It is common to see empty or bill-posted shop fronts pretty much everywhere these days and Leith is no different. So, it is heartening to see places being revamped and doors reopening.

After a couple of months of floor-stripping, refitting and exterior painting, which most natives will have noticed on their perambulations up and down Bernard Street, the café Marmalade has finally opened it’s doors.

The café maybe a new venture but owner Bobby-Jo is not new to the business of food, or indeed the area, as the parent of Marmalade is none other than her established corporate catering company Tickety-Boo round the corner on Maritime Street. With over twenty years experience under her belt Bobby-Jo decided to give her food a more public outlet. “Not only corporate people like good food, but local people do too,” she says in passing. As she whizzes in and out of the café from one business to the other, she displays an almost zealous energy in her mission to feed the local populace.

Upon her exit, the café is left in the capable, friendly hands of her staff – which constituted the attentive Carolyn and Rachel upon my first visit there. The girls were chatty, without being overbearing or forced, paid attention to the details of what I desired in a cup of coffee, (not that I’m fussy or anything) and helpful. The homebakes were head-turning, much to my consternation and it was a struggle to allow myself just a scone with jam, as the calorific spread was of the guilt-laden variety with gleaming jam-tarts, sweet roulades and a cake-lovers’ dream in general. The Americano coffee was gorgeous, almost strong enough to put hairs on one’s chest without a hint of bitterness and the scone, moist and fruity.

Marmalade boasts the obligatory design-your-own sandwich bar, along with ready to eat sandwiches, boxed salads and soft drinks along with a daily changed special board of Bobby-Jo’s handiwork with pieces of chicken quiche that were not under 4 inches thick, sea food and meat risotto, macaroni, crumbed chicken and Spanish style stuffed aubergines. Indeed, a number of the dishes and deli/sandwich fillers boasted a Mediterranean theme and all at prices that are easily comparable or lower in price to other local cafés and bars.

Bobby-Jo has not stuffed the place with tables and chairs and feels spacious and relaxed. Obviously, the café has just been revamped and is fresh and clean, but the dark wooden tables and chairs are deceptively comfortable. There is room to move in Marmalade, room for your (and a companion’s) plate of food and room to sit back, enjoy a lovely cup of coffee and have a blether without the entire place managing to eavesdrop, or jostle your table in the passing.

The girls are also planning a Twitter page, so you can find out the daily specials before you embark on your lunchtime scramble to find sustenance.  Alternatively, just amble in for a cake and a coffee.

Needless to say, I’ll be back…