Monthly Archives: September 2013

Henderson’s of Edinburgh

I remember often walking past Henderson’s shop on my way home from work, curiously glancing at the pots of fresh herbs they had displayed outside for sale (I even recall a small orange tree at some point). I never actually visited the green grocers – or the restaurant downstairs which I hadn’t known it existed. I only learnt about it during my last visit to the city when a couple of great people both suggested that was where we should have a “long-time-no-see”.

One of the reasons why they picked the spot was their own previous experiences – they liked the food and the atmosphere of this somewhat hippy, somewhat arty place, with a huge “pick and mix salad” selection and a large fridge full of home made desserts, on top of an extensive menu of alternative hot dishes served over two floors (one and a half, actually) in Henderson’s cellars, among a variety of paintwork on the walls. The other reason was the recommendation of one of their relatives, who is an artist herself, and enjoys frequenting the venue, particularly on live piano nights.

Mocha and raspberry cheesecake at Henderon's of Edinburgh

Mocha and raspberry cheesecake at Henderon’s of Edinburgh

The place was buzzing when we entered Friday lunchtime and there was a (seemingly never-ending and constantly reassembled) queue by the salad bar/paying counter, but the vast interior still offered a lot of seating place. Having just eaten a posh-nosh lunch at Hadrian’s Brasserie (accompanied by painfully pricey wine), I was just going to make this one a review opportunity, limiting myself to coffee… but it only took one look at the desserts’ section and I was gone. Out of a few sweet treats that stood out for me – like the ample trifle crowned with an abundance of fruit – I had to settle for the raspberry cheesecake. I got to the counter and ordered a mocha with the cashier who looked little interested in the service. As my companions chose their food I realised the place was actually vegetarian – which was quite impressive considering their full-on menus.

We picked a table by a galley window, got ourselves a jug of tap water and tucked in… The cheesecake was wonderful – not at all heavy, with plenty of fruit throughout, it was heaven to my mouth. Unfortunately, the coffee spoilt what could have been a lovely foodie experience. The mocha was bland – it had no flavour either on the coffee or the chocolate side, and only tasted a bit of hot flavoured milk. It had a thin texture and hardly any substance to it. I tried fixing it with some freshly whipped cream from the top of my cheesecake, but that was my mistake – the cream simply melted into the brew leaving huge spots of fat on the surface.

We had not yet finished – one of the two was just ordering tea by the counter – when one of the waitresses cleared our table – together with the half-full jug of water and glasses, without asking if we had finished. I found that rather off-putting, and would have probably minded more if I wasn’t busy chattering away. We stayed there for a while, but only because there was so much to talk about.

It was a lovely afternoon spent with some good people I had been longing to see for a while, so a bad coffee and not-so-great customer service could not spoil it. However, next time I will suggest a different place for a catch-up.

Mocha: tbc

Verdict justification: Tasteless coffee and mediocre service – at least the food makes up for some of it

Categories: Edinburgh, Local | Leave a comment

Cocoa Ooze

Back in Aberdeen and on our way from work to a pub me and my workmate instantly spotted this new chocolate shop on Belmont Street – who wouldn’t? The name suggested a lot of goodness, the workshop advert –  commitment to the product in question, and the menu spotted through the window reassured me they also served coffee – and so I knew this would be the next place I would review.

When I actually visited, I was on my way from the gallery towards the Maritime Museum, so I felt quite arty and spiritually enriched. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was running the risk of spoiling the mood by finding Cocoa Ooze full to bursting, but thankfully as I arrived there were a couple of tables free in this rather spacious venue (as far as coffee shops go).

Mocha at Cocoa Ooze

Mocha at Cocoa Ooze

The place was buzzing – partly because of a number of staff trying to cope with the orders; you could sense the tension through their polite service and some forced smiles – nothing I would hold against them, remembering my Saturdays in the trade. The glasses of hot chocolate that were being served as I walked to the counter looked stunning and I hoped for little less from my mocha. I was tempted to consider a little sweet snack from the adjacent pastry case but stuck to my post-Edinburgh resolutions.

As I waited for my coffee I looked through the menu, which boasted a nice selection of sandwiches and salads, and scanned the surroundings, noting rather expensive cocoa making sets and the fact that the food looked as appetising as the menu suggested. Quickly enough my mocha was served by a trainee-looking barista, who, however, presented great  (personalised) customer service.

I did like the “messy” look of my brew which suggested real chocolate was used for making it (as would be expected); however, there was little more in the cup to name it a mocha coffee. It tasted like hot milk flavoured with some melting pieces of chocolate and no espresso kick whatsoever. Also, my fondness of “side biscuits” served with the coffee was not satisfied as the drink arrived with a side serving of chocolate. Understandable – and yet, a bit too much cocoa ooze for me there.

It is a shame that a place that should specialise in chocolate did not deliver on a chocolate coffee. But if we could eat with our eyes, I think I would be quite content just watching what other people were being served.

Mocha: £2.60

Verdict justification: Nice looking place with some good looking cocoa… but unimpressive coffee

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

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