Restaurant review: Café Milk, Edinburgh

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Three meals a day aren't sufficient. After all, we're barely conscious when we eat the first, and the next is often inhaled al-desko, with one hand still clicking a mouse.

For this reason I'd like to lobby for four, with the extra feed washed down by coffee, and preferably comprising of at least one of the major food groups - brownies, gypsy creams or iced buns. We'll call it tea time.

I think others feel the same, which may be why there appears to be a caf revolution in the Capital. They're popping up everywhere, including Morrison Street, which used to be notable mainly for Diane's Pool Hall and a fancy dress shop that, before its demise, had a past-its-peak Ali G costume in the window.

Now you'll find Caf Milk, which not only serves gateaux, but snackage that falls under their manifesto of "delicious, nutritious fast food at affordable, everyday prices". In fact, those last three words should be in bold script, as this place serves doorstopper sandwiches at under 3 to sit in (with fillings such as harissa chicken, with roast garlic dressing, 2.60).

The trendy low-fi decor consists of swimming-bath-style white tiling, refectory seating, and knives and forks housed in empty Lyle's Golden Syrup tins.

My boyfriend Rolf, sister Louisa and I pulled up a couple of their reclaimed pews and ordered almost everything on the concise menu. Well, it's cheap, and us fatties have been getting by on a meagre three meals a day.

My other half kicked off proceedings with a minestrone soup (2), a burly beast of a broth, with sweet tomato, nibs of barley, onions, celery, and three fat crunchy croutons that were topped with rosemary and Mull cheddar. The portion wasn't enormous, but it was hearty enough that this didn't matter.

He then moved onto a main of Goan spiced dahl (4.10). This, like all Caf Milk's hot dishes, comes with a choice of either rice or flatbread (he went for the latter) and a generous heap of mayonnaise-free coleslaw, which consisted of crispy strips of red and white cabbage, red onion and carrot. The lentil element of this offering was subtly spiced, with a measured chilli kick, and had been cooked in a light stock that was dotted with cubes of soft carrot.

My option, the chicken, chorizo and pinto bean stew (4.45), was just as simple, with a turmeric-flavoured tomato base, a topping of chives and coriander and a decent amount of all the billed ingredients. It wasn't the most thrilling dish, but the common denominator of this place's food seems to be that it's vibrant and semi-healthy. And, although I didn't think that the accompanying flat bread tasted particularly homemade, you can't have everything at pocket money prices.

As someone who likes sugary savouries, I was a fan of junior's Thai green chicken curry (4.45), which came with a side portion of wild and basmati rice. This dish was a matronly hug on a plate, as it was breathy with the comforting flavours of cardamon and coconut milk. Not terribly authentic, I know, but I could have downed that sauce like a milkshake.

On the side, we shared a shrubbery-sized portion of crunchy Indian slaw (2.75). This was pretty much the same coleslaw as we'd all eaten already, but with a simple lemony dressing and additional chickpeas, pumpkin and sesame seeds, plus a blob of pear chutney on the side.

We also had another side salad: the chorizo, puy lentil and goats cheese (3.50), which was fab, with a big blob of the lentil mixture that Rolf had already experienced as part of his main course, plus shreds of piquant white cheese and discs of a paprika-spiked sauce.

"How could you eat any more?" you might ask at this point in proceedings. Because gannets like us make sure that we're always sporting roomy trousers.

We ordered a slice of the chocolate mocha cake (1.70) and a lemon drizzle version (1.70), plus a cappuccino (1.90) each, to put a full stop to our troughing. The former sweet was fantastic, with a thick layer of smooth and squishy icing that coated the roof of the mouth. The second treat was a little dry towards the outskirts, but soft and citrusy in the middle.

I've regularly had worse cakes, and much smaller portions, for double the price. For that reason, I shall fit in a visit to Caf Milk whenever I need a fourth meal. You may find me here often.

Caf Milk

232 Morrison Street, Edinburgh (0131-629 6022, www.cafemilk.co.uk)

How much?

Food for three, excluding drinks, 30.35

• This article was first published in The Scotsman on March 12, 2011