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