Chains

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

Amicus Apple

Visited in Aberdeen

Since our latest Sunday brunch hunt my colleagues have got a bit more savvy about the Aberdeen weekend food scene. This particular Sunday I had the tough task to chose one of a number of brunch diners, but once I heard the name Amicus Apple I jumped on the occasion.

The venue is better known as a laid-back cocktail place, and all credit where it’s due. Since it also features a burger-led day menu I did not expect it to offer breakfast options; and yet the tasty-looking carte du brunch sealed the deal this time for my friend and me.

Although I got there two minutes after the door opening at midday, the place was already buzzing with busy tables – a sign that Amicus‘ brunch offering is not much of a secret. The venue is actually perfectly suited for an early afternoon Spring-time meal: it is bright and airy, with round open table booths as well as an elevated, high-table area in the middle, crowned by a wall of living decor (moss-covered stones, perhaps?) behind a glass window. I sat at one of those and awaited the arrival of my friend, just moments later.

This was a cue for the busy-looking staff to deliver us a second menu, share with us the day’s specials (we could order either off the brunch menu or just go straight for the chicken roast) and take our drinks order. Since it was noon and I hadn’t had a coffee by that time, the choice for me was simple. However, although we requested just a mocha and an orange lemonade, it seemed to take forever for our drinks to arrive – and the food took even longer once that order was taken too.

Mocha at Amicus Apple

Mocha at Amicus Apple

As engrossed I might have been in the conversation with a likeminded female gossiper, I could not ignore the mini-shock when I my coffee. Nicely presented, with a soft, velvety milk cushion, the mocha was lukewarm! This is the first time I can remember a coffee review being faulted by too low a temperature of the brew, not the opposite.

Why was that a problem? With the lack of temperature the whole thing lacked punchiness, and although I could taste the sweetness of the chocolate on the bottom of the cup – even more so after I gave it a decent stir – I could not feel any caffeine kick from it whatsoever. It was more of a summer dessert than a Sunday morning perk-me-up.

Although I was busy conversing, my seat gave me a pretty good view of the bar and I hadn’t noticed our drinks having been left waiting for service, so I couldn’t understand why the coffee hadn’t been delivered hot. I had drunk the first one quickly, and since my friend ordered another orange lemon, I decided to give the mochas another go – and the result was exactly the same! You can’t knock them on consistency, and it seems that is the temperature they make their coffee at… or, that their espresso machine was broken (a painful issue – speaking from my own barista experience).

As any afternoon spent with my girl, I would not shelve this event as a wasted one; even though the coffee wasn’t up to scratch (the eggs Benedict were more on the hard-boiled side too), the venue certainly has some charm to it and is a great get-together place. As for staff – who I haven’t spoken much about here as they were hardly ever present, just flashing by our table sorting out all orders – all I can say is that we didn’t leave a big tip.

Mocha: £2.70

Verdict justification: All elements of the coffee nicely executed, but the low temperature and lack of punchiness are a big let-down

http://www.amicusapple.com/

Categories: Aberdeen, Chains, UK | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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