Monthly Archives: June 2012

Loudons Cafe and Bakery

I very rarely visit the Edinburgh Quay area, but whenever I happen to go down Fountainbridge, there are a few venues that catch my eye every single time. Since I was heading for a meeting in Cargo (which positively surprised me, on the contrary to the comments I heard about it), with a half an hour to spare, I decided to visit the cafe that I had seen across the street from there; but when I got there, I was taken by surprise: there where two cafe’s, side-to-side. This was a tough decission: both glass-walled, both looking cool and stylish, and both full of people – which was a good sign. I compared the names of both and eventually opted for Loudons, calling itself a “bakery” as opposed to Cuthbert’s Coffee classifying itself as a “bistro” (which proves that wording does make a difference).

Soy Mocha at Loudons Cafe and Bakery

The inside resembled Peter’s Yard: a huge, open-space venue with a self-service table by the entrance (scones, cakes, sandwiches…), a wide, kitchen-pass-like counter, and plenty of tables and chairs scattered around the place. The guy behind the counter seemed very cool and relaxed; the barista making coffees little less so, although, by the look of some latte art, he definitely wasn’t a novice, which made me think he was either stressed or foreign (without sounding racist, I hope!). I ordered and paid and took a seat, feeling a bit exposed in these surroundings, although they were probably more to my liking than some tiny, cramped cafe with the capacity for five.

It was a big cup of coffee, which would explain the price (not as shocking as at the Yard though); but, it didn’t impress beyond the size. There was a thick layer of foam on top which I was still spooning out half-way through the drink; it also lacked flavour, apart from the distinctive soya milk, which I asked for. I was tempted to add sugar, as it wasn’t either very chocolatey or coffee-ish, but I thought that finishing the whole thing was bad enough for my diet (and sugar would probably not aid the coffee much either).

In the end, I did regret not choosing the neighbouring place, and although I quite liked the stylish interior and some of the food on offer, I won’t be bringing my friends along here. So far, out of the bakeries that I have visited, only the German one didn’t disappoint.

Mocha: 2,95

Verdict justification: A big cup of not very impressive coffee. OK but nothing to go crazy about.

Categories: Cafes, Edinburgh, Local | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patisserie Valerie

“Aleks, are you still doing your cafe reviews?” I was asked the other day by my friend.

“Yes…” I replied with a sigh. I have been neglecting my duty since I came back from my holiday last week. First of all, I had tons of work to catch up with. Secondly, after having a mocha at Millie’s Cookies at Waverley train station as a breakfast substitute I felt somewhat put off any chocolate-based drinks – it was simply too sweet! I like to think that my taste buds have adapted to a more sophisticated coffee types after my Spanish adventures; but rest assured that after a few weeks in Scotland I will be back to my old ways, craving sugar – and lots of it.

“I was walking down North Bridge and I passed this new coffee place. I think you might like it,” my friend said. So we agreed that we should check it out together.

Patisserie Valerie must have opened in the last couple of weeks, as it is impossible to miss it on your way between the New and Old Towns, and it’s the first time I saw it. It was lush on the outside, with beautifully shaped, finished and presented cakes on a shiny display, but even more so on the inside; more like a uptown restaurant than a cake shop, the place it was elegantly furnished and decorated and, what’s more impressive, it was full of waiters and waitresses in white, ironed shirts and ties. It reminded me of Pijalnia Czekolady Wedel, where you felt that the cake and coffee you were served were made for a royal.

After faffing about choosing the seats (my bad, really) we made our choice out of the wide variety of tortes, tarts and pastries – with the little knowledge that I have on French bakery I cannot say whether they were original by taste or only by name, but the magic of the place was spoiled a bit upon realising that those smart-looking staff were all British.

Mocha at Patisserie Valerie

I ended up ordering an apple Danish as their croissants seemed to lack the ruffled texture of a French pastry; of course that was accompanied by a mocha. My friend ordered a Berry Fruit tart and a cappuccino. When her cake arrived I started regretting that I hadn’t asked for the same thing, or better, a walnut tart as both looked absolutely divine; but having tasted my Danish I was quite content with the texture and the balance of flavours.

Now, onto the coffees. When they arrived I was a bit confused. The cappuccino looked more like a mocha and the mocha… just looked bland. I was rather skeptical taking my first sip from the big, but not filled to the rim cup, and was quite surprised to find out that the coffee was actually very tasty. There was no foam on top and the whole drink had an even texture throughout: not too heavy or powdery (cocoa residue) on the tongue. It was pleasantly sweet, although I think I could identify Cadburry’s Chocolate there (it seems Cadburry’s always saves the day…), but if it works, why make a problem out of it? In the meantime, the cappuccino turned out to be a latte, but my friend enjoyed it equally nevertheless.

Considering that this was a lunchtime randez-vous on a sunny afternoon, we left in good spirits, although my friend wasn’t very keen of the waiter who tried to speak Polish to us (which I actually found rather cute – and I never even use that word!). We both agreed we would happily return again, although an issue stopping me from going regularly would probably be the pricing, at least for sitting in. Although the coffee is priced reasonably considering the size of the beverages, a sweeter treat means a bitter aftertaste in the wallet, with an example of mini-macaroons going for £1.00 each – and they really are tiny. On the other hand, it could surely teach one to appreciate and savour the little things in life. So if you’re after a little bit of luxury during a trip into town, Patisserie Valerie is the place to go to – if you can find any free seats!

Mocha: £2.90

Verdict justification: Tasty coffee (but not the best I’ve had), lovely decor and very polite and attentive staff (they even pull out the chair for you to sit down); downsides are the prices of cakes and the lack of music (which I didn’t notice personally, to be frank)

Categories: Chains, Edinburgh | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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