Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Butterfly and The Pig

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While Aberdeen is now most definitely my adopted home, and Edinburgh my favourite place in the UK, I have never felt much attraction for Glasgow – even though lots of my friends and colleagues would argue it’s a fantastic place to stay or visit. Although I had made quite a few day trips to Scotland’s biggest city, it never truly appealed to me – maybe because every time I visited, it rained.

Then, one September weekend it so happened that I was to stay a night at a friend’s; I still wasn’t looking forward to it… until I saw the city basking in the late summer sun, bursting with people of all ages, nationalities and styles.

After a quiet night over a good meal and a few cocktails, the following (equally glorious) morning we were planning to go walking around Loch Lomond, so we decided to treat ourselves to a breakfast in town first. With plenty of options to choose from, according to Google Maps (and certainly offering more variety than Aberdeen), we decided to try the intriguingly-sounding The Butterfly and The Pig on Bath Street.

Mocha at The Butterfly and The Pig

Mocha at The Butterfly and The Pig

Occupying a good chunk of the building (including the basement), the place to get breakfast from was the Tea Rooms; the door opened to a darkish corridor with a few tables along one side and another door to the right, leading to the said tearoom. This place reminded me of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, crossed with Antiques Roadshow – the rather small and tightly packed venue, furnished with wooden tables and chairs and featuring a striking oldschool bar as a centrepiece, was opulently decorated with a mismatched collection of teapots, china, porcelain vases and plastic flowers – not particularly my kind of place, but definitely standing up to its name.

For convenience, we took one of the tables in the centre, and were instantly approached by the single present barista. We quickly made our coffee choices, and soon followed up with a food order out of the straightforward, but smile-invoking, day menu.

As expected, to coffees arrived first – and the only comment my friend passed looking at my mocha was: “I can tell this one won’t score highly… will it?”.

“You know me too well,” I replied. Indeed, the look of my drink did not fill me with confidence regarding its contents. Served in a latte glass (on a randomly-chosen saucer, naturally), the brew had a fluffy layer of frothed milk on top, which usually meant a badly blended concoction. With that in mind I took my first sip… and was pleasantly surprised!

The coffee was, in fact, of a smooth texture and had a punchy but not overwhelming taste. It was just of the right temperature but cooling quickly, so I decided to drink it up – and overall, actually enjoyed it!

The food that followed (a selection of breakfast items for myself) was OK, but nothing spectacular, so once we ate enough to feel full, we paid the bill and set off on our little walking adventure.

Would I return to The Pig? If I was in the area – why not; having said that, now that I saw Glasgow from a different (more sunny) perspective, I’d be more inclined to explore it’s cafe scene further instead. Suggestions welcome!

Mocha: £2.50

Verdict justification: A quaint place with a varied menu and good coffee – definitely worth a visit

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The Park Café (Hazlehead Park)

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As the days grow colder and shorter, we tend to find comfort in quiet nights snuggled up on the sofa; however, the beauty of autumn on a sunny weekend afternoon is too appealing, even to such a creature of comfort like myself – and so, before the evening dawns, I take pure enjoyment in a chilly outdoor walk, among the fallen leaves.

This particular October Sunday it was an easy decision on which of the Aberdeenshire’s parks or forests to visit. After more than a year of practicing my golf swing at the range (unsuccessfully, might I add), I was about to have my first actual game on a course – at Hazlehead.

It seemed like a no-brainer to go and assess the surroundings ahead of this milestone (and stressful) occassion – particularly that in the 3 and a bit years that I’d lived in Aberdeen, I had not yet managed to pay this mysterious place a visit. Too far on the city’s peripheries for me to walk there and back, yet too central to make the car journey worthwhile, instead of an out-of-town escapade – it never attracted me enough to make that exception. Until this autumn.

Mocha at The Park Cafe (Hazlehead Park)

Mocha at The Park Cafe (Hazlehead Park)

I stuck the postcode into the car GPS and – after first being led to a horse riding school – I ended up at the large (and free!) car park outside Hazlehead’s gates. It was cold, so even though I had had breakfast not long before then, when I spotted a large coffee shop just a few steps into the park, I made it my first destination.

Remembering The Park Café at Duthie, I was positively surprised upon entering, seeing the cosy decor, plenty of seating space (with a large function room to the side) and – probably best of all – a huge selection of sweets, sandwiches and coffees. The place was heaving with people of all ages, but the ever-present queue at the queue moved smoothly regardless.

Although tempted by the countless tasty treats in the pastry display, I only went for a mocha to take away – I was keen to keep my hands warm while exploring the rest of the park. This was served promptly and I was on my way… but I did have to stop outside to admire the enchanted feel of this spot, in the autumn context – and I bet it is as endearing in the summer, or under the winter snow.

Naturally, I couldn’t expect sheer perfection from a take-away drink, but the coffee did hit the spot nevertheless. The smooth concoction was rich in chocolate – so suitable for the surroundings – but hid a delicate caffeine injection, which got my brain going a notch faster; I certainly needed that when I entered the Hazlehead Maze (which proved great entertainment for a solitary visitor like myself, as well as whole families I bumped into trying to find my way to the centre and back).

All in all, I was satisfied with the overall experience of my first visit to Hazlehead and would definitely recommend it – both for the relaxing (and fun) outdoors, as well as the cosy retreat offered by its cafe.

Regular mocha (take-away): £2.50

Verdict justification: Very good coffee and great facilities for all types of park wanderers

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

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