Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Travel warmers

One of the questionable beauties of the Festive season is the reunion with out friends and family. Why questionable? After all, more often than not, it requires travelling between cities and even countries, to make those reunions happen. Many of us will have to go through the ordeal of public transport this year, as all those years before; and I think you’ll agree it hardly gets worse than a cramped wagon with crying children and snoring old ladies – with a lousy cup of coffee that hardly gives any consolation, even in the form of warmth in the winter chill.

Having travelled a lot myself recently, I decided to test a few of the most popular coffee-providers on UK train stations to help you make your journey-brew choices more satisfying. Whatever you end up drinking, I hope it will keep you warm and merry this New Year’s!

Millie’s Cookies

Latte at Millie's Cookies

Coconut Latte at Millie’s Cookies

I had tried Millie’s previously and although the muffin I had (I know, profane, should have tried a cookie!) was great, the coffee I couldn’t drink – the mocha was so awfully sweet, I was munching the muffin to lessen the blow! This winter they introduced a whole array of Christmassy Cadburry’s Hot Chocolates, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again and played it safe, opting for a coconut latte. It wasn’t too bad, actually, although it hinted slight bitterness from the milk; then again, you can’t expect miracles from a fully automated machine, that has a ‘Latte’ button on it…

Upper Crust

Mocha at Upper Crust

Mocha at Upper Crust

They do specialise in baguettes, I know; but there must be a reason why they have a manual espresso machine in the shop, no? I thought I was being reasonable expecting a decent coffee. Unfortunately, the mocha was bland, too frothy and forgettable. Stick to the sandwiches.

Delice de France

Latte at Delice de France

Latte at Delice de France

I admit, I’ve not seen too many of these, but with a coffee+croissant deal for £2.99 I wouldn’t have been able to miss it. The beauty of it was not only that you could chose an almond croissant as well as the classic one, but also received any drink of a medium size. Unfortunately, they didn’t do mochas, so a latte had to do. It was OK, but too milky for the size, and although at first it went well with the croissant, it quickly turned into a bland brew, that I only managed to drink up halfway. So-so.

Caffeine Rush

Mocha at Caffeine Rush

Mocha at Caffeine Rush

Now this one I remember from my college days, when making coffee was still some kind of wizardry and anything that was sweet and punchy was appreciated; it was with Rush that I developed my love for mochas as it made an amazing change to the coffee from an automated machine (yuk!). Since then I have seen the vans here and there, but they were always shut at rather curious, daytime hours; so, when I saw one open at a train station recently I didn’t think twice about it. Unfortunately, the reality did not stand up to my memories: the coffee was quite tasteless, and although I saw the guy squirt quite a lot of chocolate inside the cup, it still didn’t taste anything of chocolate, apart from the dusting on top. It also had the bitter taste of old coffee – the espresso did sit for a while before the milk was added to it; not mentioning the fact of dirty steam-wands being reused over and over again without being wiped. Oh, the happy, naive college days…

AMT Coffee

Cafe Maya at AMT Coffee

Cafe Maya at AMT Coffee

I remember years ago taking a train in London and stopping by one of those for a mocha; at that time, I changed my mind in the last minute to have a Coconut Milk instead… I regretted the decision, purely because it was so uneconomical in my view in those days. Maybe that was the reason why I never felt encouraged to stop by it once more. However, when recently I was dying for a coffee I saw the kiosk and one of their recommendations: Cafe Maya, with chocolate and cinnamon. I went for it full on, with a bit of whipped cream and – for the first time ever – marshmallows. Those could have swayed my opinion a little bit, as they probably contributed to a scrumptious cup of coffee: sweet, nicely spiced and strong enough… Although by the end of it, the power of cocoa and espresso got a bit too much. All-in-all, I would recommend this one.

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Categories: Cafes, Chains, Feature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dome

What better place to review during Christmas than the world-famous Dome? Impossible to miss for it’s pompous decorations with thousands of lights, tinsel and two huge sparkling trees – in the Garden Café and at the main Grill Room opposite the door, year on year it attracts more amateur photographers and growing queues of curious customers; and no wonder, as the cinnamon-scented (intensely) venue is not only stunning to look at – one’s sole presence inside, the décor and the service make for a luxurious experience without the premium prices.

The Dome at Christmas

The Dome at Christmas

I’ve visited The Dome every festive period since arriving to Edinburgh, so it was justified to have high expectations; despite my previous experiences, however, I did not expect those queues that awaited me and my friend at the door to all Dome’s dining rooms.

To increase our chances of finding a table for a wee afternoon-tea we made our way through the crowds straight to the Afternoon Tea room upstairs – only to learn that we would have to wait up to an hour to get seated. Fair enough, I thought, it was Saturday early afternoon after all, and was ready to go and look for a quieter spot, but my companion would have nothing of that; she stubbornly insisted that the experience will justify the wait. So we waited.

After about 45 minutes we finally got a seat, and felt our spirits lift as the place started working its magic again. My companion knew straight away she’d order a sticky toffee pudding – to complete this special moment – and a tea to wash it down; I stuck to my mocha, as it was served with a mini mince pie – a yearly tradition indeed.

Christmas Tree in the Garden Cafe, The Dome

Christmas Tree in the Garden Cafe, The Dome

Surprisingly, the pudding was served first, but the drinks followed shortly after; or maybe not so surprising if you think about the number of people that was being served at the same time – after all, in the Afternoon Tea room drinks would form the majority of orders. Sticky Toffee looked great, but the sight of my mocha worried me a lot. It seemed watery and had an unhealthy light-brown colour; the foam on top looked shiny and fragile like that from a washing liquid and added to my concerns, which were confirmed after the first sip. It was bland and nearly tasteless if omitting the bitterness of cheap or weak coffee. I immediately added sugar, which, as ever, made it even worse. Thank goodness for that mince pie… and the one my friend was served with her tea, which she happily shared with me; thanks to those, I managed to get through most of my coffee, but that wasn’t enough to recover my trust in The Dome.

Mocha at The Dome

Mocha at The Dome

Whether my taste buds have changed as a consequence of becoming a mocha addict or whether the quality suffered due to the level of business, I do not know, but I feel heartbroken having to give The Dome a low mark for the beverage this time. Nevertheless, visiting this place, for a drink or food, is a must when you’re in Edinburgh and overall is – and will always be – a great experience.

Mind the weekends, however.

Mocha: £2.40

Verdict justification: The place, the atmosphere, the whole experience – brilliant; what a shame for the poor coffee!

http://www.thedomeedinburgh.com/

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

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