Monthly Archives: June 2013

Di Maggio’s

Visited at Bon Accord Shopping Centre, Aberdeen

With a very special occasion in sight – my best friend getting married with me proudly serving as her maid of honour – I have been really trying to be good, keep off sweets and milky coffee, and only allow myself a daily dose of not-too-pleasant-but-still-caffeine offering from my work canteen. However, that weekend I had been wandering around for hours looking for a dress and accessories and was desperate for something special for the belly. I usually try to stay away from the shopping centres’ food malls, but that Sunday I hit a brick wall and decided I wouldn’t visit another shop before grabbing a coffee.

I was actually going to settle down for an M&S café, but then spotted Di Maggio’s – thought it was a good idea to give it a go, since I hadn’t heard of the place before.

Latte (and apple pie) at Di Maggio's

Latte (and apple pie) at Di Maggio’s

It was a typical high street/shopping centre chain, Italian-branded but with none of the staff looking remotely Italian; I didn’t expect anything different, although I did have that small hope for a bit of Italian charm. That hope disappeared when I placed myself in a queue where other customers were waiting with trays in hand and orders were taken in advance down the line by another staff member to keep the customers from dropping out.

In my mind I had already allowed myself a sweet treat after I noticed the afternoon offer: cake and coffee for £3.49. I had also instantly decided on the amaretto cheesecake, the second I saw it on the sweets menu – but had to make do with an apple pie, because a cheesecake was nowhere to be seen. Disappointment aside, at least my conscience was slightly recuperated when I just ate the apple mix and left the pastry out – nothing wrong with it, just carbs.

As for the coffee, the choice was harder – I was not keen on a sweet mocha, and was considering a cappuccino, solely because I was, after all, at an Italian café… but I dreaded the prospect of a dry, frothy concoction and decided to go for a safer latte. Safer – maybe, but probably not tastier. It was too hot, too milky, not at all punchy – and not presented in a typical Italian layered manner, but that was out of the question from the start.

I did gain two things from this visit, however: I did have a bit more energy to continue with my shopping (which ended a success, eventually) and I arrived to the very firm conclusion that shopping centre chain coffee shops are to be stayed away from, definitely, with no exceptions.

Latte: £2.75

Verdict justification: The staff was a hit and miss (one pleasant, one not so much), the food average, the coffee not worth the hassle. Not an afternoon-tea (or coffee) place.

Categories: Cafes, Chains | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Victoria Restaurant

Victoria Restaurant had been recommended to me as a “traditional-style” venue; and that part didn’t disappoint. After finding my way up (staircase between a jewellers and a clothes shop) I found myself in a gallery/store selling decorative serverware and shiny memorabilia, which led the way to the café, to its left. Upon entering I was greeted by a glass display-trolley filled with a variety of cakes – a pleasant start, I had to admit. Next, I took in the surroundings: it was an open-space room in a simple vintage décor, partly occupied by elderly couples, but feeling mostly empty. It was only 3pm on a Friday… which is, however, the right time for an Afternoon Tea, I guess? Some of the customers did enjoy three-level platters overflowing with finger sandwitches, dainty pastries and scones, accompanied by an Elizabethan tea set.

Cappucino at The Victoria Restaurant

Cappucino at The Victoria Restaurant

I was attended shortly after taking my seat, and presented with the cake trolley when expressed my interest in the day’s bakes. There was an impressive variety of scones available, and I opted for the one I considered least naughty – apple and cinnamon, lured by its healthy “bran” colour (which was in fact, of course, the cinnamon). They did not serve mochas, so I had to choose between their filter, caffetiere or “strong continental style” cappuccino. I decided strong coffee was what I needed… but that’s where I was in for an unpleasant surprise.

The cappuccino was definitely not strong – mild, at its best. It was also too hot and milk was not as frothy and smooth as it should be. I did like the presentation – but nothing else. It only worked fairly well to wash down the scone – which was also very nicely presented with a little pot of jam and some slices of butter on the side.

I suppose Victoria has some vintage charm about it for its target clientele, who, I assume, is the older generation. As I think about it, it reminds me a bit Valvona & Crolla, although I’d say the latter had slightly more style and warmth to it. Although Victoria’s staff was pleasant enough, they did not create a welcoming atmosphere, I regret to say. Then again, most of the customers around me seemed only interested in their own business and not really keen on a chat with a stranger…

And I have to say, that Afternoon Tea did look rather tempting…

Cappucino: £2.15

Verdict justification: The theme seems to complement their impressive looking Afternoon Tea, yet the place feels a bit cold and soulless – and the coffee, albeit its temperature, does not make it any better

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Local, UK | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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