Aberdeen Art Gallery – the grand reopening. [GUEST]

One of my favourite past times has always been to while away a rainy afternoon wandering round the art gallery, pretending to be a bit cultured and taking in all that it had to offer, especially when a new exhibition was in town. I was a little gutted when it was announced that the gallery was set to close for a three year long massive refurbishment in 2015, and even more gutted when due to several hiccups along the way, it ended up taking until November 2019 to actually open again!

However there was no disputing that a revamp was much needed, and it was exciting to see the progression every time you passed it by, speculating as to how big the changes really would be. With the addition of an entire floor having been built upwards, expectations were pretty high!

I was kindly invited along to a preview evening last Monday ahead of the grand opening on Saturday, and it’s safe to say that my expectations had not only been surprised, but well and truly smashed to pieces as I walked through the doors for the first time in over four years.

The vast spaciousness of the ground floor hits you immediately as you enter; where you once had the gift shop on the left and the cafe on the right, you now have a stunning open plan space housing both the shop and a cafe space, but on opposite sides, with a gorgeous and well considered open plan.

The next thing that you can’t help but notice is the incredible amount of light that pours from the sky light above the newly created top floor. Gone are the days of the art gallery being a dark dingy place that you got dragged to on school trips with a sketch book and some crayons, this is now a venue that is an absolute joy to spend time in. Oh and here’s a fun fact, it’s not actually a sky light at all, it’s formed from LED lighting which mimics natural light and can be changed with the seasons, so there will never be a dull day inside the gallery again, how cool is that?!

There is an open, easy flow from one space to the next, as you pass through the memorial hall in to the next gallery – of which there are now 19 as opposed to the former 11, wow!

With a stunning mix of artwork both old and new, a breath of fresh air has truly been injected in to this Aberdonian institution, giving us absolutely no reason to moan about there being nothing to see or do in our wee grey city, because if you look close enough, it’s actually bursting with colour.

From world renowned works by Monet and Degas in painting and sculpture providing us with classical arts, to brand new photography by the likes of Martin Parr giving us a giggle by passing comment on everyday Scottish culture, there really something for everyone.

There are even fabulous new interactive parts of the gallery to keep the little ones entertained, plus a selection of sketch stations giving them a chance to create mini masterpieces of their own.

The grand re-opening on Saturday the 2nd November saw thousands of inquisitive Aberdonians descend upon the gallery to see what the £35 million project had delivered, and the response has been phenomenal, with one particular talking point being the new roof terrace which provides stunning views of the city centre.

I don’t think that I’m alone in having eyed up this stunning new space as a potential wedding venue… (IF MY OTHER HALF IS READING THIS, TAKE THAT AS A MASSIVE HINT!).

After a wonderful private tour, our evening at the Art Gallery preview was rounded up with some drinks and nibbles (which were all absolutely delish!) at the ground floor cafe, so be sure to stop off there for a bite to eat when you visit.

You can find all of the information you need on the gallery by visiting their website HERE.

Have you managed to go take a peek at our new and improved Art Gallery yet? I’d love to know what you thought so leave a comment!

Until next time,

B x

[ad] ABERDEEN RESTAURANT WEEK AT THE CITY BAR & DINER – A REVIEW

Let’s start with a bit of honesty. When I first heard that the restaurant I had been allocated to review for Restaurant week was The City Bar and Diner, my initial reaction wasn’t exactly one of elation. That’s just that wee place out the back of M&S where grannies convene of a lunchtime to have a good chinwag over a cheese sandwich and a scone, right? Don’t get me wrong, if a cheese sandwich was all that was in store for me I still would have been more than grateful, (and I’d review the crap out of that cheese buttie too) it just might not have lived up to my fine dining aspirations.

I’m delighted to tell you all that I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the first time I laid eyes on the menu through to the moment we walked through the door, the excitement continued to grow; by the looks of things I was in for an undoubtedly more sophisticated experience than first presumed.

It was 7pm on a Saturday night, and this bright, mordern space that we had entered in to was jostling with large groups of happily chattering diners. As plates of delicious looking food started to pass below our very noses in the hands of smiling servers on the way to these hungry diners, I knew we were in for a bit of a treat.

Having pre-ordered our meals, we gladly skipped the part of the evening where I spend half an hour carrying out the agonising task of deciding what to eat, and went straight to ordering a couple of nice cold pints from the incredibly enthusiastic hostess. Despite having been kindly offered a nice window seat, we instead chose a quiet spot where we were close to the bar and could have a cheeky nosey in to the kitchen at the same time, and patiently awaited our first course with increasingly loud rumbles coming from our eager bellies the whole time.

The starters…

Expecting a bit of a wait, which would have been entirely reasonable given the large parties occupying the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised when barely a few moments later, we were presented with our starters. This made one very hungry gal a very happy one! Knowing that we would inevitably end up sharing each others food in the way that couples typically do, we ordered one of each from the veggie and the fish options.

Four cheese risotto balls & smoked chipotle salsa
Smoked haddock chowder with cheese and leek scones

We were immediately struck by the high-end restaurant quality presentation, this was an absolute ‘wow!’ moment, and long gone were those distant imaginings of tea scones with your gran on a Friday afternoon. We were clearly dealing with creative and passionate chefs with a fine attention to detail, and boy did it all smell good!

The risotto balls were just as they should be, crisp and crunchy on the outside, gooey and oozing with cheese on the inside. The sweet and spicy salsa was the perfect accompaniment to cut through the savoury elements. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I could eat about ten of these…

The smoked haddock chowder was as good and any fish chowder we had ever tasted. You should know that this is a compliment of the highest order coming from the other half who considers himself a connoisseur of Cullen Skink! Buttery, creamy and brimming with chunks of smoked fish and veg, this flavoursome dish was an absolute winner. I seriously considered coming over all Oliver and asking for some more, but resisted knowing that the main was still to come, and our anticipation was now high.

The mains…

With just the right amount of time to pour over how much we had enjoyed our starters, and of course take to Instagram to share our fabulous first course, the second soon arrived.

Sweet & sour jackfruit and vegetable pot pie with butternut squash hash
Cajun fried haddock with sweetcorn, banana and spiced tartare sauce

Seemingly taking us on a culinary trip around the globe, the main course options sang of South America and the carribean. Once again as non-meat eaters, we went for the veggie and the fish option and shared a bit of each. The presentation as expected was well considered and carried out with finesse.

The generously pie consisted of lovely flakey pastry jam packed with jackfruit and veg in a tangy sweet and sour sauce. I’d never seen a dish like this before, but I have a feeling that I’ll be trying to recreate it at home at some point soon! The only room for improvement lay in that while the artfully stacked squash hash on the side was very pretty to look at, maybe a more savoury side would have provided a nice contrast to the already sweet pie.

Next up was the menu item that we were both most curious about. Cajun fried haddock, with banana?! You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds a bit bonkers, because it does, but in this instance the unexpected combination just worked. It was absolutely delicious! Having gladly obliged us in our request to hold the bacon, we were still left more than satisfied with the remaining corn and spiced tartare that adorned the gently spiced juicy fish. Again my only (very minute) quibble would have been that the cajun spicing could have been turned up a notch or two, but I’m a bit of a spice fiend so maybe that’s just me!

The desserts…

Full to the gunnels after our first two amply sized courses, there was a moment of deliberation as to whether we could actually cope with the oncoming puddings, but we powered through in the name of Restaurant week – don’t say we’re not good to you guys!

Peanut butter and honeycomb pie with chocolate sauce
Chocolate brownie sliders with vanilla ice cream and [strawberries!]

As these indulgent looking little beauties were placed in front of us, we instantaneously knew that we were going to give them our best shot. My calorie count for the week was about to go clean out the window, but I didn’t care one tiny bit.

The brownies were tasty and dripping filled with ice cream. We didn’t actually notice that they were topped with strawberries instead of the advertised raspberries as we got stuck in. Personally I’m a warm sticky brownie kind of girl, but this was an enjoyable dessert all the same.

The real start of the show however came all wrapped up in this pretty little peanut butter pie, oh my! Sweet, nutty, creamy and with a lightly spiced base, this was an absolutely heavenly way to round off the meal. This was gratification at it’s finest!

After a night of fabulous service and top restaurant quality food, we were ready to roll ourselves home, already planning our next trip to The City Bar & Diner, feeling extremely glad to have found a great new eatery to add to out list of fave spots to dine out.

Remember that this menu is available until the 21st July, and be sure to book your table quoting restaurant week to avoid disappointment!

