Seventy One Steps, Edinburgh

The Bearded Baker's brand-new spot blends Scandi style and brilliant bagel-first brunches

Feature by Peter Simpson | 29 Apr 2024
  • Seventy One Steps

One, two, three… You join us as we amble into Canonmills, past the Bearded Baker. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen… The BB team has just opened a new brunch place down the street, so we’re off to try it out. Thirty, thirty-one… It’s called Seventy One Steps because the two spots are, well, y’know. Fifty-six, fifty-seven… If they’re gonna put it in the name, we’re going to double-check.

Yes, Seventy One Steps is somewhere between 69 and 75 steps down the road from the original Bearded Baker, on the bright side of Rodney Place. On a sunny Saturday morning we’re in the window seat, basking like a pair of oversized cats in flannel shirts. It’s a fittingly sunny vibe inside; this is a cool one-room space in which every surface seems to be covered in a differently sliced piece of plywood.

There’s jigsaw-like motifs on the coffee bar, a muted Scandi-style colour palette, and enormous fluted glass doors through to the kitchen at the back. The coffee, made with beans from Leith’s own Williams and Johnson, is excellent, and food-wise it’s a simple menu of open-faced and filled bagels.

Exterior photograph of Seventy One Steps. A cafe in the ground floor of a tenement building; the exterior is painted in terracota, with blue and yellow decals on the windows.

Now, there’s an urban myth that one bagel has the same amount of calories as five slices of bread. Or is it eight slices? Maybe it’s two or three slices. Anyway, there’s a large amount of misinformation about the heft of the average bagel, but it isn’t until you sit down with a good one that you realise why. These boys are doing the work of many, many slices – a great snap on the edges, an excellent chew, and robust enough to withstand whatever the kitchen throws at them.

A good example is our Reuben (£10.50), which manages to be hench without looking silly. It looks, in the best way, like a sandwich from a cartoon, with the emmental drooping over the sides and a big distinct layer of pastrami in the centre. That pastrami is extremely peppery, the sauerkraut gives the whole thing a nice astringent funkiness, and it has some seriously impressive staying power (in that it doesn’t fall apart at the first sign of moisture).

On the other hand, the open bagel with smashed peas with goat's cheese and Korean chilli flakes (£11) comes out in full attack mode. You have the choice of peas or avocado, and while we could say, ‘Get the peas, they’re more local and seasonal, how you gonna grow an avocado in Canonmills in April?’ etc, instead we’ll say to get the peas because they’re great. They’re extremely well-seasoned and balanced, but with plenty of their natural sweetness and freshness. They’re topped with an incredibly funky cheese, a sprinkling of red onion, and a surprisingly aggressive level of chilli flake. Savoury, salty, spicy and one of your five-a-day, all on top of a bagel that’s soft, pillowy, and able to withstand any number of attempts on its structural integrity. 

On the sweet side, our frangipane bun (£3.50) is also great. It’s light, it’s extremely tall, and while it might be ever-so-slightly underbaked it makes up for it with ludicrous levels of almond filling. Comical amounts of almond paste. Obscene, but delightful.

Seventy One Steps has all the visual cues of a great brunch place, but behind that fluted glass, the kitchen are doing some exciting and unexpected things. Exciting, chilled-out, relaxed, vibrant – Seventy One Steps is well worth the walk, regardless of your starting point. 

22 Rodney St, Edinburgh, EH7 4EA
Open daily, 10am-4pm