Chains

Café by Benugo at John Lewis

Visited in Bon Accord centre

It’s been a very busy few months as I had taken the plunge and finally got myself on the property ladder. This has meant loads of weekend trips to B&Q and Homebase, not so much popping out for a cup of coffee – unless it was really needed as a stress reliever.

This was the case when I was looking for bits and bobs in John Lewis’ during my lunch break and all of a sudden I felt it was all too much, and a break was required. When I saw the café in the store, I didn’t think twice – I almost ran in.

Mocha at Café by Benugo

I was expecting a level of elegance and sophistication from a coffee shop associated with a high-end homeware store, and first impressions were positive. There was only a couple in the queue in front of me, which gave me time to skim through the drinks menu on the wall and decide on the cake to accompany my mocha (sugar required as much as caffeine).

I took a seat close to the entrance as I knew I didn’t have much time to relax and enjoy myself. Once the coffee was delivered I knew I wouldn’t want to draw this out too long either. There had been an attempt at a latte art, but juxtaposed with the leaflet on the table, it made the coffee look a bit sad…

The looks corresponded with the taste, unfortunately. Despite the blob of milk on top, the consistency of the drink was generally good, but that same froth remained at the bottom of the cup when I was done, suggesting not all of it had blended properly. Same with the cocoa, as a thick layer stuck on the bottom of the cup, contributing to a quite acidic beverage all together.

I drank quickly, ate my marble cake, and ran. It was good to rest my feet for a few minutes, but sadly, this franchise cafe did not encourage me to come to John Lewis’ for anything more than household goods.

Mocha: £2.80

Verdict justification: The coffee was OK but not particularly memorable. A pause-and-go experience – but isn’t that what cafes in shopping centres are for?

 

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Cafe de Pierre

Visited on Piccadilly Street, London

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London is a true haven for coffee lovers – I think even if I had lived here, I would have struggled to visit all the coffee shops it has on offer, and discover the gems among them. Instead, as a tourist – ironically – you tend to end up going for the most convenient high street options when in need of a quick fix.

Thankfully, in London “high street cafe” does not only mean a Caffe Nero or a Starbucks, as there are plenty of other chains in the capital – one of them being Caffe Concerto.

De Pierre, despite the different name, is part of the franchise – if you had visited Concerto before, this becomes obvious once you cross its doors (particularly if, like myself, you visited both within two consecutive days): the massive chandeliers, burlesque-like decor and smart-uniformed staff cannot be mistaken for anywhere else.

And neither can the menu. They were pretty much identical in the two places, with only a slight difference in price for the breakfast specials; the coffees were priced the same, and worryingly (for some reason I did not see that as promising) expensive.

Mocha at Cafe de Pierre

Mocha at Cafe de Pierre

The staff – albeit only two of them taking and delivering orders in a pretty crowded cafe – were bravely smiling and assisting customers with their requests, and apologising for even a small wait. As I sat down, I was quickly attended to, and ordered my scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a mocha.

The coffee arrived first, so I could start to appreciate it fully on an empty stomach before the ample and delicious breakfast arrived, minutes later. The appearance of it was rather pleasing, considering the layers of chocolate, coffee and milk, albeit the top layer looked a bit too frothy, which got me a bit worried. However, I gave the whole thing a stir and took a sip… and it was truly lovely. The smooth concoction was sweet and punchy, and of the perfect drinking temperature.

I went through my breakfast before finishing the last drops of it, feeling very fulfilled and ready to face a day of exploring in London.

A trip to Caffe Concerto the following day, just two minutes up Piccadilly Street from its sister, was a tad disappointing. The staff seemed tired and disinterested, and it took a while before my order was taken – although I have to admit it looked pretty busy. I then easily managed to drink my coffee before the food arrived as, although the drink was still sweet and pleasant on first sip, it was also – for once – just below the right temperature and cooled down further quickly.

Out of the two, Caffe de Pierre is certainly worth recommending, leaving pleasant memories and aftertastes, albeit on a tad expensive side – but, all in all, not bad for a high street chain after all.

Mocha: £3.30

Verdict justification: Tasty coffee, magical interiors and attentive staff – certainly worth a shot

http://www.caffeconcerto.co.uk/Restaurant/RestaurantPage.aspx?ID=22

Categories: Cafes, Chains, London, Travel Log, UK | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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