Monthly Archives: August 2014

Clatterin’ Brig Restaurant

Alas, yet another Saturday afternoon that took me out into the rural Aberdeenshire – and yet another rainy afternoon, after a whole (working) week of sunshine. Coffee was definitely on the cards.

But getting lost among cows and sheep for what felt like hours on the road ended up turning my pursuit of a little guilty pleasure into full-blown hunger, so the search for a coffee shop was upgraded into a hunt for lunch.

And when it seemed those serpentines of Scotland’s north east roads – albeit beautiful even in the rain – would never lead to civilisation, I eventually spotted a sign “Clatterin’ Brig Tea Room and Restaurant” – I was saved!

A climb across a wee bridge and up a hill landed me at an excluded site with stunning views of the countryside: there were hills and valleys, rivers – and cows, of course; and that’s the same view you got from the inside of otherwise average-looking, pensioner-styled middle-of-nowhere spot.

Mocha at Clatterin' Brig Restaurant

Mocha at Clatterin’ Brig Restaurant

The place was spacious with plenty of wooden tables and chairs to choose from; surprisingly, one was occupied by a Spanish family, while there were parties of 4 and 6 and 8 coming and going – who knows where from and where to.

I started with some proper food, although there was little on the menu that I was keen on, so I safely opted for chicken planning to leave enough space after for dessert. Once that duty was ticked off the list, I immersed myself in their separate coffee menu, which I thought was a good sign for my mission – and it did include a mocha.

As I admired the views, my coffee arrived, by which time I had already digested enough chicken to develop a taste for a drink – and paid for it dearly when I sunk my lips in it. The brew was boiling hot! The fact that I had to put the cup down immediately as my fingers started burning painfully spoke for itself. It took me about 15 minutes to get through 1/3 of the cup, and the coffee was still quite hot even then.

As for the taste – when my mouth eventually recovered – it was nothing spectacular. It certainly had a caffeine kick to it, which hit me quite quickly, but because the milk was steamed to a scalding hot temperature, the brew had little actual flavour to it – including any significant hints of chocolate.

Drinking was a struggle, so I left the place with a cup half full, to make up for a full belly. This could have been a mystical rural retreat I would have recommended to other lone north east travellers – if it was just for the sights, and not the coffee!

Mocha: £2.50

Verdict justification: Lovely surroundings, good, attentive service – but little skill demonstrated in making coffee

Claterin Brig, Cairn O Mount Road, Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, AB30 1HB

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88 Degrees Fine Food Emporium

Doing cafe reviews is a perfect excuse to make a seemingly pointless trip to an Angus town worthwhile. So, when for one reason or another, I ended up as part of a road trip to Kirriemuir, I thought I’d do something productive – so I went for coffee.

Although the town offers a few coffee shops to choose from, 88 Degrees was the one recommended by my companions, so that’s where I went with no second thoughts. The name was apparently chosen by its owners because it is the perfect temperature of espresso – which raised hopes of a decent coffee venue.

Mocha at 88 Degrees Fine Food Emporium

Mocha at 88 Degrees Fine Food Emporium

Although not very spacious (a massive table for about a dozen people bang in the middle of the narrow room constrained one’s movements around the place, even with no one sitting beside it), the interior did give a cosy feeling of a local yet quality coffee shop. But ordering was made challenging as one had to move to the back of the room where a pastry case, and entrance to the loo, cut the amount of breathing space by a half; plus the coffee menu next to the counter was printed in a rather small font.

Once I had my bearings, I decided to discriminate against their temptingly sounding white chocolate mocha and opted for my regular type. Since I was told to take a seat as my coffee would be delivered, I opted for the table by the window, which was rather low and my legs hardly fit underneath it despite sitting on a stool, but at least gave a view of the outdoors and didn’t make me feel like I was in anybody’s way in the confined space.

Soon enough my coffee arrived and I knew just by looking at it I wouldn’t be impressed. Altough an attempt at latte art was evident, the foam was visibly too frothy. Together with the colour, it looked more like hot cocoa – and tasted like one too. It certainly had a chocolatey flavour, but I didn’t detect any caffeine, so it was really a milky filer, not an tasty treat. Halfway through the cup I decided I had enough.

It was certainly disappointing not being able to round up the bleak, grey afternoon in Angus with a memorable cuppa; sometimes, some ventures are just not meant to be.

Mocha: £2.40

Verdict justification: Bland coffee, but nice, friendly staff, and cafe-like atmosphere

88 Degrees Fine Food Emporium,Bank Street, The Square, Kirriemuir, DD8 4BA

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