You can also head to www.aberdeenrestaurantweek.com to check out the rest of the incredible lineup offering you delicious deals all week long!

Enjoy Restaurant Week guys,

B x

ABERDEEN RESTAURANT WEEK RETURNS! [ad]

That’s right folks, free up your diary and dig out the stretchy pants because Restaurant Week is Back! And luckily for me, so am I, bringing you all of the latest info and top tips on where to grab the best eats as I once again join the ambassador squad.

This years second instalment, running from the 15th to the 21st of July , sees the return of some familiar places along with a bunch of friendly new faces joining the lineup too, leaving you guys completely and utterly spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out next week.

For the rare few of you who haven’t encountered the culinary delights of Restaurant week before, let me recap what it’s all about. For one week only, the best bistros, restaurants, cafes and diners that Aberdeen has to offer unite in offering you lucky lot exceptionally good deals on dining out. Across the majority of those involved, you can bag yourself a two course lunch for just £10, or a three course dinner for a tiny £20, absolute bargain!

The best way to size up all of the possibilities and and schedule how to best fit in as much tasty grub as humanly possible is to head to the website,

www.aberdeenrestaurantweek.com

where you can view full menus, but I’ll warn you, do not do this on an empty stomach because your mouth will water!

Given that the hospitality is one of the few industries that continues to ride high in this economic climate, why is it that we find ourselves frequenting the same old haunts week in, week out when there are a multitude of unique and enticing venues right around any given corner? Aberdeen Inspired aims to break our bad eating habits and whet our appetites for trying something new and unknown by orchestrating this incredible event which is growing in popularity with each turn now that the secret is well and truly out.

You can check out a whole bunch of reviews from previous Restaurant Week’s by myself and the other lovely members of the blog squad here, but this time round I’ll also be bringing you a brand new review of of somewhere that I’ll be experiencing for the first time, The City Bar & Diner, which has a menu so darned appetizing it makes me want to run to the fridge for a snack just to satiate the salivation it causes!

Stay tuned on Instagram this week and get ready to get hungry as I bring you live feedback of my dining experiences along with my recommendations must-try menus that you really shouldn’t miss out on next week. You should absolutely go and follow the other fabulous bloggers involved too for more tantalising tasters of the goods on offer, and you can do so by finding them here. As if that wasn’t quite enough scoop for you, let’s not forget that Society Magazine are covering the whole event too, so you really have no excuse to miss out on this phenomenal week of foodie goodness!

Get booking guys because this is going to be a busy one, and if you spy me waddling up the street clutching a big round belly, don’t get excited, I guarantee you it’s just a really massive food baby. Diet starts after Restaurant Week, right?

B x

Aberdeen Restaurant week 2019

Loosen your belt a couple of notches folks, because Aberdeen Restaurant week is back with a bang, and you’re going to want to get involved!

For any of you that have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I spent a week last September eating my way through five separate menus as part of the Aberdeen Inspired blog squad to the point where I was fit to burst – in the best way possible.

The wonderful people at Aberdeen Inspired have only gone and done it again, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever, and I’m delighted to say that I’m also back as an ARW ambassador. This means that I’ll be bringing you all the latest on what the deals are, where to find them, and where in my opinion the tastiest eats are at.

If you’re not sure what it’s all about, take a look at this…

Restaurant week is all about getting out there and exploring all of the fabulous independent eateries that are right on your doorstep, for even more fabulous prices.

All week long, you’ll be offered tantalizingly tasty menus from a variety of bistros, bars and brasseries for the incredible prices of just £10 for a two course lunch, or £20 for a three course dinner. This time a selection of ARW venues will also be hosting afternoon teas and tasting menus, so there really is something for everyone.

Above are just a few of the phenomenal dishes I tried last year from the likes of The Craftsman, Da Vinci Ristorante, 99 Bar and Kitchen and Bistro Verde, boy was I spoiled that week!

Joining the lineup this year you’ll also find venues such as The Kirkview cafe, Atlantis, Cafe Boheme, Cafe 52, Melt, Siberia and many more. You can find a full list of venues and a breakdown of what they will be offering on the Aberdeen Restaurant Week website, so be sure to check it out for all the latest updates. You can also head to the Aberdeen Inspired instagram for all the latest goings on and updates from the other amazing ARW ambassadors.

