The Elephant House (and Harry Potter)

Everybody in Edinburgh seems to know about The Elephant House.

Then again, how can they not?

It is home to arguably the most popular global phenomenon in literature ever: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, even going so far as to proudly brandish a sign on its facade: the Birthplace of Harry Potter. Backtrack a decade or so, and you can imagine Rowling spending hours in this little place, nursing a cup of coffee, weaving the dense magical realms of the world that is Harry Potter under the scratch of her pen while looking out at the Edinburgh Castle through the window.

Edinburgh castle on a rainy day.

It feels really cosy to be inside on a cold day like this.

Of course, as an ardent Harry Potter fan, that illusion is perhaps 90 per cent made up of my own romanticisation of Rowling’s writing experience.

Articles on the noticeboard devoted to Rowling, the cafe, as well as elephants.

While I really loved the interior of the place, with the decoration and the desserts all dedicated to the elephant theme…

Elephant motifs on the wall

(Scottish) Elephant shortbread

The food, while decent enough to make a satisfying lunch, doesn’t quite live up to the fame of the cafe.Or perhaps, the focus on marketing the little cafe as the home of a massive international phenomenon has titled the balance somewhat over the years, leading to a focus on style over substance.

This is what we had for lunch on our first day in Edinburgh:

Mocha. Really liked how it looked but in terms of sweetness/aroma, it was slightly lacking.

Onion and vegetable quiche

Chili Corn Carne, served with an interesting mix of red beans. As with all the rest of the food, it really wasn’t too bad at all, but it didn’t particularly stand out as well.

I had a hard time deciding whether I should even be writing about this here at all. Still, I really loved the atmosphere and the location of a place, and touristy it may be, I guess I was still inexplicably drawn to it just because of its (somewhat over-hyped and mystified) origins. Go if…you are a true Harry Potter fan, and still want to pay a devotional visit to where it all first began (:

elephants & bagels
32 Marshall Street, Edinburgh
Tel. 0131-668-440



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