Coffee Anyone?

Hello again from Guest Editor.

Well, today I met up with a friend for coffee in town. We had originally made plans to visit Cafe Rouge in Frederick St however upon arriving it was too busy. In hindsight it was pointless to try and get a table in there at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon because it is always really busy on the weekends. I was quietly glad as it was full of smokers - which I guess is tres French - but for me, it just turns a pleasant afternoon into a headache.
So we changed our tact and headed for the upmarket bar in Oloroso on North Castle St. I’ve been a few times for dinner and always been pleased with the food and the bar meals were certainly no let down either. I ordered fish cakes, which turned out to be a fish cake. It was one massive fish cake, smooth and tasty inside and encased in a perfectly crisp, fine breaded crust. It was served with crunchy blanched green beans and a lovely light creamy white wine sauce. I think for the size of the fishcake (and it was big!) a tablespoon more sauce would have made it perfect. I’m not complaining though. It was piping hot and everything tasted very fresh which for £6.95 is an incredibly good deal for a restaurant of that calibre.

My friend just opted for a latte and I joined him after my lunch for a cup of tea. It was refreshing to be served a cup of tea/coffee with a plate of biscuits. It’s such a nice touch and I think terribly continental europe. There were four stunning full sized biscuits served on their own small plate which were clearly handmade. The bsicuits, not the plate! Two whole biscuits each, what a treat! A much nicer touch that a tiny shop bought biscuit on the side of your saucer which is usually half soggy upon arrival from the liquid spilt during the journey from barista to table.

There are a couple of things however which do annoy me slightly about Oloroso. The smoking and the acoustics. I personally can’t wait for the smoking bans to arrive in Scotland. Like every other venue in the country due to the harsh winters the buildings tend to be built to be almost hermetically sealed, which is fine for keeping out the cold but very effective for keeping in cigarette smoke, which gets a bit much after a while. Very few venues in Scotland (and the rest of Britain for that matter) have effective ventilation and so the atmosphere is a little smoky and stuffy. In addition to this, with it’s tiled flooring in the bar and loads of glass surfaces everywhere, the whole place can get very loud. I have experienced this in both the bar and the restaraunt area and at times you have to shout to communicate. The noise of the chatting diners and drinkers seems to bounce off the roof and the walls, which unfortunately makes it less of a venue for a romantic interlude and more the kind of place for larger groups. It does have a private dining room but with a dinner price tag of £450 (minimum seating arrangement for 10 at £45) it’s a high price to pay for a bit of peace and quiet. It’s not that I am a boring old stick in the mud, but after almost shouting for two hours, I came out with a headache.

It is still definately worth a visit though, but I would suggest visiting on one of the quieter times like a weeknight. Beware - for a Friday or Saturday night booking you will need to call at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance.

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