A miracle on Salamander Street, so it seems, but Bam’s success is no doubt due to hard work and diligence, not Divine intervention.
I’m pleasantly surprised. I lived around the corner on Elbe Street for years, and I lived there before there was a corner. I watched while they built the vast block of flats that Bam Coffee now lives beneath.
I know it’s a tough spot. You can barely get more “Edge of Edinburgh” than Salamander Street; the Forth is just across the way. So while many people drive past, they don’t stop, and few people walk past.
The new flats, I guess, deposited a few hundred people right there. Also, the lockdown happened. On many levels, the lockdown must have been terrifying for Bam, but it also forced locals to shop locally.
“Hey, this is pretty good!” I can almost hear the residents of the nearby buildings discovering Bam together.
And a lot more homes are being built across the road. I hope the future is bright.
Bam the takeaway
My initial experience with Bam was to get a takeaway. Tasty but fashionably petite – as you’d get in a boutique coffee bar.
It’s easy, step through the decorated doorway, past a few outdoor tables, and the counter is right there. When it’s been busy, they’ve made us wait outside, which is the right and reassuring thing to do during the pandemic.
There’s also baked goodies! My weakness. My nemesis! The bakery options are a bit more flash than croissants and muffins. I’ve had fruit tarts and exciting looking curled pastries. Sorry, can’t tell you what they were, they looked interesting, and I ordered by pointing. That’s one of the drawbacks of discovering new places white wearing masks; less banter, more pointing.
Bam the cafe
You don’t have to take your drink and go. There are breakfast, brunch and other menu options.
The cafe doesn’t open particularly late, though. I conclude there’s no “on the way home from work” market left.
Crucially, not every breakfast day is the same. I think the weekend menu is broader, perhaps trying to lure in the more social diner or avoid wasting the food on weekday commuters too busy to stop for it.
I made an effort to walk down early one morning, just to test it out, and I’m pleased I did. My Bamacado Toast was lovely (avocado toast, as I’m sure you’ve figured out) and the coffee perfect with it. If I still lived locally, I’d suggest meetups with friends there before weekend adventures such as a visit to the Farmers Market.
I’ve mentioned already how the cafe takes customer safety strongly enough to sometimes ask for outside queuing.
The cafe also wipes down the tables between visits.
Once, when I was the first (early and only at the time) customer, I was shown to my table before the host remembered to put their mask on. A momentary lapse, which we can all do, and more of a reminder of how rare it was. In contrast, I frequently pass hospitality venues on Leith Walk, Great Junction Street and Ferry Road, and no one ever seems to be masked.
Yes, as Bam is just a wee place, but cleverly presented, I think it’s great for solo dining.
I’ve no problem eating alone, but I imagine it’s easier to do in a cafe with small tables and corners if you don’t like it.
I’ve never had to wait long for service, a common problem with solo dining, and you can get up to pay for a sit-down meal at the counter if you want.
A success and welcome addition to Salamander Street. I think it’ll be beloved of the even newer flats being built across the way.
The catch remains the location. If you don’t live locally, there’s little reason to be on the street. My tip would be for people out in Leith Links with kids, fairs or other events as Bam is just a few minutes walk from there. If you’re holed up in one of the Links’ Beds and Breakfasts or hotels, then Bam is perfect for you.