BREWDOG’S NEW VENTURE – DOGTAP ELLON

Ordinarily when I sit down to write a restaurant review, the first part of the process is a wee intro to the brand; a little ‘get to know you’ time, but today’s post comes from a brand that really need no introduction. Aberdeen born craft beer giant Brewdog is now one of the biggest success stories to come out of the North East since…well, I dunno, Butteries? The self sealing envelope..? Short of the queen of pop and funky hair-doos Annie Lennox, Brewdog basically takes the crown when it comes to most famous exports from around these parts.

Not only now a national treasure with over FIFTY venues in the UK alone, Brewdog is now also storming the globe with four breweries worldwide and a trail of bars from Barcelona to Tokyo. Pretty impressive stuff right?

Now known and visited just as much for their tasty food offerings as their incredible selection of tempting and rebellious craft beers, I’ve come to expect the need to be rolled home in a wheelbarrow after a foodie trip to Brewdog. On the menus you’ll find classic pub grub type offerings to pair perfectly with a nice cold beer, the likes of burgers and pizza’s, but always piled high and with a kick-ass Brewdog twist. With an extensive veggie and vegan offering, I’m never stuck for choice which is awesome. Classic ‘beer’ paired food tends to be pretty meat heavy so it’s always a boost to have so much variety in meat-free options; and for anyone that’s tasted their beyond legendary buffalo seitan wings before, you’ll agree with me when I say who the hell needs meat anyway!

Pint of Lost Lager at Brewdog Dogtap Ellen

Just a short half hour bus strip from the city centre, I was excited for a change of scenery, because let’s face it, going anywhere outwith a five mile radius of your own home is like a trip to the bloody Spanish Med at this point.

Approaching the building, the sheer aesthetic of the place blows you away before even setting foot in the building. Seriously impressive hand painted murals by artist Craig Fisher cover the walls from top to bottom in an array of neon colours, with depictions of fantastical sea creatures, it’s quite the sight to behold.

Given the current restrictions, we arrived early to be able to enjoy a few beers outside ahead of our meal, because let’s face it, it would have been a bloody travesty not to enjoy a pint or two when it’s as fresh as it gets from the on site brewery. With plenty of outdoor seating all complete with outdoor heaters, we were still able to enjoy a few beers despite the chilliness of the day. There are firepit tables for those extra chilly nights and even an ‘igloo’ type dome with seating and blankets for those who really can’t brave the elements.

Last week when I was invited to a preview day at the new and massively improved Dogtap venue in Ellon, I jumped at the chance to go check it out. Never having actually visited either the original or Overworks brewery location, I was full of anticipation to see how the newly revamped site with fresh eyes.

The beer…

In need of something crisp and refreshing after our journey, I started started with a pint of crowd-pleaser and favourite of mine, Lost Lager (4.7%). Citrusy and bright, this is one of my favourite thirst quenchers from Brewdog. Not wanting to venture in to anything too heavy with a full lunch still to take on, I finished with a Hazy Jane (5%) before heading indoors. This punchy IPA delivers zesty, fruity notes and a delicious tart aftertaste.

Interior view of Brewdog Dogtap bar in Ellon

Now with rumbling bellies and let’s be honest, feeling a little bit boozy (don’t drink beer for breakfast kids), we headed indoors to finally sample some scran. You can’t help but be struck by the stunning design of the bar and restaurant. With all of the classic industrial features found in Brewdog bars, blended with the cosiness of built in fire pits and warm lighting, and even a giant shark suspended from the ceiling, you instantly recognise the typical Brewdog quirk, but this venue really has a ‘next generation’ feel about it.

the food…

Featuring a few of the classics that we all know and love, you’ll also find a bunch of new and exclusive offerings at Dogtap, such as a full sourdough pizza menu and a selection of oak fired chicken that would tempt even the most stringent vegetarian, there’s something for all the family here – even a ‘Hoppy Meal’ option for the little ones.

With a burger craving hitting hard, I opted for the Temple of Seitan burger.

“temple of seitan fillet, crispy kale, sun-blushed tomato chutney & hummus served on a vegan beetroot brioche bun”. (Ve. £9.50)

Pimping my burger with extra cheese and completing it with a side of crisp salty fries and an order of blue cheese dip (the burger may be vegan but I am definitely not!), this was just what the doctor ordered. Forever baffled (but grateful) for how realistic the crispy coated ‘chicken’ fillet is, it’s always a go-to for me. With sweetness from the vibrant beetroot brioche and tangy chutney, and delicious crunch from the kale which magically kept it’s crispness to the last bite, this tasty burger delivered everything that I hoped it would. IT’s a 10/10 from me!

