What better place to review during Christmas than the world-famous Dome? Impossible to miss for it’s pompous decorations with thousands of lights, tinsel and two huge sparkling trees – in the Garden Café and at the main Grill Room opposite the door, year on year it attracts more amateur photographers and growing queues of curious customers; and no wonder, as the cinnamon-scented (intensely) venue is not only stunning to look at – one’s sole presence inside, the décor and the service make for a luxurious experience without the premium prices.
I’ve visited The Dome every festive period since arriving to Edinburgh, so it was justified to have high expectations; despite my previous experiences, however, I did not expect those queues that awaited me and my friend at the door to all Dome’s dining rooms.
To increase our chances of finding a table for a wee afternoon-tea we made our way through the crowds straight to the Afternoon Tea room upstairs – only to learn that we would have to wait up to an hour to get seated. Fair enough, I thought, it was Saturday early afternoon after all, and was ready to go and look for a quieter spot, but my companion would have nothing of that; she stubbornly insisted that the experience will justify the wait. So we waited.
After about 45 minutes we finally got a seat, and felt our spirits lift as the place started working its magic again. My companion knew straight away she’d order a sticky toffee pudding – to complete this special moment – and a tea to wash it down; I stuck to my mocha, as it was served with a mini mince pie – a yearly tradition indeed.
Surprisingly, the pudding was served first, but the drinks followed shortly after; or maybe not so surprising if you think about the number of people that was being served at the same time – after all, in the Afternoon Tea room drinks would form the majority of orders. Sticky Toffee looked great, but the sight of my mocha worried me a lot. It seemed watery and had an unhealthy light-brown colour; the foam on top looked shiny and fragile like that from a washing liquid and added to my concerns, which were confirmed after the first sip. It was bland and nearly tasteless if omitting the bitterness of cheap or weak coffee. I immediately added sugar, which, as ever, made it even worse. Thank goodness for that mince pie… and the one my friend was served with her tea, which she happily shared with me; thanks to those, I managed to get through most of my coffee, but that wasn’t enough to recover my trust in The Dome.
Whether my taste buds have changed as a consequence of becoming a mocha addict or whether the quality suffered due to the level of business, I do not know, but I feel heartbroken having to give The Dome a low mark for the beverage this time. Nevertheless, visiting this place, for a drink or food, is a must when you’re in Edinburgh and overall is – and will always be – a great experience.
Mind the weekends, however.
Verdict justification: The place, the atmosphere, the whole experience – brilliant; what a shame for the poor coffee!