Aberdeen restaurant Week 2020
Aberdeen Restaurant Week is almost here, and if you're still figuring out where you to go, then maybe I can be of some assistance...
As I mentioned in my previous blog, as part of my duties as an Aberdeen Restaurant Week Brand Ambassador, I was asked to review Angus & Ale, ahead of ARW kicking off. On a similar theme to last year, where I previewed the Hop & Anchor - a beer and a burger seemed to be on the cards, which having been to Angus & Ale previously, I was more than happy about.
Angus & Ale can be found in the Adelphi, on the Castlegate end of Union Street, operating out of the old Adelphi Kitchen premises, following their move from Schoolhill a while back. Angus & Ale is a haven for Aberdeen meat lovers, with them promising dry aged beef, on the bone for a minimum of 28 days, which guarantees melt-in-the-mouth, juicy burgers.
Inside, we were greeted by our waiter (pardon me, for forgetting to ask his name!) and we were shown to our seats; a cosy booth beside the window. The restaurant already had a few occupied tables, with people eating and chatting away, which was good to see. The restaurant has a "traditional/rustic" feel with the decor consisting of tartan cushions and up-cycled wood panelling on the walls.
After giving us our menus, our drinks order was then taken and I was able to choose from an expansive beer list, brimming with local beers. I opted for M'ango Unchained from my local favourites, Brew Toon - easily one of my favourite beers brewed in Aberdeen.
If I had to pick up on one tiny fault, I think that the tables, certainly our one, could have done with a little TLC - the paint was kind of all flaked off and it felt slightly sticky. But that is a minor point, and even then, I'm probably just being picky.
The menu that Angus & Ale have put together for #ARW2020 is simple, but that doesn't take away from that fact of how appealing it looks. Offering 3 courses for £20, you can also opt for 2 courses for £17, although in my mind, £3 is small change when it comes to getting one of those starters or desserts. My eyes were instantly drawn to the Smoked Scotch Egg, and the Schoolhill Special. Kerry went for the tomato & parmesan soup, and the habanero chicken burger, and we opted to think about dessert later...
The starters arrived shortly after, and I could not believe my eyes. The scotch egg looked absolutely incredible, and it was HUGE! I wasted no time in getting stuck in, and it did not disappoint one bit; the outside was crunchy, the filling (haggis and sausage meat) was full of flavour, and the egg itself was perfectly runny. Paired with the smoky, fruity HP sauce, it was the perfect starter - it was almost an entire meal in itself and I can't recommend this dish enough!
Kerry's soup was packed full of flavour - it was creamy, wholesome, and the starter to choose for those wanting to save room for their main course.
Starters out the way, it was now time for the main course. As I said earlier, I decided on the Schoolhill Special, which is a quiet nod to the old home on Schoolhill. Consisting of the signature 28 day dry aged beef, highland cheddar, bacon, onion rings, burger sauce, mustard mayo, lettuce & tomato, all sandwiched between a brioche bun and skewered with a sliced pickle - this burger was a towering sight to behold. Wow. Accompanied with a generous portion of the house rosemary fries, they were also kind enough to throw in a side of the gigantic onion rings for us... as if we didn't have enough food already!
Kerry's habanero chicken burger, whilst not as immediately intimidating as my burger, still looked great - with perfectly charred, grilled chicken breast poking out the sides of the bun.
I'm normally a pick up a burger and just go for it kind of guy, but I had to be sensible here, and opted to cut it in half to tackle it - which should you decide on this yourself, I'm sure you will agree was the right choice. With so much going on inside, it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate all the flavours, but that definitely wasn't the case here; the beef was cooked perfectly, and full of flavour, the burger sauce gave the right amount of tangy zing, the mustard mayo giving a hint of heat, the bacon added a smoky layer and the onion rings added a nice crunch to it all. I'll be honest - it was hard to eat, and I didn't finish it all, but I really enjoyed it. It was delicious.
I really enjoyed the rosemary fries, they tasted great, and I finished the lot. The onion rings were also excellent, but proved to be slightly too much for us - the were gigantic after all.
I didn't taste the habanero chicken burger myself, but Kerry assured me it was super tasty, and thankfully, wasn't quite as spicy as the name suggested.
Finally, it was time for dessert. After a mammoth two courses so far, we decided that we'd probably only just about manage to share one dessert between us. So we opted for the Banoffee Sunday - because that was right up our street. It arrived fairly promptly, and looking rather delightful - a mason jar, filled with layers of whipped cream, caramel & vanilla ice cream, banana sauce, sliced banana and shortbread, topped off with a sprig of fresh mint. It was absolutely as delicious as it looked, but ultimately it was too much for us, and we never quite managed to finish it off...
We were offered a tea/coffee/hot chocolate to finish the night off, but we politely declined and decided to be on our way, after a fantastic meal. Thanks to Angus & Ale for a great evening!
Overall, I was really impressed with what Angus & Ale had to offer. For £20, I think that their menu is absolutely phenomenal value for money - with huge portions, and great flavours, combined with a fantastic selection of local beers. As far as burgers go, Angus & ale are right up there with the best in the city, and in my opinion, they are well worth parting with your hard earned cash for.
Be sure to check out the rest of the ARW Brand Ambassadors blog posts and get yourselves booked up!
Guess Who's Back...
Like Phil Mitchell making a dramatic return to Albert Square, Aberdeen Restaurant Week is back, and better than ever for 2020.
I had SUCH a blast being part of the Aberdeen Restaurant Week Brand Ambassador team last time, and I was absolutely delighted to be asked back again this year to be part of such an awesome team of bloggers. I'm sure most of you know the deal by now, but in case you have a foggy memory, and need reminding - I am here to give you all the details. There's also some new aspects to ARW this time round, so if you were planning on stopping reading here... then think again!
Easily one of the most anticipated events of the Aberdeen City social calendar, Aberdeen Restaurant Week (ARW) is back for its fifth iteration. Coordinated by Aberdeen Inspired, ARW is a week long celebration of the amazing food scene that we have here in Aberdeen (don’t try and tell me we’re not spoilt for choice!). The restaurants that chose to take part, offer up specially curated menus at discounted, affordable prices throughout the week.
ARW will run from Monday 24 February to Sunday 1 March 2020 - so there's still plenty of time to invest in a new pair of eating jeans...
With almost 50 venues taking part, you really are spoilt for choice. Regulars such as Cafe Boheme and Chaophraya are joined by newcomers such as The Esselmont, Mac's Pizzeria and Namaste Delhi. There really is something for everyone. You can check out the full list of restaurants taking part here.
Menus will range from £10 for a two course lunch, and £20 for a three course dinner - so everything is extremely affordable. There are also tasting menus and afternoon tea options available.
You may have seen a sneak peek of this on my Instagram last week, but in a new addition for 2020, ARW has teamed up with Grampian Escapes & Tours to bring exclusive food tours to the event. These tours will offer a unique insight into Aberdeen's street food scene, as well as offering up a little of Aberdeen's food history. Each tour will last around two hours, and will cost £34, and will need to be booked in advance. Check out the ARW website for more info, as well as tour times and dates.
Also new for 2020 is cookery classes. Alongside established favourites such as Chaophraya and Namaste Delhi, Pasta at Aberdeen Indoor Market are also offering you the chance to hone your pasta making skills. The prices, and times for these prices vary, so head on over to the website to grab all the details.
Last year, I had an awesome meal at both The Hop & Anchor, and McGinty's Meal an' Ale and both of their menus are looking just as good this year. For a bit of a twist, the Hop & Anchor have gone full plant based with their £20 menu, which is again paired with a flight of beers. I also really like the look of Melt's menus, and you can't go wrong with pizza at Mac's. Shahbaaz Tandoori and Shri Bheema's are also both sure to offer up fantastic Indian meals too.
I'm going to be eating at local favourite Angus & Ale, which I'm rather excited about because their menu looks great. Keep an eye out on my Instagram this Thursday for a sneak peek, as well as my full review next week.
So there you have it - everything you need to know about #ARW2020 in bite sized chunks. Do you have any more questions? If so leave them in the comments below. Feel free to let me know where you're planning on eating too 🍽
There's a New Boy In Town...
There are few sentences more satisfying in life than the words "...there's a new pizza place opening...". So when I heard about Mac's Pizzeria opening, I was understandably excited!
Mac's is one of two new ventures in the city by the McGinty's Group (the other being The Esselmont), and it promises to bring authentic Neapolitan style pizza to Aberdeen, freshly prepared on site using the finest, genuine ingredients keeping with the Neapolitan style. We were away for the opening day, so we missed out on all the excitement, but as soon as we were back, we didn't hang around in getting in and checking it out for ourselves!
Mac's operates on a walk in basis (but will take reservations for groups of 6+) so you just need to chance your luck in getting a table, however, it is huge inside, and we didn't have any trouble getting a table, albeit on a Thursday afternoon...
Mac's menu is simple, but that doesn't take away from how appealing it is. There are six starters on offer, along with a range of sides to choose from too. As for the mains, you get the choice of ten Neapolitan style pizzas, ranging from £6.00 to £8.50. Pizza no. 2, Mac's Signature Pizza is one that may immediately jump out at you with its Scottish twist of "Blaggis" - a combination of black pudding and haggis, along with Scottish white cheddar. There is also a kids menu available for the little ones.
I opted for no. 7, the spicy one, with the ndjua sealing the deal for me. I also chose to add hot roquito peppers to it for an extra spicy kick. To wash it all down, I went for a pint of the Menabrea, an Italian lager. Kerry opted for the no. 2 (Mac's Signature Pizza), along with a glass of prosecco.
While we were waiting for the food to arrive, I took the chance to check out some of the cool decor on show inside Mac's. It really is a funky open space, with quirky touches everywhere you look, including retro Vespa scooters and Italian football memorabilia.
It didn't take long for the pizza's to arrive, and the minute mine landed on the table, I couldn't wait to tuck in. The waiting staff offered some extra black pepper & Parmesan, which we happily accepted, and I added some extra chilli oil myself to spice things up a bit more. I cut the pizza up with the pizza cutter provided and went straight in with my hands for my first slice - the sauce and cheese were sweet and tangy, the chicken combined perfectly with the ndjua and the peppers gave the right amount of warming kick and a slight sweetness. The base itself was cooked absolutely as it should be, with the perfect amount of char and chewiness on the crust to round everything off - I just wished I'd ordered some spicy ndjua butter for dipping. It's safe to say that there wasn't a scrap of food left on my place by the time that I was done!
As for Kerry’s pizza, the Mac’s Signature Pizza, she assured me that she very much enjoyed it. I tasted it for myself, and whilst I definitely preferred my own, it was still pretty tasty. The only thing that I can really say is that I found that the “Blaggis” was quite heavy and and a little stodgy for my liking. As for the rest of the pizza - the sauce and cheese were sweet and tangy, the onions provided a sweet crunch, and the base & crusts were cooked perfectly, just like my own.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen my verdict on Mac's - I loved it and I can't wait to go back. Sure, it may be simple food, but some of the best food around is simple! I feel like I'm enough of a pizza fanatic that I'm qualified to be a pretty good judge, and I thought this pizza was absolutely fantastic, and probably some of the best you'll get in the city. It's hard not to compare directly with Mozza, with to the Neapolitan style pizza, and I really like Mozza, but in my opinion - it's certainly every bit as good (if not better?).
I would 100% recommend checking Mac's out if you haven't already. It is such a funky space, with great staff, in a great location, and as I've already mentioned - the pizza is worth the visit alone.
Aberdeen Restaurant Week Continues
I just want to start this post off by saying I wasn't asked to review McGinty's as part of #ARW2019, but after having a great night at The Hop & Anchor last week, we decided to head out again and check out another #ARW2019 menu and McGinty's menu caught our eye straight away.
Having been open for around 10 years now, McGinty's is a firm city centre favourite - located at the top end of Union Street, McGinty's has been offering up hearty pub classics, along with a selection of premium & local drinks for what seems like forever. Admittedly, I haven't eaten there in quite some time, so sampling their #ARW2019 menu seemed like the perfect chance to reacquaint myself with this Aberdeen institution.
When we arrived at McGinty's the place was absolutely mobbed! I forgot when I booked the table that there would be football on at that time - but that only added to the atmosphere! We waited at the bar until there was someone available, and we were served by our eventual waitress (unfortunately I didn't catch her name) for the night, who showed us to our table before setting it up for us, and taking our drinks order.
McGinty's have pulled together a selection of staple items from their main menu for their #ARW2019 £20 three course dinner menu, and it was this menu that made us book a table here in the first place. There is something for everyone on there, with vegetarian and vegan options included. For our starter, we decided to share the Nachos and Crispy Cauliflower Bites between us - I was absolutely buzzing for the cauliflower!
The starters made their way over to the table, reasonably quickly after our drinks arrived, but long enough as to know that everything was cooked freshly. We didn't hesitate to dive in and I started to tackle the mountain of nachos, cheese and chilli that lay in front of me! The nachos were great, they didn't become too soggy with the chilli which is something that can sometimes happen, the chilli was suitably spicy and gave a warming kick to everything and the stringy cheese bound it all together perfectly. If I had to make one complaint - it's that it's quite a large dish, and I would say it almost has to be shared between two people or it could become too much.
Moving on to the Crispy Cauliflower Bites, that were served with McGinty's "house" hot sauce. Now these were an absolute treat, and probably one of my favourite dishes of #ARW2019 so far. They were covered in a crispy batter that almost made them pakora like, and gave them the perfect crunch. The house hot sauce dip topped this dish off perfectly - it gave the cauliflower bites the perfect combination of sweet and spicy flavour that just went together so well. Looking back, I honestly wish we'd opted for two servings of these! At least it gives us a reason to hurry back...
After we'd finished out starters, we got the chance to have a bit of a break from the food whilst we awaited the arrival of our mains - I'd opted for The McGinty's Burger, with Kerry choosing the Spinach & Falafel Burger.
The burgers soon arrived, and we finally came face to face with the challenge that awaited us. Both burgers were pretty big, and served with a plethora of chips, coleslaw and salad. Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that The McGinty's Burger was going to be no pushover - stacked with a huge patty, cheese, onion rings and a big dollop of haggis...woah! I poured on some of the accompanying whisky sauce and got to work devouring this monster of a burger. The patty itself was cooked perfectly; suitably charred on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. The accompanying cheese, onion rings and haggis all brought their own flavours to the burger, with the haggis especially providing an extra layer of depth, almost like a second burger patty - which made it quite a feast. It all tasted great together, but I have to admit that I did eventually start to struggle with the burger - I think that the haggis, combined with everything else just made it a really heavy dish, but that doesn't take away from the overall flavours.
I didn't taste Kerry's Spinach & Falafel burger myself, but she assures me that it was very tasty, full of flavour and overall, nice to try something different.
Our plates were cleared away, and we placed our orders for dessert - opting to share the Sticky Toffee Pudding, with ice cream, and the banoffee Waffles an' Ice Cream.
When the desserts finally arrived in front of us, my stomach was still bulging from the starters and main (and beer!), but when I saw how good they looked, there was no way I wasn't going to be tucking into these dishes!
I started off with the sticky toffee pudding, and it was almost everything a sticky toffee pudding should be; it was warm, spongy, moist, and the accompanying sauce and ice cream worked well with the dish. There was something missing, however, that I couldn't quite put my finger on - it didn't taste bad or anything, it just felt like it could have tasted even better.
Next up, the banoffee waffles and butterscotch ice cream, and I'd been looking forward to these ever since I'd first looked at the menu days before! And they certainly did not disappoint - the waffles were warm and fluffy, the already melting ice cream, combined with the sliced banana and toffee sauce worked absolute wonders for the dish. I couldn't pick a fault with this dessert, and if you choose to check out McGinty's anytime soon, I would 100% recommend it. Job done.
As with The Hop & Anchor, and probably every other restaurant offering three courses for £20, McGinty's was absolutely fantastic value for money, and you really can't fault anything when you get value you like that. The atmosphere was awesome, the service was fantastic, and most importantly, the food was great. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I hadn't been to McGinty's for a while, so it was good to be reminded of what I'd been missing out on. McGinty's, we'll be seeing you again soon.
Aberdeen Restaurant Week 2019
Aberdeen Restaurant Week is here, and as I mentioned in my preview blog, I've teamed up with a great bunch of local bloggers, along with Society Aberdeen to cover the event, as well as providing restaurant reviews to help you decide where to eat. I was thrilled when I was asked to review The Hop & Anchor as not only have I enjoyed my previous visits there, but where better for a beer blogger to preview #ARW2019 than from a craft beer bar?!
Located on Exchange Street, The Hop & Anchor are owned by BrewDog, under their Draft House brand with it being their first of the chain outside London. It opened in March this year, and has been a firm favourite with beer and food lovers since. Offering up a more streamlined menu of craft beers compared to a regular BrewDog bar, and serving up classic pub food options such as pies & roasts alongside BrewDog staples such as wings and burgers - it has been a welcome addition to the city.
