Hidden

The Tartan Pig coffee house

New cafes popping up on Aberdeen’s high street are always a surprise – how do they compete for an already scarce demand for crafted coffee, and this against the stealthy position of chain giants? But what is more surprising are those cafes on street corners in quiet neighbourhoods, where – you’d think – the demand is even less, and they must rely on the local community for success, if not survival.

Two of my favourite quiet and polished areas of the City are the West End and Ferryhill. While the former has its St Swithin street with an abundance of cafes per square metre (Cafe Cognito and The Long Dog Cafe among others), Ferryhill is less fortunate in that department, if you take the noisy Holburn Street and the The Park Cafe* in Duthie Park’s Winter Gardens out of the equation.

*(this place has actually gone through a huge revamp recently, so this review from 2015 should probably now get an update to suit…)

That is why when I saw the The Tartan Pig coffee house, I was very much intrigued. One Sunday morning, which was too wet and windy to venture out into the country as I had been doing of recent, and when I also didn’t feel like staying in all day, I dragged the other half out for a walk around town, knowing very well my destination was the Pig.

As we arrived back of 11, the place was still quite empty, with just a few tables taken. We sat under the far wall and took everything in. The menu behind the bar on the wall was confusing at first, and needed a bit of studying, but the conclusion was that one could have any combination of bread types and breakfast items to their heart’s desire.

What my other half got really excited about was bubble waffles – admittedly, I had to Google the term before I decided I wanted one also. Just like with French toast, there were sweet and savoury options to choose from, from a separate, dedicated menu. I went for a bacon and maple syrup, my partner – for a fried egg and mushroom one. Naturally, I went for a mocha, alongside his tea.

Mocha at The Tartan Pig

Mocha at The Tartan Pig

As we awaited for our order to be served, a few more people arrived – and a dog, suggesting the place is pet-friendly – and suddenly it felt pretty crowded inside. We saw a banoffee waffle being served, and it looked like a heart attack on a plate; while another savoury waffle served elsewhere (proving their popularity) looked pale and sad by comparison… I did not know what to expect.

Our drinks arrived first, and I looked at mine in despair. Judging the book by its cover, I was expecting a weak, pale, milky concoction. I gave it a stir and then I spotted bits of melted chocolate on the bottom of the glass – a reassuring sight. I took a sip… and was positively surprised! The mocha was smooth, well balanced – it was sweet from the well-dissolved chocolate, but not overwhelmingly so, and the temperature was just right for a nasty day like that – hot, but drinkable.

Unfortunately, the food that followed didn’t match the height of the coffee: a couple of rashers of bacon on an otherwise empty waffle, with only the maple syrup to (ironically) lift it up a bit. My partner’s plate of just savoury ingredients – even in their scarcity – looked even less palatable.

We were hungry, so we managed past the 50% mark and left it at that. While I wouldn’t be rushing back for the waffles, the other munchies on the Pig’s Facebook page look very scrumptious indeed, and I wouldn’t hesitate giving them a go – especially when the coffee tastes so good!

Mocha: £3.00

Verdict justification: Despite the first impressions, a very enjoyable, smooth and sweet coffee. A bit more refinement would nail it!

The Tartan Pig’s Facebook page

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Hidden, Local, UK | Tags: , , , , ,

Tempo

And now for something quite different…

I have wondered about Tempo every time I walked through the Bon Accord shopping centre, always curious to check it out but – ironically – never having the time to do so.

Tempo in Aberdeen’s Bon Accord

But this one afternoon the perfect opportunity arose when I had to wait for my prescription to be finalised at Boots – a typical 15-20min wait which, at that point (having already done all my shopping), I didn’t know what to do with… and then I remembered about the mysterious coffee place downstairs.

The spot where Tempo currently is used to be occupied by a number of pop ups: an art gallery and a Mini showroom are the few that I remember; so when Tempo came on the go in November last year, I assumed it would disappear after a month or two – but, alas,  it’s still going, more than six months in.

I read the general instructions on the A-board outside a few times when passing by, but I still wasn’t sure how this would work; so I rocked up to the counter and the first question I was asked was “Have you been here before?”. I was glad to have everything explained without having to ask – even though it was all pretty straightforward.

Mocha at Tempo

Every minute in Tempo costs 10p – but there are no other charges; instead, there’s the free use of the seating, charging points, WiFi and, of course, the kitchen, featuring a coffee machine, a selection of cakes and biscuits, as well as cereal, toast and even hot soup available at lunchtime.

The idea behind Tempo is to enjoy some time off – either alone, or even better with a friend or family, over coffee or a board game, whatever you might feel like that day. But the benefits aren’t just a recharge and a catch-up on latest gossip; in fact, all the proceeds go to CLAN Cancer Support – so you never actually feel you overstayed.

Enjoying some time off at Tempo

I knew from the moment I “clocked in” at the register that this would not be my usual cafe review; there were no baristas to craft my drink, and my mocha was all ready at the touch of a button – but that didn’t put me off (in fact, for a machine coffee, it tasted quite nice!).

I appreciated a quiet place (it looked pretty funky, decorated by professional designers as I later found out) to enjoy a hot brew and a sponge slice – so much better than being stuck in the pharmacy or wandering about shop shelves with no intention to buy! In fact, I felt quite guilty leaving after 17 minutes, only due £1.70 – so I left all my other small change at the till as a “tip”.

Having experienced it first-hand, and seen how popular this place is, I would encourage anyone who’s looking to fill a half-hour in town to pay Tempo a visit – it’s all for a good cause, and you will come out feeling more than recharged for the rest of the day!

Tempo Facebook page

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

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