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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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,