HER signature dishes may be banana pancake and a fried breakfast – but that hasn’t stopped one cafe owner from out-dining some of the Capital’s top culinary names.
Edinburgh University graduate Natalie Kwek said she was stunned after The Haven, her cafe in Anchorfield, Newhaven, was highly recommended by every customer who reviewed it on TripAdvisor, one of the world’s biggest travel websites.
The endorsement allowed the cafe, which only opened in November last year, to shoot past Michelin-starred restaurants Castle Terrace, Number One, Martin Wishart, Kitchin and 21212, in the site’s rankings – even in the food category.
But while these restaurants typically serve pigeon, deer and rabbit at around £70 a head for three courses, The Haven is a more modest affair.
Its menu includes scones, cakes and pancakes, as well as a full Scottish breakfast with sausage, bacon, black pudding and haggis – and all for just £5.95.
Ms Kwek, 26, said: “I really didn’t think it would do this well. It’s just simple comfort food that I do. I can’t believe my cafe is being mentioned in the same breath as these amazing Michelin-star restaurants.
“I have never had the pleasure of eating in any of them but know they have a fantastic reputation. To see my cafe rated above them and praised by so many people on Trip Advisor is amazing and a real honour.”
The combination of freshly-made, home-cooked food served at reasonable prices has drawn high praise from Ms Kwek’s customers.
Although taken by surprise by her early success, Ms Kwek, originally from Glenrothes in Fife, said the decision to open the cafe marked a change from her days at Edinburgh University, when her mind was focussed on the great works of cinema and literature as a film studies student rather than the cakes and pancakes she serves at The Haven.
She said: “I initially thought the cafe would be a good thing to do in the future but after university and working in shops for a bit, I thought, why not just go ahead and do it now?”
Initial encouragement, and a little financial backing, was provided by Ms Kwek’s father, George, 61, a businessman who owns a string of takeaways in Fife and the Capital.
Ms Kwek said the space she later turned into The Haven was first bought by her father, who was keen for his daughter to follow in his own footsteps as an entrepreneur.
She said: “We got the cafe last June, when it was bought by my father and I rent it from him. I was not too keen at first because it seemed to be in a strange location – it’s on a main road and there’s not really anything else around.
“I think its success is due to the simple food, which is cheap, but it’s in a nice setting and has a bit of character which makes it that bit different from other cafes.”
A HAVEN OF QUALITY
The Haven has drawn praise not just from its customers, but Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart,pictured.
He said: “I would like to congratulate the cafe for performing so well. They have obviously found the right formula for their customers.
“It doesn’t matter what style you are doing, the important thing is that you are doing it well.
“Different places offer different menus and levels of service. The important thing is to always remember that you are cooking for your customers and that you should always make them happy.”
Among the comments left by customers on Trip Advisor, one said: “We had been in Edinburgh for the weekend and needed a place for a big breakfast to set us up for the day.
“The Haven surpassed itself. Great food and quick, friendly service at a decent price. We’ll be back again.”
Another added: “Amazing is the word for this cafe – the people working there, the food, the price – great!
“I was very satisfied about the service, always smiling and willing to please you. I definitely recommend this place to enjoy a good and relaxing time.”