It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Aberdeen Restaurant Week is back.
Running from 2nd until 15th November 2020, the initiative run by Aberdeen Inspired offers the chance to try the local restaurants and cafes throughout the city at a reasonable price. With over 30 locations to choose from, you are spoiled for choice.
The week will see eateries offering set menus – 2 courses for £10 at lunchtime and 3 courses for £20 at dinner time. It’s a great way to stay within budget and discover a new local favourite.
The Esslemont Restaurant
This year, I had the chance to visit The Esslemont Restaurant. This is a newer addition to Aberdeen’s dining scene so I was excited to head along and see what they had to offer over Aberdeen Restaurant Week.
Situated in the heart of the city centre, it’s accessible to all and seeped in history.
For those who aren’t aware, many years ago located in the same building on Union Street, The Esslemont used to occupy a department store called Esslemont and MacIntosh.
The department store dating back to 1873 (moving to it’s well known Union Street premises in the 1920s), was run Lord Provost, Peter Esslemont, and William MacIntosh, two businessmen who put merged their rivalry into one operation that flourished.
The department store remained open until its closure in 2007.
With a nod to its history, The Esslemont’s interior provides a relaxed yet sophisticated dining experience. The deep blue interiors, offset by gold accents and rustic, herringbone wood flooring; the mannequins in the windows showcasing the working stages of tailored suits; it’s modern yet traditional creating a romantic atmosphere.
The £20 set dinner menu at the Esslemont is one I think will be enjoyed by many, with plenty of gorgeous dishes to choose from. Sometimes set menus can be disregarded for their lack of dish inclusivity, but The Esslemont’s is not one of them.
For starters, you can decide between 6 different options, ranging from a hearty bowl of Cullen Skink to a sophisticated serving of oysters.
On this occasion, I opted for the Chicken Satay Skewers. The succulent chicken skewers are accompanied by a spicy peanut sauce and an Asian slaw. Drizzled with the juice of a lime, this dish provided the tang that my tastebuds crave.
Holly chose the Haggis Bon Bons. Another firm choice. The portion comes with 3 balls of haggis, coated in oatmeal and panko breadcrumbs, which she agreed is the perfect amount due to their density – they are packed full with haggis! They are bursting with flavour and the Arran mustard and aioli sauce complimented them perfectly.
The Main Courses
The main course options that are offered are just as delicious. Think Braised Ox Beef Cheeks with red wine sauce, and horseradish mash or Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto. They even have a classic beef burger or steaks to indulge in if that is more up your street. There really is an option for everyone.
I was drawn into trying the Pan Seared Cod Loin. This piece of fish, cooked to perfection, fell apart at the touch of your fork and melted in your mouth. Served with a fricassee of peas and salsa verde, on a bed of gnocchi, this dish is delightful. The different textures and flavours make for a dish that works incredibly well together. I’d certainly have it again. It leaves you feeling satisfied but due to the fresh ingredients, you don’t feel sluggish and bloated which is great.
As for Holly, she went for the Confit Gressingham Duck Leg, served with mustard mash, garlic greens and a port jus. We were both pleasantly surprised at the portion of duck leg provided. The Esslemont definitely don’t scrimp on their portion sizes, even when offering a set menu at an amazing price. The dish went down a treat – the meat fell off the bone with ease and the mash was silky and delicious. Another win for sure.
Now for the desserts. I’m drooling just thinking about enjoying them again. The Esslemont offer the classic range of sweet treats for those with a sweet tooth, like Cinnamon baked rice pudding with a berry compote, but also for those who have more of a savoury palate and would prefer to enjoy a duo of a Scottish Cheeses. I don’t know about you, but I’m 100% the former.
As soon as I first saw the menu, my eyes gravitated to the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Sticky Toffee Pudding battles for the number one spot in my heart. alongside Banoffee Pie, so it was a straightforward decision and one you will also not regret. The incredibly soft sponge, coated in a blanket of toffee sauce, was beautiful. Served with tablet ice cream, this dessert hits the spot. It could even be one of the best sticky toffee puddings I’ve ever tried. It is that enjoyable.
To finish, Holly also went for a great choice – the Tonka Bean Creme Brûlée. This rich, creamy dessert pairs nicely with the tart apricot sorbet and crisp shortbread. It tied off her meal wonderfully.
Final Thoughts on The Esslemont
If you are looking for a slightly upmarket dining experience, yet don’t want to feel out of place, then The Esslemont is for you. Their gorgeous interior and amazing selection of courses to suit all tastes is brilliant and for the cost of £20, you will have an evening bursting with flavour and enjoyment. You can’t really go wrong!
I’d highly recommend booking in advance as Aberdeen Restaurant Week is a busy week and you don’t want to miss your chance. The Esslemont can be contacted here, where you can also view the full menu.
Support local this November, help your local restaurants and eateries through a tough period and take part in Aberdeen Restaurant Week.
A full list of participating restaurants can be found here.
My previous Aberdeen Restaurant reviews from the last couple of years are as follow, be sure to give these a read also: