The Konect Cafe Crawl

A round-up of independent local cafes in the Konect area.

February 2015

I love cafes. They're for meeting, escaping, talking, working, reading; for a quick meal or a leisurely coffee. Owners lovingly bring a little bit of their dream to their cafe. For some, it's about beautiful décor and ambience; for others it's speciality food or an obsession with the coffee itself. Cafes are all different, so there's one for every occasion and every mood. We embarked on a cafe crawl to visit as many as possible in the areas our magazines cover. Use this guide to discover one that you didn't know about, either close home or a little further afield...

Cupcake Cafe Bar, Torphichen

is in a country setting so there's plenty of room for a garden with several picnic tables, which I'm sure will be great in the warmer weather. I visited on a cold January day though and enjoyed their heart-warming cream of mushroom soup - made from scratch on site – and Brodies coffee. There was plenty of friendly banter and some regular customers who are self-appointed scone experts reckon they are the best scones anywhere! And of course as the name suggest, there are cupcakes galore, which, like all the food, are made on site.

Free Wifi. Westerwood Farm, Torphichen. Open 7 days 9am -4pm.

Bus Stop Cafe, Bathgate 

is bright and quirky. There are plenty of tables and the walls are lined with vintage china and tea pots, most of which have been donated by Bathgate residents. You order your food at the counter that looks like a domestic kitchen, complete with fridge covered in magnets, and you can see cafe owner Pinar or other staff members preparing your food fresh right there. Also sells old-fashioned sweets. 24 South Bridge Street, Bathgate, EH48 1TL. Open Mon to Sat 8.00am -16.30pm.

1912, Bathgate -

in the renovated landmark building, beautifully furnished to make the most of its architectural features, including the feature window facing towards Glasgow Road, and a mezzanine level above the bar. Quality food, free wifi, good atmosphere. In the evenings it transforms into a bar with regular live music. Their approach was summed up for me by the owner when they opened, who said, “If you feel like a glass of champagne with your stovie, why not?” 2 South Bridge Street, Bathgate, EH48 1TW. Tel 01506 633133. Open Sun - Thurs 11am to late, Fri - Sat 9.30am to late.

East Meets West, Bathgate

is run by a local family whose idea is to offer a range of Indian food along with Scottish favourites. The premises was formerly a cafe which had become run-down so they have re-fitted from scratch to stamp their own personality on it and have put a lot of thought into the menu. There is a comfy sofa area. Free wifi. 6 North Bridge Street, Bathgate, EH48 4PS. Open Mon - Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm.

Partnership Centre Cafe, Bathgate

is operated by local catering company Food Creations, who have outlets all across West Lothian and run a busy events catering business. The Partnership Centre Cafe is conveniently located in the same building as the library and many council services, is bright and airy and serves all the usual favourite lunches and hot snacks.

Hopetoun Deli, Bathgate

opened in October last year. It's a small premises with 5 tables and is very busy behind the scenes making food for the catering and delivery service side of the business. They make as much of their food as possible on site, and offer breakfasts, sandwiches, paninis, pastas and salads (they don't do any fried food) for sit in or takeaway. Monthly meal deals, Italian Aroma coffee and a selection of teas. 54 Hopetoun Street, Bathgate, EH48 4EU. Tel 07788 378317. Open Mon 8.00am – 3pm, Tues to Sat 8.00 – 4pm.

Cafe Yum Yum, Bathgate

opens at 6am for all the early birds who like to get their cooked breakfast on the way out to work! “I'm here at 5.30am anyway doing the baking for the day, so I may as well open up and serve breakfast!” All the usual home-baked favourites are made fresh daily – stovies, macaroni, toasties, hot-filled rolls, soups etc as well as cakes, cheesecakes and other sweet treats. Free wifi, plenty of room and a bright corner location. 1 Jarvey Street, Bathgate, EH48 4EZ. Tel: 01506 635305. Open 6am – 4pm Mon to Sat.

The Coffee Cup, Deans, Livingston - 

run by Deans resident Val, it is one of Livingston's very few (only?) independent cafe owned by a local person, which makes it special to start with! Val wanted to create somewhere nice in Deans for people to meet up for a coffee or snack. There is a cosy corner with sofa and kids' toys. The cafe is particularly popular for Val's monthly themed-nights – she runs Chinese nights, Indian nights, Greek nights etc which are incredibly good value. 118 Carmondean Centre, Deans. EH54 8TD. Open Mon-Sat 8am-3pm and Sunday 9am-3pm.

Thistles Coffee Shop, West Calder

is named after the landmark Thistle Tower that used to be located a few buildings down. We sampled soup of the day here – a very generous sized serving. The cafe was buzzing with customers and there is a kids' corner. Huge thistle-inspired lamp pendants hang from the ceiling, there is a good atmosphere and it's clearly a popular local cafe. 11 Main Street, West Calder, EH55 8BY. Tel 01506 873322. Open Mon - Fri 8.00 am - 4.00 pm & Sat 8.30 am - 4.00 pm.

Cafe Nuovo, West Calder

 is a long-established cafe run by locals Harry and Carla who also have the busy Food on the Go sandwich delivery and catering business. Cooked breakfasts, lunches and their own bakery products. They usually have a little bookshelf of second-hand books to buy for a charity donation too. Family-run friendly cafe. 8 Main Street, West Calder, EH55 8DA. 01506 871217. Open Mon to Fri 7.30 am– 4pm, Sat 8am - 4pm

Little Whispers Cafe

is tucked away off the Main Street in West Calder within Little Whispers shop. This small cafe has a peaceful, sanctuary-like atmosphere. Their cakes are baked on the premises by owners Carol and Steve, who is a qualified chef. They don't do a full lunch menu, but it's a perfect spot for a quiet drink and quality cake. They offer a cup reading service (tea leaves or coffee grounds). 48 Main Street, West Calder, EH55 8DR. Tel 01506 253467. Open 10am – 4pm Mon to Fri and 10am – 3pm Saturday.