Predictably, Grant went for the Beyond Meat Burger, and why wouldn’t he, because those things are frickin’ delicious.

“beyond meat patty, vegan chipotle slaw, vegan gouda cheese, roasted red peppers, baby gem & pickles served on a vegan beetroot brioche bun” (Ve. £9.50)

Obviously stealing a bite to check it out for myself, this burger also hit a 10 on the tasty scale. How in the blue f**k Beyond Meat create these burgers to be so, well, meaty is beyond me – they’re just that damn good. With crunchy home made slaw and a slice of melty, oozy vegan gouda, and some nice acidic pickles, this provided classically served cheeseburger goodness that you just need sometimes.

Also sampled by our group were the Spicy Meaty sourdough pizza (‘nduja, pepperoni, chilli flakes, fresh red chillies, smashed napoli tomatoes, Scottish mozzarella – £11.50) and the Whole Oak Fired Chicken, (details not yet available online) for which you’re going to have to take our meat-eating pals word for on this, but the reviews were that it was pretty flippin’ tasty. Judging by the look and smell of that pizza though, you can bet your ass I’ll be ordering one from the veggie selection on my next visit, just look at that crisp crust and bubbling mozzarella…

It’s not often that you can make a day trip/family day out of a trip to the pub, but given that Dogtap is so much more than just your average a pub, that’s exactly what you can do here. The awesome building which is entirely carbon negative, features a separate beer school room, a games area with cool old school arcade games on the upper floor and a viewing platform into the packaging side of the brewery so that you can see the freshest cans of Punk IPA flying along the conveyor belt right before your eyes.

There’s even a sizeable beer museum for you hardcore craft beer nuts to get a wee bit of the Brewdog story firsthand.

Whether you’re in it for the beer, the food, or the element of being a tourist in your own city for the day, I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Dogtap to check it out for yourself. I can’t wait for my next visit already. Dogtap in now open to the public, and you’ll find all of the awesome regular food deals such as 2-4-1 veggie/vegan Mondays too!

Have you been to visit Dogtap yet? Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!

Until next time,

B x

*We were invited to this preview day with no obligation to post, so as always all views are my own.

COOKING WITH FRESH MEX [Ad]

Serious question time – is there anything better than Mexican food?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a lifelong pizza gal (I’m not forgetting about you boo), and generally I’m a fan of most cuisines from around the world because let’s face it, I just really like FOOD, but there really is just something fabulous about Mexican food. For me it’s all about the super fresh produce, layers of deep smokey flavours, and of course, a good old whack of belly-warming spice.

When it comes to comfort food it just doesn’t get better than a good burrito or a big old pot of chilli, and one of my favourite places to get my tortilla wrapped fix is Fresh Mex in Aberdeen. Since 2015 they’ve been working their asses off to rightly assume their throne as the head honchos of Tex-Mex food, serving ‘nacho’ average grub to the masses from their burrito bar in central Schoolhill, Deliveroo, and more recently also from the Adams bar on Holburn Street.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that since the start of this crazy Lockdown, all of our fave restaurants and diners have been putting their heads together to come up with amazing and inventive ways for us to be able to enjoy their dining experiences and amazing products at home, and not one to miss out on the trend, Fresh Mex have come up with a pretty fabulous way for you to have some fun in the kitchen and create some awesome Tex-Mex recipes of your own at home. Enter Fresh Mex Seasoning Kits!

The kits…

Fresh Mex have taken all of the classic seasonings and spices that they use in their flavoursome recipes and created these incredible and easy to use aromatic kits that can lend themselves to just about any Tex-Mex recipe, so when they got in touch and asked me to have a go at creating some of my own recipes at home, the answer was a resounding , , sí!

Here are the two seasoning kits and what they’re all about:

TEX RUB – SWEET & SMOKEY SEASONING KIT – £2.50/50g

‘Bring the authentic taste of Texas to your table with our quick & easy to use Tex Rub! Just add our seasoning mix to meat or vegetables to create a dish that’s bursting with FRESH, sweet and smokey flavour.’

MEX RUB – SWEET & MILD SEASONING KIT – £2.50/50g

‘Bring flavour inspired by the bustling streets of Mexico to your kitchen with our quick and easy to use Mex Rub. Just add our seasoning mix to meat or vegetables to create a dish that’s bursting with FRESH fiesta flavour!

Both kits are free of artificial flavours and preservatives, and are vegan friendly, hurray! The possibilities are endless with these expertly assembled mixes, but for me it there was only ever going to be one option…BRUNCH! The meal that combines two of my favourite eating experiences, breakfast and lunch, made all the better with some smokey and spicy paprika filled goodness, and washed down with a Fresh Mex Lime Lager, this was going to be a pretty perfect Sunday.

