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B&B review: Tantallon Place, Edinburgh

Never mind the bed, it's the breakfast our reviewer is most excited about at this elegant B&B in Edinburgh's Southside

You can take your full Scottish. Starting the day with a fry-up is a step too far for me. Instead I've always judged a breakfast on the quality of its porridge, muesli or fruit salad. And if the toast comes with a collection of straight-from-the-cash-and-carry jam sachets, well, coat me in Nutella and throw me to the hotel inspectors.

So when I heard about a B&B in Edinburgh that sources its food organically, makes its porridge with Stoats oats (stoatsporridgebars.co.uk), and plies its guests with jams and marmalades made from fruit the owners have picked themselves, and bread delivered by their master baker daughter, I booked in.

An elegant Victorian villa in Edinburgh's Southside, in the Grange conservation area, Tantallon Place is efficiently run by Ann and Mike Walsh. After 20 years in the city, the couple are now as firmly established here as shortbread on the shelves of Jenners' food hall, despite respective roots in Yorkshire and Ireland. So it's a surprise to find that their organic philosophy came from a stint living in Canada in the 1970s. "We had a 10-acre site on Vancouver Island, chopped our own wood and raised chickens," says Ann. Unlikely hippies (Ann has an immaculate grey bob and Mike the dark pink trousers popular among Highland lairds), the experience left them with a commitment to organic living.

"Now we just have a veg patch and use the farmers' market (edinburghfarmersmarket.co.uk)."

Yet the thinking remains. While Ann is showing me around, daughter Caroline arrives by bike to drop off some organic sourdough. Previously employed at the Rose Bakery in Paris, she is now master baker at Loudons (loudons-cafe.co.uk), a hip cafe in the Fountainbridge area. Her sister, Lucy, is a chef at Sweet Melindas (sweetmelindas.co.uk), a great neighbourhood seafood restaurant 10 minutes from the B&B, and drops off occasional rounds of soda bread.

It's not just the food that has a sustainable slant, though. The bed in the larger of two guest rooms was made by Tim Stead, using wood from various Borders estates, Faith in Nature toiletries are supplied and fresh flowers come straight from the couple's garden.

Tantallon Place isn't perfect. Though spotless, some of the decor and bed linen is dated, and although the tea tray comes with fresh milk, one of the best selections of teas I've ever come across in a B&B, delicious homemade biscuits and a fabulous plate of fresh fruit, the coffee is instant. But for the price, it's a steal.

And breakfast? I had a temporary wobble when I spotted jars of shop-bought jam on the table but, over the next hour, a pinnied Mike brought out a feast of freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit salad, homemade rhubarb compote, steaming porridge, homemade marmalade and, of course, the famous toast. That day's offerings included Caroline's rye and sourdough, Lucy's soda bread and a surprise wild card spelt loaf from nearby Falko (falko.co.uk).

• Rhiannon Batten travelled to Edinburgh with East Coast Trains (0845 722 5333, eastcoast.co.uk), which offers single fares from London to Edinburgh from £12.90


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Publication Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 21:44:01 GMT
Source: The Guardian
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