I’m lucky enough to be officially reviewing Cafe Harmony so keep an eye out for that, but unofficially, I can tell that this is going to be a terrible week for my diet as I work my way through some of the other amazing menus on offer (ZERO REGRETS ABOUT THIS).

There really is no better time to get out there and explore the best of our local cuisine, so book a table, maybe book a few, and have a fantastic Restaurant Week everyone.

B x

This post is an Ad in collaboration with Aberdeen Inspired.

MY 2019 NON-RESOLUTIONS…


Resolution

/rɛzəˈluːʃ(ə)n/

noun

1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.

  1. “After her near death experience that fateful Sunday morning,
    Becca kept her resolution never to drink again”

Like bollocks she did.

It’s my opinion that resolutions are no more than a way of publicly
guilting ourselves in to doing something that we’re not actually all
that committed to, but feel like we really should be. We declare
these usually completely unrealistic goals out loud hoping that
someone will hold us accountable to actually following through with
them, but the truth is, no one particularly gives a shit. Soz.

That isn’t to say that your BFF’s won’t be super impressed and proud
of whatever you do manage to tick off of the mental achievement
list – of course they will, that’s what pals are for. It’s just that if
December comes around and you haven’t quite gotten round to
taking that skydive, or penning a best-selling novel yet, guess what,
they’ll love you all the same. The only person who will beat you up
about it is yourself, and really, who has the time for that?!

Let me paint a clearer picture here. Here are some of the
things I ‘resolved’ myself to do last year:

* Learn to play the Ukulele and become ‘cool chick’ with surprising
hidden talent reserved for after-parties and impressing strangers.

* Learn German at a passable conversational level for our trip to Berlin.

* Land a dream job, make enough money to go on idyllic island getaway
holiday for at least a month.

* Unleash inner interior designer resulting in well put together and
immaculately maintained Pinterest worthy house.

* Learn calligraphy, become envy of all friends and relatives come Christmas card writing time.

 

* Lose three stone and become fitness inspiration to all those that gaze
upon my perfectly sculpted body.

* Give in to years of hearing ‘oh my god you should totally start a blog!’
and actually do it.

Here’s how these actually went:

* Learned two chords then decided was too hard. Ukulele now gathering
dust in corner.

* Deleted Duolingo to make space for hair colour changing app. Decided

blue hair was not for me. Now remember only two words – ‘schwanz’
and ‘prost’. Not often heard in sentences together. Almost got banned from
Berlin.

 

* Left a job. Was unemployed for three months. Ate excessive amount of
cheesy poofs and remained in pyjamas for undisclosed amount of time.
Surprisingly no island holiday.

* House remains much the same as last year, except pile of unfinished interiors

related projects in spare room (a.k.a dumping ground)
significantly larger. Ukulele in corner does however add to decor marvelously.

* Bought calligraphy set. Actually bought incorrect calligraphy set. Crap calligraphy

set now at bottom of drawer.

* Lost one stone pre-holiday in regimented calorie controlled diet. Continued ‘holiday

mode’ eating for rest of year. Put stone (plus some..) back on.

* Actually started a blog, Hurrah! Am not total failure.

My point is, how likely was it that I would really ever achieve all of these?
About as likely as me waking up on a Sunday swearing that I’ll never drink
again and actually sticking to it…

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still setting myself some goals for the year.
It’s totally healthy to want to better yourself in any way you can will help
you live that ‘best life’ that we’re all reaching for, and learning new skills
is always a totally badass thing to do. All I’m saying is I’m not going to put
so much bloody pressure on myself to be this perfect version of me. I’m
actually pretty ok just the way I am, but this year I aim to be a little bit more,
and maybe sometimes a little bit less.

A little more motivated, a little less procrastination.


A little more sociable, a little less couch potato and pyjamas.


A little more fit and healthy, a little less critical of my wobbly bits and
muffin top.

A little more time spent enjoying this crazy life, a little less taking the
small stuff so seriously.

A little more damn proud of myself when I do achieve something awesome,
a little less ‘I’m not good enough’, because that is just BULLSHIT, and the only
thing ever holding me back is myself. Well no more of that this year. 2019
will be the year of ‘I CAN’.

*accepts flowers, dons Miss Self Love 2019 crown, takes a bow, sashays away*

Have a great year everyone, you deserve it.

B x