Now of course these rubs are going to be insanely good for meat and fish dishes, but as always it’ll be veggie all the way for me, and it’ll just just as bloody good, I guarantee it 😉

The recipes…

HUEVOS RANCHEROS (V)

If you ask me, Huevos Rancheros (or ‘ranchers eggs’) is about as close as it gets to perfection when it comes to a delicious Sunday brunch. Traditionally eaten for breakfast by Mexican farmers, this is a hearty dish designed to keep you fuelled up for a hard days work – but is equally good for if you plan on doing nothing more than sitting on your ass sipping a few cold beers on a sunny afternoon – we don’t judge.

This is an incredibly flavoursome baked egg dish consisting of a rustic tomato and bean base, usually served on a tortilla, but for the purposes of this recipe I’ve skipped the tortilla in favour of a side of tasty AF sweetcorn fritters (stay tuned for the recipe for those!).

Preparation time – 5 mins

Cooking time – 30-35 mins

Serves – 4

Ingredients

Flatlay of ingredients needed to make Huevos Rancheros using the Fresh Mex Sweet and Smokey Tex Rub
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • FRESH MEX Tex Rub
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (or passata if it’s all you had in the cupboard like me!)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 tin of mixed/black beans (any will work!)
  • fresh coriander
  • 1/2 lime
  • 4 large eggs
  • To Garnish – 1 medium avocado, 1 spring onion, coriander, sharp cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
  2. Bring a couple of spoons of vegetable oil to a medium heat in a large pan. Finely dice the onion, garlic and chilli and add to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is nice and soft.
  3. Chop the fresh tomato and yellow pepper in to roughly 1cm pieces and add to the pan along with a decent whack of roughly chopped coriander. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Time to get the Tex Rub involved! We went with about 1 1/2 tbsps because I love a lot of flavour, but this is a powerful mix so start small and taste as you go along if you’re not feeling too brave,
  5. Add tinned tomatoes and your drained and rinsed beans along with a fat squeeze of lime and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer your tasty mix to an ovenproof dish, crack your eggs on top with even spaces between them (i.e one per quarter if you’re using a square dish). Season eggs with salt and pepper and whack the whole lot in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes (just check that your eggs are cooked – they should still be a little runny!)
  7. Once cooked, garnish with slices of fresh avo, chopped spring onion, grated cheddar and more fresh coriander, plus an extra sprinkling of your Tex Rub for good measure and serve immediately!

SPICY SWEETCORN FRITTERS (Vg)

One of my all time favourite brekkies is a stack of golden sweetcorn fritters topped with avo and a poached egg with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce, you just can’t beat it. It’s sweet, it’s savoury, and it’s just flippin’ delicious. When it came to dreaming up my perfect Tex-Mex Brunch, I knew that these tasty little cakes of goodness were going to be the perfect accompaniment – with a Fresh Mex twist of course!

Get to work on these guys while your Huevos are baking away in the oven.

Preparation time – 5 mins

Cooking time – 6 minutes

Serves – 4 (or two if you’re extra hungry!)

Ingredients

Flatlay of ingredients needed to make sweetcorn fritter recipe using Fresh Mex Sweet & Mild Mex Rub
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • coriander
  • Dairyfree (or regular!) milk
  • plain flour
  • salt & pepper
  • FRESH MEX Mex Rub
  • To garnish – lambs lettuce, cherry tomatoes, coriander, lime wedges
  • To drizzle (optional, but tasty!) – mayo & yogurt (vegan or regular), lime, Mex Rub.

Method

  1. Finely dice the chilli and spring onion and crush the garlic. Roughly chop a small bunch of coriander and add everything to the sweetcorn in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, make a batter mix by adding about 50mls milk to about 100g seived flour and mix until smooth. Season with salt & pepper and about 1 tbsp of your Fresh Mex Mex Rub and mix again.
  3. Add the batter mix to your fresh ingredients a few spoons at a time – (my ‘measurements’ are rough as hell so better to start slow and judge it as you go along!) Your mixture should be thick enough to hold together without being too runny or sloppy.
  4. Bring about 1cm of vegetable oil to a high heat in a large flat pan, and when hot, carefully spoon your mix in to the pan, evenly spaced apart. Your fritters should be about 12cm in diameter.
  5. Fry for about 3 minutes on the first side until golden then flip and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes on the other side. Remove and allow to sit on some kitchen roll for another minute before serving.

