Tucked away at the foot of the Pentland Hills lies an exciting new cafe, already making its mark with outdoor enthusiasts.
Husband and wife team, Alex and Laura, have transformed what was the Flotterstone Information Centre into a cosy little cafe with six tables, serving light lunches, wholesome soup and seriously good coffee and cake.
The Pentland Hills Cafe Express, which opened in August, is adjacent to the public car park at Flotterstone, beside the path which meanders through the forest heading into the hills.
The cafe is already getting rave reviews on TripAdvisor with its quirky forest setting and healthy nourishment. Itâ€™s the perfect pitstop after a brisk walk on a raw November day, as my dad and I discovered.
The only nod to the information centre is some storyboards on the wall about the flora, fauna and history of the area, and some leaflets have been retained near the front door. Also the adjoining public toilets have been given a lick of fresh paint. Inside the cafe the decor is fresh and homely and the welcome warm.
The menu offers soup, paninis, baked potatoes, burgers on flatbread and at the weekends, a slow cooked special. Alexâ€™s Italian-Romanian heritage and Lauraâ€™s Lithuanian influence are apparent in several of the dishes.
To follow, my panini was a Mediterranean medley of fresh mozzarella, pesto, grilled eggplant (aubergine) and zucchini (courgette) while my dad chose the bacon, Brie and lingonberry â€“ a staple in northern European cuisine. Both were delicious and filling and served with a small dressed salad.
Alex brought us a special cake to finish â€“ his mother-in-lawâ€™s Lithuanian honey cake. With its multiple layers and creamy light texture it was worthy of a Great British Bake Off technical challenge â€“ and mouth-wateringly delicious. Other cakes on the menu looked equally tempting â€“ they are made locally and many are gluten-free.
It feels like an all-family affair with Alex and Lauraâ€™s dads building the seats out of pallets.
I had discovered the coffee a couple of weeks previously when I decided to tackle the seriously steep Scald Hill and passed the cafe en route. It was one of the best coffees Iâ€™ve had in a long time and gave the caffeine boost I needed to power me up the track.
So, get your boots on, head to the hills, and drop in afterwards for some good chat and cosy charm.
Tel: 01698 670533.
Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.