Monthly Archives: September 2012

Urban Angel

This was the first coffee shop I visited after my trip to Rome, so it’s fair to say that I was sceptical about wherever I’d go and whatever I’d have to drink. Thankfully, I did not have to make the first choice, as this was a semi-business meeting and I was invited to the quiet shop on Forth Street; and since my ‘business partner’ is a follower of this site, it was a sort of a duty to order a mocha. I ended up having two – it was a long meeting.

But let me give you some background to explain why, if it was for me, I would not have been visiting Urban Angel that afternoon. I had been to their Hanover Street shop twice before, both times for breakfast. The scrambled eggs with salmon I had on the first occasion were amazing, and therefore I was looking forward to my next visit; but the French toast with bacon, swimming in maple syrup, left me feeling rather sick and discouraged me from any future visits – although the place itself and the staff were welcoming.

Soy Mocha at Urban Angel

A slightly different case with the Forth Street store: the two baristas seemed uninterested and although we were working away in our corner, I felt like an intruder in the virtually empty shop. It also took them forever to make a mocha and a cappucino. No friendly smiles, signature to the Hanover Street store – but that might be due to actual boredom and lack of other customers.

Now, as for the coffee, it’s a tough one to judge: the first of my mochas was made with soy milk, and although it looked lovely and the texture was OK it also had a slightly bitter taste to it, which spoiled it significantly. However, for the second cup I asked for regular milk – judging by the sweetness and the consistency of the coffee, I figured it was whole milk, but I might be wrong – and it was much tastier and smoother. This was a sort of a revelation to me: could it be that soy milk affects the taste of the coffee to such a degree? I remembered the soy mocha I had at Blackwood and how different it was to its sister cafes like Project Coffee or Kilimanjaro, where the coffee was made with regular milk…

This might be another breakthrough in my quest and can potentially affect my future judgement. But as for Urban Angel, I can’t make my mind up whether I’d recommend it or not. It’s (generally) good food and good coffee; but the service can be a hit-and-miss… and I’m glad I wasn’t paying last time, because it definitely isn’t cheap.

Judge it for yourselves!

Mocha: £3.20 (+20p for soy milk)

Verdict justification: The regular coffee (as opposed to soy option) was lovely, but the staff was not the most inviting

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Caffe Capitolino

Last but not least, the cafeteria of Musei Capitolini did not feature on the list of the best cafes in Rome and was not suggested to me by anyone as a place to visit – it was simply a logical destination after a day of walking and sightseeing and specifically two hours of finding my way around the maze of the Capitolini museums whilst admiring thousands of the most beautiful sculptures from the ancient era. I was starving.

It was not easy to find the only place that served food there, as the direct corridor leading to the cafe from where I landed at the end of my tour was closed for renovation and I had to find a lift in another wing to take me there, which was not at all straightforward. When I finally got there, I was slightly put off, not feeling dressed properly for the quality of service, represented by the waiters – dressed in banquet uniforms. The place was very bright and quiet, and there were hardly any people there and I was worried they were about to close; but thankfully, they weren’t. Also I breathed more easily when I saw their selection of food: simple panini and salads, which normally would probably pose a disappointing choice, but at the time when I was too tired to think, a tuna sandwich was just what I needed.

Coffee was a more challenging choice – yes, this time I considered something more thrilling than an espresso or a marocchino. The menu adapted to the international clientèle and therefore was quite extensive; but the Caffe Capitolino caught my eye straight away, and my sixth sense must have kicked in, as when I asked what was in the coffee, the answer was: chocolate… I didn’t let the cashier finish speaking when I exclaimed, smiling : “I’ll have that!”

The view from the Caffe Capitolino terrace

Despite the averageness of the ‘meal’, the coffee looked extraordinary in a cocktail-type stem glass. And to add to the experience, there was the view from the balcony where I was sat: absolutely stunning! It was a good enough reason on its own to pay the fee at the museum door – as if all the beautiful art that it contained wasn’t. The panino was maybe not glamorous but it was tasty; and the coffee? Divine. I did give in to the whipped cream because I thought I had deserved it, but it didn’t spoil the rest of the beverage: quite frankly, it was a marocchino, with slightly more chocolate in it than others that I had tasted.

Now, because one of the baristas saw me take a photo of it, he asked me to return to the bar after I had finished to try “the best cappucino in Rome” – and despite being quite full after my late lunch, I couldn’t say ‘no’ to such an offer! I couldn’t also objectively assess the claim, as I hadn’t tried a cappucino anywhere else in the city (although I would have had if Sciascia had been open when I tried to visit…!); but I can safely say it is worth recommending. Smooth and creamy like a flat white, but lighter; with the added sweetness of a Roman-barista charm.

Cappucino at Caffe Capitolino

All in all, Rome proved to provide an unforgettable mix of catharsis through art and indulgence through its coffee-culture; a mix that has raised the bar for any prospectus coffee-tasting experience. And it was perfectly encompassed on the terrace of Musei Capitolini, with the view overlooking the most stunning city I have visited so far.

But the quest continues… (the cafe page only in Italian)

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