Optional but awesome… While your fritters are sitting, scatter some lambs lettuce and some sliced cherry toms on to a serving platter. Serve the fritters on top. In a small bowl, mix a spoon of light mayo, a spoon of low fat yogurt, a large squeeze of lime and 1 tsp of your Smokey Tex Rub and mix well. Drizzle over the fritters, add a couple of lime wedges and go to town on those bad boys!

As a wee extra (because I love me an excessive amount of food lube!) we whipped up a delicious Avocado and lime dip to serve alongside everything. Just add 1 medium avo, about 100mls low fat greek yogurt, two garlic cloves, the juice of a whole lime, a small bunch of coriander and some salt and pepper to a blender and job’s a good ‘un! Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle a little of your fave Fresh Mex spice rub to serve 😉

Now all that’s left to do is gather your crew round the table, crack open a cold Lime Lager, dig in and enjoy! This really is the perfect brunch for sharing with friends or family, so get stuck in and have a good time.

Recipes cooked using Fresh Mex seasoning kits. Huevos Rancheros, Mexican spiced Sweetcorn Fritters, avocado and lime dip.

If you want to give creating your own Fresh Mex recipe a go, you can pick up the seasoning kits, either by ordering online, or you can pick them up at a whole host of locations by clicking HERE. You can even order the super refreshing Lime Lager here too!

If you give this recipe a try or come up with some of your own, I’d love to know so don’t forget to leave a comment.

Until next time

B x

Note – the products in this post were gifted, but the opinions and recipes are my own!

Aberdeen Restaurant Week is back! [Ad]

Yes folks, once again it’s the time of year that every self-proclaimed foodie has been waiting for – Aberdeen Restaurant week is back, and it begins next week!

This means two things…

1. That I’m back as an ARW ambassador bringing you all of the latest recommendations and info that you need to eat your way through the week in the most efficient and indulgent way possible.

2. My so-called ‘health kick’ is about to go out the window so fast that my postie had better be on the look out for my will power as it soars past his head first thing on Monday morning. Diet starts March…?!

What’s it all about?

Just in case you’ve been hibernating for the last couple of years (and I wouldn’t blame you in this bloody weather), here’s a quick overview of what it’s all about.

Biannually, Aberdeen Inspired unite the food loving locals of Aberdeen by bringing us a week long celebration of dining out at a plethora of our finest indigenous establishments. During the 5th instalment of this wonderful belly-busting week, you can expect to see some familiar offers, two lunch courses for £10 or three dinner courses for £20 at no less than FORTY-SIX of our finest venues – wow!

The aim is to support local businesses by giving the people of Aberdeen a chance to try some truly outstanding menus at an even more incredible price. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of frequenting the same old reliable places time and time again, so what better an opportunity to discover a new favourite than during ARW.

What’s on offer?

As well as the return of the awesome £10 and £20 menus, several venues are once again offering Tasting menus and afternoon teas. As always you can check out the full line-up and find out who’s offering what by heading to www.aberdeenrestaurantweek.com to find out.

As if all of these amazing offers weren’t enough to have us full to the gunnels already, Aberdeen Inspired are mixing it up this year with a few new tricks up their sleeves…

What’s new?

Adding an interactive and fun element to the lineup, you can now sign up for cookery classes at selected venues, such as whipping up an Italian storm at PASTA, located within Aberdeen market, or mastering the art of curry making at Namaste Dehli. How exciting!

The one that has really got people talking this time around is the newly introduced FOOD TOURS.

Partnering with Grampian Escapes and Tours, ARW is bringing you a unique street food experience where you”ll take a two hour tour around the gastronomic world, sampling delicious dishes from four separate eateries along the way.

We were lucky enough to be treated to a first glimpse of the food tour, so here’s how it looks!

Starting at The Pigs wings for some deli delights, you’ll venture on to The Latin Way for some tasty tacos, followed by a warming caribbean curry at Tango Turtle, all wrapped up by some incredible ice cream at Mackie’s 19.2. How’s that for a great night out?!

The great thing about these tours is that you’ll be led by a lovely tour guide who’ll take you on a historical trip through Aberdeen’s most noted food facts, whilst introducing you to the faces behind the businesses so that you can hear the inspiration for all that they do straight from the horses mouth.

Tickets for these excursions are already selling fast, so be sure to snap yours up HERE before it’s too late!

This really is shaping up to be the best Restaurant week yet and and I can’t wait to spend the week sharing my experiences and top tips with you all week long. Keep up with me on Instagram for all of the drool-worthy food pics you can handle, along with my top recommendations for the hottest spots to dine out.

As always there are a host of other wonderful bloggers covering the event which you can check out here, so give everyone a follow to keep up with their foodie journeys too.

