Local

Falls of Feugh

It was another one of those Sundays when I had been out on the road just after golf practice, enjoying the spell of glorious weather, and not really ready to head back home yet. But, since I also had commitments later in the day, I knew I couldn’t make it a long escapade either – so, Banchory seemed the obvious choice.

Keen on a walk, I thought I’d park the car at the Falls of Feugh again and climb up into town to see where else in there I can get myself a cuppa, other than the Birdhouse Cafe. But just as I crossed the road with all the intention to head past the waterfalls, I realised that the name-bearing restaurant was open for business, and at arms reach.

And so, I made a U-turn and entered the dreamy-looking Falls of Feugh. A bit confused at first which way to go in the small, country-house-like hallway, once I found the right door I was shocked by the sheer size of the place – and that was only one part of it!

Mocha at Falls of Feugh

Mocha at Falls of Feugh

Adjacent to the main dining area there was another one, followed by a stunning function room; but for me the best location was the terrace overlooking the river below – and that’s where I was seated.

The place was pretty quiet, seeing that it was past lunchtime and around an hour off the closing time, but there were new arrivals even after I had placed my order for a mocha and a carrot cake. Facing the back garden of the restaurant, whose main feature was indisputably the river, all basking in the early summer sunshine, I felt a sense of contentment, and thought this place deserved kudos at least for the ambiance, if nothing else…

Yes, I had read a few reviews before my visit, and they weren’t singing praise to the food offering at the Falls; I was soon to find out if that also encompassed coffee and sweets as my order was served with an array of cutlery for my choosing.

The view off the terrace at Falls of Feugh

The view off the terrace at Falls of Feugh

In fact, I could not fault the carrot cake – it was lovely and moreish; sadly, the coffee was not.

Served in a latte glass (and if you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you’ll know I’m not a fan of those), the appearance was spoilt further by a blob of milk foam on top. The concoction below looked rich, but I had to pace myself before I tasted it, as the brew was too hot to handle at first. Once I got my tastebuds to work, the disappointment continued: I could not sense any caffeine in it, and there was a lack of luxurious consistency, with the brew having a rather watery feel to it. Not really the experience I’d expect from a £3.75/cup.

It’s a great shame, because the location is absolutely beautiful and I’d be keen to bring friends over here after a walk up Scolty Hill… well, we might still do so for the cake.

Mocha: £3.75

Verdict justification: Great spot for a restaurant, but the coffee doesn’t do it justice – particularly for that price!

Falls of Feugh website

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Birdhouse Cafe

In all my trips to Ballater, Braemar and the likes, I’ve never actually managed to stop in Banchory – a small but charming town on the main road between Aberdeen and the Highlands. So this particular Sunday, as I was on the go anyway, and with a gap in the schedule (just after golf, and before the Formula 1 Grand Prix on TV) I decided to make it my coffee destination.

Purposefully to squeeze in a wee bit more exercise into the day, I parked at the Falls of Feugh at the bottom of Banchory, and walked up to the high street in a 15min stroll in the gorgeous Spring sun. I knew I was heading for the Birdhouse Cafe, as that was the only place that caught my eye on my car journeys through the town. But I didn’t know what to expect upon arrival, and seeing it was a lovely weekend day I realised I might not get a seat in the small venue.

Ceiling decoration at the Birdhouse Cafe

Ceiling decoration at the Birdhouse Cafe

It did turn out to be more compact then expected, but I was in luck: with all other seats taken or reserved, there was one table free next to the window. Although there were some scrumptious looking treats on the counter where I was placing my order, I decided to only go for the mocha, and once I paid I quickly went to safeguard my space.

That’s when I could appreciate the quirky but charming decor of the place – as well as the world outside the window, and the magazine selection to the left of my seat which made my (short) wait for the coffee more pleasant.

Mocha at the Birdhouse Cafe

Mocha at the Birdhouse Cafe

But when the mocha arrived, I was a bit concerned – it was huge (never a good sign in my mind!). I tasted it, and my suspicions were confirmed: under the thick froth, the concoction was rather milky and lacked the punchiness of either the cocoa or the caffeine. There was more sweetness closer to the bottom of the cup (were I struggled getting to due to the size of the drink), which suggested real chocolate being used, but stirring it did little to improve it. Somehow I got through the cup and was glad I hadn’t had anything to eat with it – I was stuffed!

Having said that, the staff were very friendly and the venue was great for a relaxing stopover, so I actually enjoyed my time at the Birdhouse and would definitely recommend it for first-timers!

Mocha: £2.50

Verdict justification: A very pleasant cafe, but the coffee needs a bit more character!

Birdhouse Cafe’s Facebook page

Categories: Cafes, Local | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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