Posts Tagged With: Latte

Di Maggio’s

Visited at Bon Accord Shopping Centre, Aberdeen

With a very special occasion in sight – my best friend getting married with me proudly serving as her maid of honour – I have been really trying to be good, keep off sweets and milky coffee, and only allow myself a daily dose of not-too-pleasant-but-still-caffeine offering from my work canteen. However, that weekend I had been wandering around for hours looking for a dress and accessories and was desperate for something special for the belly. I usually try to stay away from the shopping centres’ food malls, but that Sunday I hit a brick wall and decided I wouldn’t visit another shop before grabbing a coffee.

I was actually going to settle down for an M&S café, but then spotted Di Maggio’s – thought it was a good idea to give it a go, since I hadn’t heard of the place before.

Latte (and apple pie) at Di Maggio's

Latte (and apple pie) at Di Maggio’s

It was a typical high street/shopping centre chain, Italian-branded but with none of the staff looking remotely Italian; I didn’t expect anything different, although I did have that small hope for a bit of Italian charm. That hope disappeared when I placed myself in a queue where other customers were waiting with trays in hand and orders were taken in advance down the line by another staff member to keep the customers from dropping out.

In my mind I had already allowed myself a sweet treat after I noticed the afternoon offer: cake and coffee for £3.49. I had also instantly decided on the amaretto cheesecake, the second I saw it on the sweets menu – but had to make do with an apple pie, because a cheesecake was nowhere to be seen. Disappointment aside, at least my conscience was slightly recuperated when I just ate the apple mix and left the pastry out – nothing wrong with it, just carbs.

As for the coffee, the choice was harder – I was not keen on a sweet mocha, and was considering a cappuccino, solely because I was, after all, at an Italian café… but I dreaded the prospect of a dry, frothy concoction and decided to go for a safer latte. Safer – maybe, but probably not tastier. It was too hot, too milky, not at all punchy – and not presented in a typical Italian layered manner, but that was out of the question from the start.

I did gain two things from this visit, however: I did have a bit more energy to continue with my shopping (which ended a success, eventually) and I arrived to the very firm conclusion that shopping centre chain coffee shops are to be stayed away from, definitely, with no exceptions.

Latte: £2.75

Verdict justification: The staff was a hit and miss (one pleasant, one not so much), the food average, the coffee not worth the hassle. Not an afternoon-tea (or coffee) place.

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

Yellow Bench

One of my last cafe visits had to take place on my home street – Leith Walk. I have abused this area in terms of sourcing my reviews, but like it or not, Leith Walk – and Leith itself – has a huge variety of coffee shops on offer, many of which are definitely worthwhile. I was glad to discover that the Yellow Bench was one of such spots.

The tiny place tucked away in the shadow of the neighbouring Gaia, the Bench got my attention from the first day it got opened, with hand-written posters in the window promising Polish delicacies (and crepes!). As with many other places, I intended to check it out many a time, but the day has come only after a whole morning and afternoon of cleaning the flat before moving out. I thought then that I deserved a coffee and a sweet treat, preferably of the Polish variety (sorry Brits, but our cakes are simply nicer!) and with only half an hour to spare between my chores, I ran to the Bench.

The place was as small as it looked from the outside: just one room and a few big tables leading to two small counters: with cakes and with a till; later I realised there was a kitchen in the back room as well as a pancake hob and an espresso machine behind the till. There were only two customers in when I got there, and I spotted a traditional schabowy (pork cutlet) on their table. It took a quick glance at the cake display to know that I’d be having cheesecake; the coffee was a problem, though, as they didn’t serve mochas, in which case I decided to go for a latte, quite preoccupied inside.

Latte and Cheesecake at Yellow Bench

Latte and Cheesecake at Yellow Bench

I took the table nearest to the cake display, which made my photo-documentation a bit more tricky. My order was served quickly and my heart rose when I saw the coffee: a lovely layered latte, as one should look like (I had been told and shown by a fellow Italian barista). With that little time to spare, I tucked in: and was left sinking in the tranquillity of the place and the divinity of the moment. The latte did not require sugar, it was lovely on its own; the foam was not too airy and did not collapse as it tends to with badly steamed milk, and the whole thing blended nicely, despite keeping its layering; whilst the cheesecake was the best I tried outside my mum’s kitchen. But the cherry on top was the price: the package cost… £3.60!

I know I might sound biased, since it is a Polish venue after all, but I’d like to assure you I am usually prejudiced against places like that away from home; until I tried the coffee I feared it would be of an inferior quality. And yet, this tiny spot has the charm and the menu to turn not-so-good a day into a brighter one. Believe me or not, that’s one you’d regret passing by without going in.

Coffee: £2.50

Verdict justification: A real shame they don’t do mochas – it could have been one of my favourites!

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

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