarded the rest.”
In case that came across ambiguously, I’ll clarify matters: I’m not a big fan of side salads. Nevertheless, I ate all of mine in Scott’s without having to dump half of it in a plant pot. Knowing how proud my mum would be, I immediately made use of the deli’s free wi-fi to Skype her and relay the good news. Needless to say, she was delighted.
Try: Coffee and a sandwich while killing the shop’s bandwith by streaming South Park on your smart phone.
Avoid: Using their generous children’s facilities as a creche, because that would be unethical.
Sandwich with two fillings to go £3.25
To sit in, with kick-ass side salad: £3.75