Monthly Archives: September 2016

Parx Cafe


Having lived in this city for more than three years now, you’d think I’d know all of its coffee secrets – but, alas!, Aberdeen still throws up a surprise in some of the most unexpected places. Parx Cafe was one of those revelations.

I was strolling down Robislaw Terrace, just out of a meeting and on my way back to the office, when I noticed the A-board – and then the cafe down the steps from it. The name sounded familiar – quite possibly having seen it in one of online reviews for Granite City’s best breakfast offerings; or maybe I had noticed it before on one of the rare occasions I had been walking in this area, but never paid it much heed before.

But when I saw it this time, my first thought was: this place looks cool; my second thought was: this street – the start of a long chain of business’ HQs – really needs a venue like this, with no other cafe that I’d know of, closer than Union Street; and my final thought was: it’s coffee time!

Mocha at Parx Cafe

Mocha at Parx Cafe

As I walked down the steps and through the door, the second thought was instantly confirmed: the spacious venue had almost all seats taken by suit-and-tie folk. The place itself was fresh, open and simplistic, but offering a great selection of tasty looking home made sandwiches, cakes and breakfast options; you could even pick up fresh strawberries and cream for a healthy morning option.

I settled for a mocha and went for one of the few remaining seats (by a huge table that could host a family dinner) – just after pouring myself a cup of water that I simply knew would be there on the condiment bar – I could tell this was the kind of place to offer this.

The coffee arrived some minutes later, and that curbed my excitement a bit – the frothy layer of milk heavily sprinkled with cocoa made me a bit weary of what lay underneath. Thankfully, appearances were deceiving in this case: the Parx mocha packed a punch, with a sweet, rich chocolatey taste, which was not sickening, however. It was a very moreish cup, and its only small minus was the texture, as noted upon arrival – that layer of froth compromising on the smoothness throughout.

If this had been my local work cafe, I would be pretty content with both the food options and – maybe more importantly – the coffee, as a lunch break at Parx would be a proper treat – and one to crave for time and time again!

Mocha (regular): £2.90

Verdict justification: Great venue with tasty coffee and ample food spread – what else do you need to complete the daily business routine!

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Hidden, UK | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment


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It wasn’t planned, but my second, and – sadly – last coffee stop during my one day visit to Edinburgh was also a French place. I was meeting a (French, naturally) friend for lunch and his suggestion was L’Echoppe – tucked away at the top of an unassuming residential street behind the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, it was a place to walk past and miss, if I hadn’t got exact directions of how to get there (after taking the wrong turn behind the Sheraton and ending up under Morrison Street, not on it).

I was glad my friend had arrived to the place on time (while I was late trying to find my way back up to the correct ground level), as we risked not having a seat in the compact shop which looked like a popular lunch break stop. With a seat reserved by the window, I saw just how many people didn’t simply walk past this inconspicuous place, but stopped at the entrance to look at the menu, and then walk in for a carry-out sandwich or coffee.

Mocha at L'Echoppe

Mocha at L’Echoppe

We, too, went for a couple of toasties over which we talked about what had happened since we last spoke; once we finished those, we ordered our coffees.

When I noticed my mocha was served in a Matthew Algie cup, I took that as a good sign – I remember having good memories of these coffee roasters from other Edinburgh cafes back in the day. But even without that giveaway detail, the overall presentation was very enticing and I was eager to dive into it.

The L’Echoppe mocha lived up to old expectations: the drink was smooth and wholesome, sweet but not overpowering. I can’t exactly explain why I’m not scoring it full marks – it was a lovely cup of coffee, but it lacked a secret element that would make it unforgettable. Still, it was very moreish, and completely satisfying after a toastie.

L’Echoppe is a pleasant, quaint coffee shop with a somewhat limited food offering, but good enough for a lunch break; and no matter how filling (or not) the food ends up, their coffee will be the perfect round up, powering the drinker for the rest of the afternoon – it certainly worked for me. So, if you’re ever in the area – definitely worth a visit.

Mocha: £2.40

Verdict justification: Very nice coffee and a pleasant (albeit small) venue

Categories: Cafes, Edinburgh, Hidden, UK | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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