“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.
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!
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)