Aberdeen’s reputation as a culinary hotspot has gradually been rising and the city now stands alongside Edinburgh and Glasgow as a centre of gastronomic excellence. With fantastic produce coming from the Highlands and from the east coast fishing industry, Aberdeen’s restaurants are now at the forefront of the promotion of superb, locally sourced Scottish produce and natural ingredients. Here is our updated guide to the 10 best restaurants in Aberdeen.
Courtesy Adelphi Kitchen
The Adelphi Kitchen, Aberdeen | Courtesy Adelphi Kitchen
The replacement restaurant to the celebrated La Stella, the Adelphi Kitchen has so far wowed local Aberdonians with excellent food prepped by head chef Chris Tonner. Big, fulsome, hearty meat and fish flavours are the order of the day at the Adelphi Kitchen, where the cooking is prepared following the methods of Marcus Bawdon whose approach involves heating all the food directly over charcoal. In the kitchens of the Adelphi there is a magnificent open-pit barbecue and hot and cold smoking units to ensure diners get the richest and most decadent flavour sensations. The produce used is of course locally sourced from artisanal suppliers – starters include beef cheeks and tongue, whist entrées include steaks that have been dry-aged for 40 days, bringing out their full flavours.
Books and Beans, Belmont Street | Courtesy Adelphi Kitchen
Books and Beans combines great-tasting coffee and food with literature and second-hand books. You can enjoy a leisurely browse of the bookshelves whilst munching on a piece of cake and a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Located on Main Street in the centre of Aberdeen just a few seconds’ walk from the main thoroughfare of Union Street, Books and Beans is ideal for taking time out during a busy day. There are over 150,000 titles to peruse on the shelves, and the venue is also the location of the meetings and readings of Aberdeen’s Dead Good Poets Society on the last Thursday of every month. The food on offer ranges from freshly made sandwiches and paninis to homemade cakes and biscuits.
Fusion Bar and Bistro, Aberdeen | Courtesy Fusion Bar and Bistro
Fusion in the city centre of Aberdeen takes traditional Scottish cooking and invigorates it with ingredients and inspiration taken from North African, continental, and Far Eastern cuisine. The décor of the restaurant is similarly fresh and modern with lime green seats and a Perrier-Jouët Champagne Bar in the downstairs area. Fusion took the Restaurant of the Year Award at the Grampian Hospitality Awards for 2014 with the individual chefs also being plaudits. On the autumn menu at Fusion are dishes including fillet of hake with Provençal mussels, wild mountain hare with suet pudding, chocolate and root vegetables, sirloin of 28 day-aged beef with hand-cut chips, and bok choi with golden fried garlic, chilli and soy.
The Moonfish Café boasts a historic location in the centre of the city on the Correction Wynd in the old Merchant’s Quarter – a wynd being the Scots term for a narrow lane. Where the Moonfish Café now stands there was once a House of Correction for ne’er-do-wells and local vagrants in the 17th century and the restaurant now offers diners the fantastic view of St Nicholas’ Kirk. Thankfully times have changed the place – the Café can boast of having been a runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards and received a glowing write-up in the 2014 Waitrose Good Food Guide. Diners can also admire the works of Aberdeen photographer Sam Brill that are displayed around the restaurant. On the menu are excellent main courses including guinea fowl with turnips, mushrooms, tomato and tarragon, and fillet of beef with blue cheese and beetroot and pickled walnut.
Musa is both a superb restaurant serving up traditional Scottish fare made with contemporary methods and cooking techniques, and an art gallery and music venue in the Merchant’s Quarter in the oldest part of the city of Aberdeen. The art on the walls is all for sale if diners feel themselves inspired or suddenly intrigued by any of the pieces, and is changed every two months to keep the restaurant looking fresh. The cuisine is renowned for being of excellent quality – so much so that 2011 Masterchef winner Tim Anderson headed to Musa following his success in the competition. You can opt for traditional Cullen skink with oatcakes or wood pigeon and Stornoway black pudding to start, then move on to a hearty main course of roast beef fillet with haggis potato fondant and confit garlic shallots, or lamb rump with rosemary garlic mash and port wine jus.
Rendezvous | Courtesy Rendezvous at Nargile Iridag
Nargile came to Aberdeen in 1983, before becoming Rendezvous at Nargile after moving to the current location in the West End of the city in 2003. The cuisine is contemporary Turkish with some Middle Eastern and western influences too and has won accolades for Rendezvous at Nargile including the Best Mediterranean Restaurant in Scotland for 2013 at the Scottish Entertainment Awards and runner-up in 2014 to be Scotland’s Favourite Mediterranean Restaurant. The dishes on offer include a wide variety of traditional mezes as well as speciality entrée courses including Geyik Antrecot Izgara – chargrilled venison served with a brandy and redcurrant jus – and the Nargile special of pitta bread, pureed aubergine, marinated lamb with halep sauce and hot butter.
Back in 2009 The Courtyard was an empty building before becoming a formal fine dining venue called Beetroot and then the more relaxed Courtyard. Once seated, patrons are offered freshly made bread. All of the food available celebrates local, seasonal Scottish produce – the menu enables diners to take in up to six courses including amuse bouche and petit fours at the beginning and end. Amongst the starters on offer at The Courtyard are pigeon with marinated cherries, scallops with pancetta and pork belly, and marinated seabass served with pickled shallots. These can be followed by entrées including fillet of beef with Scottish girolles and horseradish, duck with pear and ginger and pak choi, and butter poached cod with celeriac and king scallops.
The Foodstory Café on Thistle Street just to the north of Union Street focus on providing top quality Scottish fare that is sustainable, healthy, and locally sourced. Established in 2013 and with most of the café built from recycled materials, The Foodstory Café also aim to reduce their food waste and make sure all of the packaging employed is made from plant materials. You can drop in at any time for breakfast or lunch – on the breakfast menu are tasty dishes including Aberdeenshire smoked bacon roll on a freshly baked artisan bread and sausage rolls made from the finest pork from Ellon in Aberdeenshire.
The Office, Crown Street | Courtesy The Stage Door
The recently renovated Office features a stylish granite bar and privacy dividers and has become a favourite haunt for post-work drinks and dining. The head chef Alan MacDonald provides an à la carte menu focused upon fresh and local ingredients sourced from other Aberdonian businesses and artisanal suppliers. The menu has an international feel to it – starters include smoked haddock risotto with asparagus, peas, and a poached quails’ egg; white bean hummus with tomato and chilli chutney, and pork rillettes with gooseberry compote and crusty bread. Entrée courses to watch out for include lamb shank with cannellini bean vegetable casserole, braised ox cheeks with horseradish mash, and penne pasta arrabiata.
The Stage Door is perfect for pre-theatre dining, being located close to both the historic Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre in the city centre. You can sit back and enjoy excellent cuisine before heading to the theatre and you might even spot a few famous thespians. The Stage Door has now been serving up good food and drink for 14 years – the wine list is particularly extensive with over 100 bottles selected by the sommelier and regular tastings that take attendees through grape varieties, the art of winemaking, and around the world from France to Portugal and onto the New World. The cuisine is traditional Scottish with continental influences thrown in too – you can try lobster and king prawn ravioli or Stage Door Cullen Skink, or opt for a magnificent 16 oz ribeye steak on the bone. By Matthew Keyte