Jenny L. Edinburgh
Heart Buchanan is the epitome of day-time dining in the West End. Continental deli food, served on quirky crockery, and Earl Grey tea in an imitation-silk teabag.
The food is delicious, and suits my tastes perfectly: think italian meats and cheeses, fresh focaccia bread, balsamic and olive oil dresings, salads with roasted red peppers; but served alongside french toast with maple syrup, a delicious croque monsieur, and the Chef's famous sausage rolls. A common theme in west end eateries, mixing Scottish and continental cuisine, but one that works wonderfully.
It appears to be the sort of place where the sandwiches change daily. They serve brunch until 11am weekdays, and all day weekends. There's a choice of sandwiches, soups and cakes, with brunch covering granola, yoghurt, french toast, eggs benedict and bacon, and an intriguing sounding "Traditional French Breakfast" with fresh bread, yoghurt, saussison, and one square of dark chocolate. The regular menu is quite small, and sandwich fillings are unusual. Great for those with complex taste buds, not so great for fussy children or those seeking a reliable tuna and sweetcorn, or ploughmans.
I ordered the Pastrami, Emmental, Mustard and Saurkraut sandwich, that was chalked up on the board. My boyfriend had the same, with a side of French toast, maple syrup and lemon. The sandwich was well-filled (my pet hate is an inch of dry bread either side of the filling) and well-balanced with all the strong-flavoured ingredients. The bread was fresh, the pastrami very well peppered, the saurkraut crunchy. Served with a small (very small) salad, and a few crisps on a quirky wooden board-come-plate. A perfect sized portion, filling yet not overly, with just enough room for half a slice of cake.
The french toast, with maple syrup and lemon, was divine. French toast is often heavy, often too eggy and sweet, but this was light and very more-ish. It's quite a small portion, only one bit of bread, so perfect as a treat for kids (or as a side to a sandwich if you feel inclined) but not as a main.
Throughout the whole meal I had my eyes on the cakes cunningly displayed on the counter. Cupcakes, ginger cake, carrot cake, courgette and lime cake, custard tarts, millionaire shortbread. The ginger bread proved to be yet another excellent choice: moist, very gingery, but quite a humble portion size (often in the west end cakes are served by the slab). Perhaps not enough for someone only seeking coffee and cake, but perfect after a sandwich.
If you're looking for somewhere to catch up with a good friend over a delicious cake and coffee, that's not your regular starbucks, this is it. The cakes are probably the best thing about it (I ended up taking three different ones home). However, as it's very small inside it's not best suited to larger groups.
It could earn 5 stars easily for the quality of food, and level of service (attentive and friendly). However, as it is so small in size other customers came to the door and had to leave due to lack of seating. It was also very pricey and could really only be for an occasional treat rather than a weekly lunchtime haunt. A slice of cake was £2.95 and a sandwich £6.95.
When we left, my tummy and tastebuds were well-fed and satisfied; my (boyfriend's) wallet and other potential customers not so much.
As an aside, I did not experience what other reviewers have, of being asked to order in the deli (a seperate shop next door) and then take it next door. It may be they have improved this since then. There is a seperate deli, with a much wider range of foods (pasta salads, pies etc.) but we went into the cafe as a seperate cafe, without any need to visit the deli.