Monthly Archives: August 2013

Curious Tea Rooms

An impromptu visit to Edinburgh was not only a great occasion to catch up with friends but also – with the livelier than ever local coffee scene. I didn’t think it possible, but new cafes appeared in the capital in the good few months that I’d been away, and I hardly got a chance to scratch the surface of the newcomers’ elite. But the proximity to the town centre is always a welcome bonus that makes it more likely for a busy traveller to take a break at a food establishment – and Curious Tea Rooms checked that box.

Mocha at Curious Tea Rooms

Mocha at Curious Tea Rooms

Quite frankly, on that Saturday brunch-time I was not so keen on a place portraying itself as a tea shop – my Festival hangover needed curing with some decent savoury food and by the modest outdoor looks of this new Fredrick Street eatery I very much doubted that my needs would be satisfied. And yet, I was wrong! I learnt that as soon as I stepped through the door which felt a bit like falling down a rabbit hole into a parallel world – the place was styled in an Alice in Wonderland theme: from leafy 3D wallpaper, through wonky cake displays to a table and chair set hanging from the ceiling.

They didn’t, indeed, serve cooked breakfast, which I was most keen on, but their extensive tea menu also featured a few pages of sandwiches, paninis and salads, including a sundried tomato and chorizo stromboli which me and my host of the weekend opted for.

The flatbread was tasty and nicely presented, if not too big for me to consume in one go (the other half made for a great late-lunch, however). I had made the mistake of drinking before eating too many times berfore, and that’s why I waited with ordering my coffee after I decided I had enough of my sandwich.

And again I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all the coffees a coffee-lover might need are there, before the long list of leafy teas. I ordered my mocha while watching my friend pour herself a dainty cup of green tea through a little sif. When the coffee arrived, my smile widened: it looked as tasty as the offerings of Wellington Coffee and the likes.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing – but it wasn’t far off either. Firstly, the temperature was just a bit too high for comfortable drinking – and since it was a fairly small cup, it should have been a quick-sip brew. Secondly, it wasn’t as sweet as I’d like until half-way through; but, as my friend kindly pointed out “you should have stirred it” – she might have had a point there, and yet, it a perfect brew does not require any adjustments.

Apart from that, the texture was pleasant and the overall feel was very enjoyable. Although having skipped the second half of my flatbread, I was very tempted to go for one of their tasty looking cakes.

Maybe next time.

Mocha: £2.40

Verdict justification: Some minuses on the preparation side, but a lovely eating and admiring experience overall.

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full star

I always thought that one of the blissful things about an office Monday to Friday job are the weekends off – the time when you can finally unwind and do all the things you couldn’t fit into your workday schedule. In my case it doesn’t work that way, however.

It seems that my Saturdays and Sundays are packed with extracurricular activities – mainly nourishing my body and mind, such as gym sessions or French lessons – and then, the weekend ends without me being able to watch that movie that’s been waiting on the shelf for weeks, or, yes – visiting a cafe.

I have, however, managed to fit one such visit in this month, and, hallelujah!, it was the right choice – recommended, oh irony, by my office workmate. I had only raised my worry on a Friday afternoon before finishing my last shift that week to get an instant reply: go to Musa. It was pretty much up my street and on my way into town that following Saturday, and since I had got myself up too early that day to do some boxercise, I figured I had no excuse to having a little bit of indulgence.

Mocha at Musa

Mocha at Musa

When I entered, I was a bit mesmerised by the art decor (quite literally as the place also serves as a gallery) that gave it a posh feel. The place was packed too, and I thought I wouldn’t actually have the chance to taste their, apparently, exquisite coffee myself – but the front of house did not make any issues of giving me one of the two remaining tables; unfortunately it was just by the door, so I felt rather exposed and guilty to be taking a 4-seater all to myself and my single cup of coffee.

The serving time for my mocha was reasonably good for the level of business, and the waitresses’ up-beat attitude in those rather manic surroundings, having to serve large plates of food over two floors, made up for the wait. So did the presentation of my coffee which simply promised a good brew. And such it was.

The balance between espresso and chocolate was ideal, the creaminess – very pleasant on the tongue; it actually felt like every sip melted delicately on the tongue. I loved it. Plus, the biscuit on the side, and the fancy jug of water that was delivered when I asked for a glass of tap, complemented the experience.

I have to give it back to my workmate – this was a great recommendation, one I would share myself. And if an opportunity arises, I would also happily try their food on one of their music nights. Sounds like a good weekend plan, no?

Mocha: £3.20

Verdict justification: Great coffee, pleasant staff, nice atmosphere and an art gallery/music venue in one. What’s not to like?

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