Abandon hope all ye slimmers that enter here

Rowena Smith © The Herald, 24 January 2008

January: New Year's resolutions and all that. Well, on the off-chance that you've managed to stick to that diet, you'd probably be well advised to steer well clear of Gullane in the near future. For it is here, in this sleepy, well-heeled seaside village in East Lothian that Konditormeister (that's a German master baker) Falko Burkert has opened his latest bakery-come-cafe.

The idea for the venture began a couple of years back when Burkert and his business partner Robert Linton started selling bread and all kinds of (mostly) baked German goods on a stall at the farmers' market in Edinburgh.

Business flourished as the good burghers were seduced by the lure of various unusual breads (rye, fennel-seed, pumpkin - not a loaf of sliced white in sight), pretzels, brioche, frangipane tarts and pastries to die for.

Next up, the pair opened a shop in Bruntsfield, beautifully done-up as an old-style bakery and with a couple of tables where you could enjoy a coffee and a slice of some of the amazing cake confections displayed in the chill cabinet - if you were lucky enough to get a seat. Awards were won and word about the bakery spread, by which time Falko could probably have sold twice what his team was producing - except that they didn't have the capacity to do so.

Last year they found what they were looking for: an old bakery on the main street of Gullane. Not only has the latest acquisition of the burgeoning Falko empire made for increased production, it has also enabled the opening of a proper coffee shop on the premises - a place that is well worth the jaunt from central Edinburgh (or anywhere else for that matter).

A couple of tips should you decide to make this pilgrimage for German and Austrian baked goods: make sure it isn't a Monday, since that's the day the shop is shut. Also for this reason, if you want the best selection of cakes, it's best not to go on Tuesday morning, either. And, as previously mentioned, leave the diet at home.

After that, the only problem is deciding what to have. Spanish almond torte? Pear and sour cream cake? On this particular occasion, a trip made purely for "research" purposes with a very understanding friend, we went for a couple of Konditorei classics: Linzertorte and the rich chocolate Sachertorte.

The former was particularly heavenly: rich, spiced short-crust pastry filled with a thick layer of gooey raspberry jam. Washed down with a couple of sinful Viennese-style hot chocolates? Natürlich. After all, if you're feeling guilty there are plenty of coastal walks nearby on which you can work off some of those calories.

1 Stanley Road, Gullane, East Lothian, 01620 843 168
Style: Chic cafe
Food: Cakes, cakes and more cakes
Price: About £10 for coffee and cake for two
Wheelchair access: Yes

Publication Name: