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.
Everything You Need To Know About #ARW2019 [AD]
After being unable to take part last year, I am absolutely thrilled to have been asked by Aberdeen Inspired to be one of their brand ambassadors for the second round of Aberdeen Restaurant Week for 2019. As a brand ambassador, I'll be joining a team of fantastic bloggers to help showcase the best that the Aberdeen food scene has to offer. We'll each be offering up a review of a venue that is taking part in the event, as well as our suggestions for places we think you should be checking out.
Aberdeen Restaurant week is a week long celebration of the amazing food that Aberdeen has to offer, and the many restaurants taking part will offer special menus, at great, affordable prices throughout the week. These special menus are the perfect opportunity to maybe try somewhere new, try out some awesome food, and of course - a great way to support local businesses.
Aberdeen Restaurant Week will run from the 15th-21st July, and if what I've sampled so far is anything to go by, you should look out your best elastic trousers quick...
I think what you should be asking is who isn't taking part?! There are nearly 40 venues participating this time round with everywhere from Food Story to Selera Malaysian Bistro involved. You can check out the full list of restaurants taking part here. I'm going to be heading along to review The Hop & Anchor...where better to send a beer blogger, right?!
Menus will range from £10 for a two course lunch, and £20 for a three course dinner - so there's plenty of affordable options there for everyone. There are also afternoon tea options along with tasting menu experiences available.
Where Do I Recommend?
After experiencing it for myself at the social event earlier in the week, I think that The Braided Fig's menus are packed with amazing food, and are well worth checking out. They are offering a £10 lunch menu, as well as a £20 dinner menu that has something for everyone. BrewDog Castlegate, a favourite of mine, also have rather tasty looking £10 lunch menu, which includes their awesome buffalo cauliflower and burger offerings. On the same theme, The Hop & Anchor's £20 dinner menu comes with a flight of beers, which makes it all the more appealing in my opinion!
What You Waiting For?
So there you have it, a rundown of Aberdeen Restaurant Week and all it has to offer. Now, what are you waiting for!? Off you go and book yourself a table somewhere. All you need to do is call up anywhere that takes your fancy, quoting "Aberdeen Restaurant Week" to get yourself booked in (because these places will get busy), and enjoy the food. Also, be sure to share your food photos on social media using the hashtags #ARW2019 & #comedinewithus.
So, what takes your fancy? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates, as well as coverage from my trip to The Hop & Anchor.
Street Food & Live Music
You may, or may not be aware of So... Aberdeen & their monthly popup events. This year they have been labelled "So...at night" and on the 25th May, as well as the usual array of amazing street food, craft beers, wines & cocktails - this time they are adding some live music in to the mix.
So... will be hosting local singer songwriters Ella Winter & Martin JJ Simpson as their first ever live music act to provide the entertainment for this event. With an acoustic set full of covers & original songs, they will certainly provide the perfect atmosphere to kick off your weekend.
I'm no stranger to So... and their street food - earlier this year at North Hop, I was blown away by their Firecracker loaded fries & I'm sure their menu will be packed with similarly awesome dishes. It promises to be a great night, that's for sure & with everything going on in Aberdeen right now with Aberdeen Inspired Nights it's only adds to Aberdeen's buzzing nightlife & street food scene.
Doors open from 18:00, with live the music from 19:30. To book a table call 01224 596 817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and you can even take your food away if you feel like it.
Check out the Facebook event page for more info & be sure to follow So... on their social media platforms to keep up to date with future events:
They're Mad For Pizza
You may or may not have noticed, but there's a new pizzeria in town. Mozza, a Neapolitan pizza chain has recently opened its doors in Union Square, Aberdeen. With three other restaurants in Scotland (Dundee, St. Andrews & Glasgow), Mozza promises to bring an authentic taste of Naples to the city. Part of the Tony Macaroni brand, it is the first of two of his restaurants coming to Aberdeen, with another set to open in Marischal Square later in the year.
I'm going to be honest and say that when I heard a new Italian restaurant opening in Union Square, I was a bit sceptical as there is an abundance of Italian chains in there. However when I found out exactly who Mozza were and what they were offering - authentic style Neapolitan pizza, my view somewhat changed as Aberdeen is crying out for quality pizzerias as it's something we really don't have enough of. Pizza is without doubt my favourite food, so I was especially happy when I was lucky enough to be invited along to a "Pizza Masterclass" at Mozza.
On arrival we were greeted by Steph, who organised the evening and Ricardo, the area manager who showed us to our seats at a very well presented table featuring individual name cards of everyone attending. After some friendly introductions before and ordering our drinks, we were ready to start the evening.
Before ordering our pizzas, Ricardo took the time to go through the menu and explain the story behind each pizza; the inspiration for it, the ingredients, the recipe & how they differ to other similar pizzas. The menu contains 13 different pizzas; 12 of them being described on the menu and "lucky 13" which is a pizza where the chef will create whatever he fancies at that time - a nice twist.
The pizzas all sounded great & it was so hard to choose! In the end it came down to pizzas 5 & 10, with me finally opting for pizza number 5 - the spicy 'nduja sauce being the deciding factor.
Ricardo then took us into the kitchen to show us how the number 2 pizza (margherita) was made. He took the time to explain the entire process from the dough to the finished article as the pizza was made by the chef in real time. It was extremely interesting & the fact these pizzas only took 90 seconds to cook (60 in the oven & 30 seconds in the "sky") blew my mind!
Before our orders arrived, the margherita that we watched get made in the kitchen earlier was brought over to the table for us to try. After hearing so much about pizza and watching pizza get made I was more than happy to tuck right into a slice & it was definitely worth the wait. It tasted great, and a perfect teaser for what was to come next.
When our main pizzas finally arrived, they certainly did not disappoint - they looked absolutely fantastic! The pizza itself was excellent, the base was cooked to perfection; thin, soft & spongy - just like Ricardo described beforehand, and the toppings brought it all together perfectly. The combination of the meat & spicy sauce worked together perfectly with the mozzarella & ricotta cheeses. For being such a thin based pizza, it was surprisingly filling - I was stuffed by the time I finished the last bite, but I enjoyed every second of it.
For dessert, there was only really one option - the aptly named Birramisu that added a beer inspired twist to the classic Italian dessert, replacing the coffee with beer. And wow, what a tasty dessert! It was sweet, creamy & with the slightest hint of beer throughout the sauce for it to live up to its name.
Overall I had a fantastic evening at Mozza & I can't thank Steph, Ricardo & the Mozza team enough for having me. Not only was it a highly interesting experience, I met some great people, enjoyed some drinks & of course sampled some excellent pizza. I will definitely be back to Mozza (the gold card I was kindly gifted will make sure of that) as it is easily some of the best pizza I have tasted in the city - Aberdeen is crying out for more quality pizzerias like this & I encourage you all to get along to Mozza and experience it for yourselves.