Bay Tree Cafe, East Calder

(formerly One Stop Coffee Shop) has been under new ownership since last summer. It's a compact premises with four small tables, great for a quick stop and re-charge, serving a cooked breakfast from 8-11.30am and if you're in a hurry you can pre-order your food. Free wifi and a selection of newspapers. 227 Main Street, East Calder, EH53 0EL. Tel: 01506 881016. Open Mon to Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8.30am -4pm

Almondell Cafe, East Calder, within Veitch's Garden Centre is run by professional chef Lydia who has selected the menu based on over 10 years catering experience. Breakfasts, lunches, hot snacks and home-baking – the cheesecakes seem particularly popular! It has a homely and relaxed atmosphere with a mixture of table seating and sofa/coffee table area for relaxing. The proceeds are used to fund Lydia's charity work in Zimbabwe. Within Veitch's Garden Centre, East Calder, EH53 0ET. Tel: 07955 382042. (The cafe has been closed during January but re-opens on 26th Jan). Open 7 days 10am - 4.30pm

Ratho Community Centre Cafe : One of the rooms in the Ratho community centre transforms into a cafe between 9am and 3.30pm Monday to Friday. It is run by Ratho resident Andrew who will give you a friendly welcome. Andrew specialises in amazing cake creations (he makes celebration cakes to order), his baking is particularly good but we've enjoyed great paninis, soups and coffees there too. Ratho Community Centre, 1 School Wynd, Ratho, EH28 8TT. Tel: 07717 221160

The Corner Cafe, Currie, is spacious and charmingly furnished with mis-matched wooden tables and chairs painted in creams/pastels or bare wood, giving it a relaxed farmhouse feel. When I visited for a pre-Christmas catch-up with a friend, there was a buzz and good atmosphere. There is a large gluten-free section on the menu. The cafe is table service and the food and coffee we had that day was great. 20 Lanark Road West, Currie, EH14 5NY. Tel 0131 449 3153. Open Mon to Fri 8.30am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 10am – 4pm.

Riccarton Garden Centre Coffee Shop, Currie offers a very extensive menu with loads of filling choices for baps, paninis, baguettes, tortillas, jacket potatoes, not to mention salads, soups and specials dishes. The cafe is spacious but is subdivided into sections, giving each area a cosier feel, including a raised area with a few tables and children's play area, and a conservatory. Riccarton Garden Centre, Riccarton Mains Road, Currie, EH14 5AA. Open Mon to Sat 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm. Tel 0131 449 4004.

Letterbox Bistro, Balerno is a hidden gem...Steven and Sharon, who run Balerno Post Office, have partitioned off the end of the room and turned it into a really cosy little cafe/restaurant, serving excellent Italian coffees (probably my favourite coffee is here of all the ones I've tried – smooth and sweet enough to take with no sugar) and amazing home baking during the day. They have a deli counter and on Friday and Saturday they serve real foodie food in the evenings. 36 Main Street, Balerno, EH14 7EH. Tel 07790 377648. Open Mon to Fri 9am -5pm, Sat 9am-3pm, Sun 10am-2.30pm. The Bistro is open for meals Fri & Sat 6pm – 10pm.

The Mill at St Joseph's, Balerno is a community cafe - any profits go back into the running of The St Joseph’s Centre for the benefit of the community or other causes. (The Centre is used for many events) – the cafe tables are stacked away and it is a large space). Most staff are volunteers and will give you a cheery greeting, and home-baking contributed by local people adds to the range of food made daily on-site. The Mill uses fairly-traded products as much as possible. It's a very relaxed environment with a kids corner with toys and books, so is an ideal meeting place for parents with toddlers. Free wifi. Adjacent to Balerno Parish Church, on the roundabout in Balerno. EH14 7EH. Open Tues - Fri 9.30am-2pm.

Merlot & Mocha, Currie is the new one on the block, opened just before Christmas. Owned by a local businessman, it has been refurbished and is light and spacious. The furniture gives it a pub-like appearance at first glance but there are touches that are definitely more cafe-like – an interesting mixture and the explanation is in the name! The food we tried was good (paninis, soup with warm bread, creamy mushrooms) and the table service also good. They do tapas on a Tuesday evening. Looking forward to finding out more as they get established. Free wifi. 4-5 Pentland View Court, Currie, EH14 5NP. Tel: 0131 4492828. Open Mon – Fri from 8.30 - late, Sat/Sun 10am - late.

Molly's, Juniper Green, celebrated its first birthday last month, and while you may know Molly's for their coffee and cakes (owner Sarah runs cake and sugar craft classes) they now offer light lunches too - soups, filled rolls etc. Everything is made on site – the day I was there the scones had sold out by 11am, so I had one from the second fresh batch of the day! (according to one of Sarah's other customers they are the “best scones in Edinburgh...”). Free wifi. Open 9am-4pm Mon - Thurs and Sat; Fridays 9.30-4pm. 563 Lanark Road, Juniper Green, EH14 5DB. Tel 0131 610 0665

Woods Deli, Juniper Green, are very proud of their food, and judging by the excellent salted caramel brownie I sampled here, justifiably so! (They sell 40 trays of this brownie every week, so I'm not the only one who thinks it's pretty good!). The coffee has been carefully selected from Italy and all cooking and baking is done on site. On Thurs, Fri and Sat evenings it is Woods Bistro serving high quality meals (“I like to think we set the standard for gastro food in this area.”). Open Mon to Sat 9am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm. (Bistro open Thus to Sat 6pm-midnight).