Kat Adam chews over some seriously classy bread in a modern artisan bakery and café run by Swedes
Across Britain there are around 3000 craft bakeries. In France, with a similar sized population but a rather different attitude to bread, there are 35,000 craft or artisan bakers. French, German and Eastern European traditions have exerted the strongest influence on ‘continental’ bakeries in Scotland, often upholding the essentials of good bread in the face of the industrially produced pap which, shamefully, makes up the vast majority of bread sold in the UK.
Until now we haven’t looked to the Scandanavians for inspiration in this realm, but on the evidence of Peter’s Yard, the impressive Swedish artisan bakery, deli and café located on the edge of Middle Meadow Walk in the new Quartermile development on the site of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, respect is clearly due.
A joint venture between Swedish businessman Peter Ljungquist and Edinburgh-based partners, Sophie and Robin Dow, Peter’s Yard is the first overseas expansion of a craft bakery opened in 2002 by Jan Hedh, one of Sweden’s most prominent master bakers and confectioners. Hedh developed the breads and a wide range of home-made ice-creams, jams and marmalades at the Olof Viktors bakery/café in southeast Sweden where great care was also devoted to creating a unique style of open sandwhich. ‘The primary ingredient of a good sandwich is passion, then well dressed, top quality bread,’ Ljungquist says. Four bakers from Olof Viktors were drafted in to help set up the Edinburgh venture, but staff are being hired locally and trained in Hedh’s bakery techniques.
Swedish architect and designer Nirvan Richter designed the Edinburgh site in conjunction with furniture developer and manufacturer Norrgavel. The interior of the café is light and lofty with glass from floor to ceiling, bare concrete pillars, steel counters and wooden tables. The quasi-industrial impression is given warmth thanks to Norrgavel’s typically simple and comfortable Scandinavian furnishings.
Brown paper menus scroll down the walls listing drinks and daily specials. Baskets full of sourdough, dark Swedish rye, knobbly walnut and date loaves and green-flecked spinach bread fill a central table while extensive shelving holds an exotic range of artisan chocolate and a variety of Peter’s Yard crispbreads and biscotti. The Swedes have long been champions of an up-beat, wholesome attitude, so there’s good coffee, muesli and yoghurts at breakfast, huge bowls of appetising soups at lunchtime including a vibrant beetroot soup and open sandwiches made with ingredients such as roasted Angus fillet beef, horseradish and pickled red onions on Levin bread, a raisin-based sourdough.
Parked prams can be a hazard at busy times in the two separate seating areas, and the café buzzes during the day. It will soon open regularly until 11pm, with pizzas baked in stone ovens and Valrhona chocolate desserts served along with Scandanavian spirits. Jan Hedh will be in town to host chocolate tasting evenings and bread making demonstrations and discussions through the year. It’s tempting to try to recreate the recipes at home, armed with Hedh’s book. But, then again, who wants to be stuck at home when Peter’s Yard is such a pleasant place to be.
27 Simpson Loan, Quartermile, Edinburgh
0131 228 5876, www.petersyard.com
Contemporary Swedish artisan bakery and café. Average two-course lunch £10