I’ll be officially reviewing Siberia Bar and Hotel this time around, so tune back in soon to see get the full scoop.

*Spoiler alert…it was fabulous!

Until next time (when I’ll probably be about a stone heavier..),

B x

[This blog post is in paid partnership with Aberdeen Inspired, but as always all views are honest and my own.]

THE WANDERING BARTENDER – COCKTAIL CLASSES THAT COME TO YOU [AD-GUEST]

When I think of cocktails, there are very few negatives that spring to mind – but if I really rack my brain I could come up with just one…that I don’t have my own personal bartender to serve them to me in the comfort of my own home. Well thanks to The Wandering Bartender, you can make that dream a reality.

The brainchild of Mark Herbert and partner, the Wandering Bartender is the most fantastic enterprise offering cocktail making masterclasses that come to you. Hen parties? They’ve got you covered! Team building events? Always better with gin, right?! Whether it’s a birthday, engagement, or just a Friday night in with the girls, TWB will bring you all the fun of a night on the tiles at any venue of your choosing, and you’ll even get a bit of education thrown in there for good measure 😉

When myself and the rest of the blogging gang were invited along to try out a masterclass for ourselves, the answer was a very definite yes. When we were invited along to try out a cocktail masterclass at a castle no less… the answer was a resounding ‘HELL YES!’. The Barn at Barra was to be the setting for the day, so having a reason to dress up a bit swish as we made this stunning wedding venue and it’s scenic surroundings our home for the afternoon, added to the excitement even more.

The event was shaping up to be a pretty epic collaboration, with sponsors such as Hotel Chocolat donating delicious sweet liqueurs, Aelder Elixer providing their rosehip rum liqueur & elderberry elixir, Lind and Lime for their lime infused gin, The Bitter Truth who produce a delicious golden falernum, Snawstorm for their unique Scottish Vodka, and Walter Gregor’s on craft tonic water.


After a warm welcome, a cold crisp gin and a little catch up time, it was time to get down to business. On the menu for the day were a 1930’s Cosmopolitan, a Chester Jester, a Bramble and a Disaronno sours (an absolute fave of mine!). During the super fun and interactive class, Mark took to the bar, sharing his expert knowledge with the group, and testing our own knowledge along the way. With over ten years experience and having worked in cocktail bars all over the world, it’s safe to say that this guy really knows his stuff!

Learning the origins of the cocktails and ingredients along the way, we began to feel like cocktail connoisseurs ourselves, but we were all dying to get down to the most fun part of the day, getting hands on and having a go at making them ourselves. Mark gave us some pretty impressive and skilled demos, and it wasn’t long before the search for volunteers to give it a bash ourselves was on. Can you take a guess at who was first in line, hand waving in the air ‘pick me!’ style..?!

A couple of gins in and full of all of the confidence of 1988 Tom Cruise, I dragged the BF up with me to get my shake on, and it was so much fun! We rustled up a couple of mean Cosmo’s with a gin twist, and the best part was we got to enjoy our own creations afterwards too, delish.

Everyone in the group got a chance to take to the bar whisk up their own tasty beverages under Mark’s expert advise and guidance, with top points going to anyone that managed not to spill and make a mess. After mixing up a storm, it was time for a break to enjoy our creations.

Just when we thought that this afternoon couldn’t be going any better, the gentle reminder that food was also on the agenda set our stomachs rumbling, and probably not a moment to soon with the drinks going down a little too well…

Now the expectation was for a few bar snacks, maybe an olive or two, but what we were met with was the most astonishing smorgasbord of divine looking deli food I had ever laid eyes on!

Food provided by @byplatter

I mean seriously, have you ever seen such a stunning display of delicious delicacies?! It was almost too beautiful to eat…ALMOST.

Byplatter who provided this phenomenal spread are the most incredible catering company who provide sumptuous grazing tables tailored to you, comprised of seasonal and locally sourced produce. Platters include artisan cheeses, chutneys, charcuterie, breads, deli foods, sweet treats, you name it, and you absolutely must give them a try the next time you’re hosting an event that required relaxed dining, because now that Byplatter have landed, pitiful buffets full of soggy sandwiches can be a thing of the past.

What an unbelievable combination of artfully prepared cocktails and fantastic food, all in the most stunning location imaginable. I’ve definitely had worse afternoons…

Huge thanks to The Wandering Bartender for having us along for an unforgettable afternoon. If you would like to book your very own cocktail masterclass with TWB (which I highly recommend you do!) you can do so by getting in touch via Instagram HERE or facebook HERE.

Until next time,

B x