Posts Tagged With: Sunday

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: , , , , ,

Cognito on the Corner

I remember visiting the original Cognito for the first time three years ago (has it really been this long?!). At the time the standalone cafe only had a few seats outside – by now, the brand has built a mini local empire.

Today, Cognito is sporting a lovely outdoor area at the original shop, a wee branded van running about town, and a total of four different venues across the West End. I’m yet to visit the Deli across the road from the cafe, or the newest addition situated within the Queen’s Cross Church nearby, but I have already been twice to the stunning bistro/gin bar, Cognito on the Corner.

The first visit was on an early spring night, not too long after its opening. The decor was mesmerising: gold and brass in art deco, very Gatsby and very much to my taste – which made the few G&Ts, a charcuterie platter and the tête-à-tête with my company that night that much more enjoyable, even if we were sat at the bar.

After that, I forgot about the venue, partly due to it being a bit away from the city centre, and partly because the couple times I’d enquired for a table, they were fully booked.

But this was an unusual Sunday for myself and my other half, as we decided to take a break from hiking and stay in town. We fancied ourself some brunch, so our first shout was the Deli – unfortunately, as it later turned out, we picked the wrong date for it, as it was hosting Cognito’s bi-annual staff do that night, and was therefore closed.

Mocha at Cognito on the Corner

The Corner wasn’t, however, and – once more – we managed to get the last seats at the bar. By that time ravenous, I ordered my Eggs Royale and a mocha, trusting in the coffee quality implied by the venue’s heritage; since the brew arrived first I went straight for it.

Unfortunately, the first sip revealed it did not stand up neither to the glam interior nor the Cognito legacy. Although it was well made, with smooth texture, it lacked the chocolatey sweetness, but at the same time had a bit of a powdery taste to it. There was only one size available to order and it was pretty big, and as it cooled down it developed a bitter milk aftertaste.

Sadly, neither did the Eggs Royale impress on this occasion. Because it was after noon at this point, my other half went for the Sunday roast, which still left him craving more; we thought about maybe ordering sweets from the pastry section at the back of the restaurant, but once we saw the minimalistic display, we decided against it.

Even though this wasn’t a memorable experience, I’m sure we will pay the Deli a visit soon, and I would still recommend the Corner for a romantic dinner or a night out with the girls – but probably best to stick to the original Cognito for coffee and cake.

Mocha: £3.50

Verdict justification: The venue is great for evening entertaining – not so much for a coffee break.

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

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