Aberdeenshire’s Royal Deeside is so named because the land that surrounds the beautiful River Dee was loved by Queen Victoria.
The tartan-toting Queen, whose 19th Century Balmoral Castle holiday home remains a favourite haunt of the Royal family today, loved all things Scottish.
But follow the Dee into fast-paced Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, and it’s easy to forget that you are in the land of tartan, bagpipes and stags.
Unless, like Scone Spy, you happen to drop in to Blether at Cults on the way.
This little coffee house on the North Deeside Road is a stylish celebration of Scotland, from its tasteful plaid drapes to the uber-expensive antler chandeliers, all set against a calming backdrop of traditional tongue and groove panelling and forest green walls. Even the solitary loo is a haven of luxury.
Scone Spy calls in on a busy Saturday – as ever, unannounced – just as a beaming young dad is leaving with a contented child balanced on his hip. The place is packed with customers of all generations. Two twenty-something dog walkers are drinking tea with their pooches at their feet. (This is a dog-friendly pit stop as a carefully displayed photo of owner Dawn Forrest’s pet shih tzu Ben, 10, proves).
A teenage girl and her mum chat animatedly over cake, while ladies who lunch are tucking into goodies from an extensive and imaginative menu dedicated to vegan, gluten and dairy-free customers.
We claim the only available table and pore over the standard menu (we have no special dietary needs) just as an elderly married couple arrive to claim a coveted place in the cosy corner seats by the stove. Above their heads hangs a portrait of a very posh dog, complete with cravat. The couple tell Scone Spy this is the eatery of their choice; they have been coming almost every day since it opened around a year ago.
We are greeted with smiles by our waitress and our order is taken without delay. We choose a Greek filo pie with spinach and feta served warm with fresh-dressed salad and “hamemade” creamy macaroni cheese and garlic bread. Both are priced at £7.95 and are delicious and plentiful.
But the highlight for us has to be the scones. Baked that morning in-house, we sample our first ever raspberry and coconut variety served with cream and jam.
It is melt-in-the-mouth fantastic.
The scones are baked by Dawn while her school pal Janie Byrne, creates the café’s showstopper cakes.
Dawn, whose earlier career had been in catering, says of the eatery’s launch around 10 months ago: “I had a hankering to go back and then this café came up – it had been a French deli before – it was just the opportunity I needed. But I love all things Scottish, and wanted it to reflect that.”
Scone Spy discovers that as well as providing bespoke and specially crafted gifts, the cafe also opens for occasional evenings.
Blether, 371 North Deeside Road, Cults, Aberdeen
This place was packed and the staff were uber-busy, but they still made time to chat. 9/10
Less than four miles from the city centre, on a busy bus route. 9/10
Bursting with flavour and the first raspberry and coconut combo we have tried. Fab! 9/10