When it turns 20ºC in north of Scotland in April, you don’t know whether to call it spring or summer – but you will be wise enough to spend that day outdoors, because you know this phenomenon won’t happen often in the course of the year.
Such glamorous weather had happened to struck this part of the world on Easter Sunday; no more excuses needed for some family time off in the sunshine. To be precise, I’ve ended up among the families – on a solitary trip to Ballater.
When I had enquired about more destinations where I could go for a reasonable drive and a not-too-strenuous walk, this was the place, according to the locals. A 90min drive from Aberdeen (a very pleasant one in the aforementioned weather conditions), the town has plenty of charm as much in its little shops and cafes as in the surrounding greenery – including a golf course that made me want to pick up the sport.
A 90min drive is also enough for one to work up their appetite, and I had been also given a recommendation to address that: “If you’re having brunch, The Bothy is the place to go,” I heard. And so, I followed.
The place was heaving – unsurprisinly, as I arrived bang on midday – but for some reason no one decided to sit at the two wee tables outside, which to me seemed a no-brainer on a day like that. I did have a small breakfast that morning, but was about to walk the steep Craigendarroch Hill overlooking the surrounding area, so thought I might as well indulge – and went for a walnut cake and, naturally, a mocha.
It was a pay-and-pick-up system inside, so I had to wait at the counter for my order, hoping no one would snatch my seat outside in that time. Because of the business of the place it was, indeed, a bit of a wait as there was a lot of semi-frantic movement behind the counter, with two baristas trying to make coffee at the same time, and hot food orders being sorted also – but all in good spirits and smiles all around.
I was glad to take my coffee (also smiling) away from the commotion and into the fresh air. I was curious of its taste as I had seen it being prepared: cocoa scooped into the jug with milk before frothing; I had seen this before, but with various results. The Bothy mocha had a nice foam and texture, and good sweetness – but the thing lacking was a caffeine punch. I overheard my barista say to the other when they swapped places at the coffee machine that she needed one shot of espresso poured for my coffee – sadly, for the size of the cup that one shot was not enough.
Other than that, the experience was quite nice overall, but hard to judge in such extreme circumstances as an Easter Sunday – on the other hand, the staff have to be applauded for keeping their smiles on despite the business; and whenever good weather strikes again, I’m bound to revisit the place, hopefully when it’s a bit quieter inside too.
Verdict justification: Not bad coffee but needing more caffeine; pleasant staff and good menu.