Overflowing marshmallows

Today I visited a tearoom in Dundee that I have been failing to to visit for weeks now, despite deliberately going to Dundee for the very purpose of visiting it. My previous lack of success has been due to the fact that I have been unable to find a parking place anywhere near the tearoom. I admit that this suggests both laziness and incompetence on my part, and I’ve come up with a number of reasons why I needed to drive there instead of get a bus and then walk, but they all seem so intolerably lame that I can’t bring myself to include them in this post.

I was beginning to get a bit paranoid about the whole thing, thinking that perhaps this lack of parking space was a punishment for my daily contribution to climate change and air pollution. Maybe I was being taught a lesson, perhaps someone up there wanted me to see the error of my ways, invest in a bus pass and freeze to death hanging about at bus stops instead.

These gloomy thoughts were descending on me as I drove towards the accursed tearoom this afternoon, but then, just as I was homing in on the area I was hoping against hope to park in, a bright shaft of golden light sliced through the clouds, piercing the grey of the street and illuminating a car-sized rectangle of tarmac at the side of the road right opposite the tearoom.

To top it all, since I’d bagged an elusive roadside spot rather than finding a space in one of the car parks nearby, I got to park for free for up to 45 minutes, which was plenty of time for the small refreshment I had in mind. Thus, feeling vindicated, I parked up and strode across to feast my eyes on the tearoom’s window display before entering the establishment itself. As you might agree, it looked very promising from the outside:

Inside, it’s mostly a baker’s shop, with only 4 small tables in a little cafe area at the back of the room. However, the space has been cleverly designed with slightly tinted mirrors lining the walls and soft lighting that creates a cosy impression of warmth and spaciousness.

Things were looking pretty good so far, and although the waitress who came to the table to find out what was to be ordered seemed a little dour* I was sure I could cheer her up with a few smiles and pleasantries. Not so, no matter how hard I tried, she was not to be moved on the smiling front. Now I know anyone can have an off day, but there were two waitresses in this place and it’s a wonder that between them they hadn’t turned all the cakes mouldy with their outstandingly glum expressions. Strangely though, when they were hanging around chatting to each other their conversation was animated and enthusiastic, so I suppose it was just the customers they didn’t care for. I noticed that they were just as rude to everyone else in the tearoom, so I didn’t take it personally.

After some indecision, owing to the tempting selection of cakes on display, I ordered a hot chocolate with ‘everything’, i.e. cream and marshamallows (which I should know by now is a mistake as I don’t really like cream on hot chocolate) and a milk scone to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate (I’m not entirely sure what a milk scone is, since all my scone recipes have milk in them, but it may be that they only contain milk, rather than the usual combination of milk and egg):

My glamorous assistant, aka my mum, ordered a Kona Kia coffee (first time I’ve ever found this Hawaiian coffee for sale in a cafe here) and a cream cookie, a delicacy for which she has an inordinate fondness:

Unfortunately, before the food and drinks came, as I was doing my usual note-taking referring to the menu for prices and range of foodstuffs, I became aware that the tearoom’s two waitresses were talking about me and discussing just what I thought I was doing writing down things from their menu. I heard some of their conversation, which included the younger one saying, in stunned tones to the older one, ‘That girl’s writing stuff down out of the menu!’ and the older one replying ‘She’s not… (gasp of shock as she looks in my direction) She is!!’ At this point I thought it would be wise to close the menu and continue writing, without looking up at my surroundings, as if writing from inside my head rather than from what I was observing. They viewed this behaviour silently for a few seconds and then the older one, with obvious relief, explained to the younger one ‘She’s just writing a journal.’ That seemed to satisfy them, and I felt I had got off lightly.

The hot chocolate was very nice, and even when the marshmallows melted and mixed into the liquid it wasn’t too sugary, but it would have been better – in my opinion – sans cream. The milk scone was also very palatable, quite crumbly but soft and sweet and a perfect accompaniment to the hot chocolate. My mum enjoyed her coffee and cream cookie, although the cookie was a little on the small side for her tastes and the coffee was rather pricey and not as good as the freshly ground Kona coffee I’ve tasted from Hawaii.

There is another branch of this bakery/cafe in Dundee that I think I would like to try next time, because although I was very favourably impressed by the cakes, menu, ambience, comfort and lighting, I was quite scared of the dour waitresses and I have a horrible sensation that they may invade my dreams tonight.

*this might be a Scottish word, I’m not sure, but it means grim, sullen or gloomy


14 thoughts on “Overflowing marshmallows

  1. There were two waitresses in this place and it’s a wonder that between them they hadn’t turned all the cakes mouldy with their outstandingly glum expressions

    Love it!

    • You’re too kind, thank you very much. They were quite honestly the two most miserable waitresses I ever recall being served by, which is particularly surprising given the delightful surroundings they spend their days in.

  2. Oh dear – no amount of marshmallows could make up for that kind of service! Perhaps the Parking Goddess was trying to “steer you clear”.

    (We say “dour” in American, but we pronounce it “dower” rather than “doo-r”. I prefer the Scottish pronunciation, it’s so expressive!)

    Who would have thought that taking notes on a tea-room was such a hugely threatening and subversive activity!

    • I hadn’t thought of that, you might be right about the reason for not finding parking. I’m so slow on the uptake sometimes.

      Now that you mention it, I think I have heard the word pronouned ‘dower’ with an American accent, thank you for clearing that up for me.

      Re: the note taking, I know, isn’t it strange? I think I’m going to have to adopt an entirely different strategy. If I’m on my own I should probably take a bundle of papers and spread them out on the table with the menu mixed in amongst them, making it look as if I’m studying, and if I’m with someone I can get them to look at the menu and whisper to me as I write.

  3. What a miserable pair. I hope the owner reads your post one day! The hot chocolate looks delicious. I am a big fan of plenty of cream and marshmallows. Having said that, we went to Banbury recently and the tearoom there served it with full-sized marshmallows which were so large they pushed the hot chocolate out of the cup. Complete mess, although I confess it was extremely tasty.

    • Your comment made me laugh! I’ve had that experience too (and I can’t blame anyone else for it because in my case it was me who made the hot chocolate and put the big marshmallows in it).

      I think with a situation like that you either have to scoop the marshmallows out (and either eat them separately or lay them somewhere until you’ve drunk a bit of the hot chocolate and can put them back in), or keep them in, try prodding them about a bit and accept a mess of overflowing beverage.

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