The menu that The Hop & Anchor have put together for #ARW2019 is simple, but that doesn't make it any less appealing. For £20, you get three choices for starter and main as well as two choices for dessert with a flight of the house beers thrown in for good measure...it is a pub after all!
We were greeted by our very friendly waitress for the evening, Rachael (Rachel?) who showed us to our table, and then explained the concept of the menu to us, including the flight of beers. She then went off to prepare our beers for us while we decided what we wanted from the menu. The beers promptly arrived, and we placed our orders. For starter, we decided that we were going to share the chipolatas, and the curiously named "half pint of whitebait".
The beers included in the flight were 1/3 pint each of Victory x Draft House Lager, Sierra Nevada x Draft House Pale Ale, and Schneider Weisse x Draft House Wheat Beer. Whilst they were all tasty enough, my favourite was the pale ale, followed by the wheat beer.
The starters arrived quickly after the drinks, in a simple yet, well presented manner. The chipolatas were pretty much as described on the menu - sausages and a mustard dip, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they were a tasty, proper bar snack of a starter, we are in a bar, remember? The chipolatas themselves were perfectly charred, flavoursome and juicy and the accompanying mustard dip gave the right amount of kick to spice things up. If I could make one suggestion to improve them, then it would be to wrap those babies in bacon, because who doesn't love a sausage wrapped in bacon?!
It quickly became apparent what the "half pint of whitebait" was... a half pint glass, filled with whitebait, and a slice of lemon. Whilst the half pint was a quirky idea, I could have used a side plate to empty them out onto as it got a little awkward trying to get in there with the fork. This was actually my first time eating whitebait also, so I was quite surprised to see how small they were - they were also extremely tasty! I really enjoyed them, they were full of flavour and the perfect bite size starter to start the meal. I'll definitely be trying out some more whitebait in the future.
For main course, I ordered the awesome sounding Smoke Burger, which was right up my street, and Kerry went for the Spiced Butternut Squash & Spinach Pie.
It was soon time for the main event and the Smoke Burger mountain was soon sitting in front of me. I could immediately tell, just from looking at it that this burger was cooked to perfection. It looked tender and juicy, with just the right amount of char on the outside. And boy was I right! After one bite, I was in burger heaven; the bun was soft, fluffy and buttery, the patty was juicy, slightly pink and cooked to perfection, the bacon added the right amount of smoky flavour and the chipotle mayo bound everything together with a fiery zing all without overpowering the flavours. It wasn’t messy either, something that can also be a problem with big stacked burgers such as this – I cut it in half and was able to tackle it with zero mess spilling out everywhere. The fries were also great - they are pretty similar to the fries you get in BrewDog (they might be the same?), but they made the perfect accompaniment to the burger.
Over on the other side of the table, Kerry was tucking into the rather hearty looking Spiced Butternut Squash & Spinach Pie, and assured me that it was very tasty. I sampled it for myself, and can confirm that it tasted great – the filling was full of flavour and the pastry was delicious. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was a vegetarian dish either!
With the mains finished, Rachael, our waitress, kindly offered us a much needed 10 minute break from food in order to get ready for our desserts, which we gladly accepted! When the desserts eventually arrived, I had a slight moment of self-doubt whether or not I could accomplish the task that lay in front of me – they were massive! I had ordered the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, and Kerry opted for the sticky toffee pudding, also with ice cream.
Naturally, we opted to share the desserts, and both were delicious in my opinion; the brownie being the perfect amount of gooey chocolatey goodness complimented wonderfully by the melting ice cream and the sticky toffee being perfectly sweet, spongy and sticky without being too sickly. Mission complete!
Now the food was out the way, and stomachs were full, it was time to relax and enjoy one final beer before we were on our way. I opted for the Velvet Merkin Imperial Stout by Firestone Walker which came in at 8.5% ABV. This might not have been the smartest idea as it was quite a heavy beer to finish the night (I finished it, obviously!).
For £20, I think this is absolutely amazing value, and well worth checking out over the course of #ARW2019. You're not gonna come here for a romantic dinner, but for a lunch stop, or some great food over a few, quality beers, The Hop & Anchor is definitely the place to be. A beer and a burger is one of life's most simple pleasures, and in my opinion - The Hop & Anchor have absolutely nailed it.