FYI: The following post is part of a paid partnership with Aberdeen Inspired for Aberdeen Restaurant Week. The meal reviewed was gifted in return for review however all opinions expressed are my own.
“Aberdeen Restaurant Week – we meet again” I said in my best Bond voice (actor undisclosed) as I spotted the city’s food festival looming in my calendar. But unlike a clash with an arch nemesis, this was a jovial encounter with an old friend.
Back for another food-filled fortnight, Aberdeen Restaurant Week returns to spoil diners from Monday 7 to Friday 18 March. Offering exclusive set menus providing lunch for £10 and dinner for £25, your table is waiting at restaurants and cafes across the city centre. With over 35 eateries involved this year, it’s the perfect excuse to try out new places and find new favourites.
As part of my ambassadorship with the event, I dined at Cafe Andaluz for dinner and here’s my review.
Something old, something new
A regular haunt of mine, I’m no stranger to the tapas dishes of Cafe Andaluz and have built up my favourite catalogue of dishes over the years. It’s a perfect casual catch-up setting and an ideal spot for group gatherings with an extensive menu to cater for all tastes.
Since the festival is all about exploring and trying out new places, me and Rach kept to that tone ordering dishes we’ve never had before. Ok, not completely true. Some old favourites made their way back in there – because, you know, deliciousness – but we gave it a good whack.
Offering diners a cocktail, bread, olives, three tapas dishes and a dessert for £25 – it’s a score of a deal I’d say. For lunch, minus the cocktail, a tapas dish and dessert – quick math.
Bringing a taste of Spain to Aberdeen, one thing is for sure is that taste is cross-country with an extensive list of options. Delighted to see our favourites making an appearance, there were plenty of uncharted options to try out.
- Calamares (calamari)
- Gambas Rebozadas (crispy king prawns)
- Patatas Gratinadas (potato gratin)
- Pimientos del Padron (padron peppers)
- Pinchitos Morunos (pork skewers)
- Tortilla Espanola (tortilla omelette)
- Pistachio Brownie
Starting with our arrival cocktails, Rach went for the Peach Ice Tea which was punchy like a margarita with plenty of lip-scrunching lemony goodness. If you like Pina Coladas (say that without singing) then the Andaluz Rum Punch is right up your street – think of an Solero Exotic melted down with coconut.
The bread basket kept us in good company while we investigated the menu. I know you should never load up on bread before eating but when it’s a basket stuffed with fresh bread, willpower is weak. The salt crusted olive bread – my word!
Bread basket emptied, it wasn’t a long wait until tapas dishes landed on our mosaic tiled table. After a quick rejig of plates, pictures, videos – you know the script – it was time to eat.
Highlight for me was the Tortilla Espanola. This thick omelette filled with sliced potato and onion was unassuming but a forkful of it coupled with the homemade Pixto salsa was a delight. If the idea of cold egg gives you the boke, get over it – this is a must try.
Next on the highlights list were the Gambas Rebozadas. Meaty prawns in a crispy golden batter with a hearty sprinkle of sea salt on top. With tails left on, they were poised to be grabbed and dunked deep into a dish of alioli.
As for the Patatas Gratinadas – a staple on any Cafe Andaluz order of mine – it didn’t let me down. Baked in a garlic cream, this dish of creamy potatoes topped with mozzarella is a beauty. I’m a sharer on the dinner table but with this dish, I selfishly portion my spoonfuls with the intention of pulling taking siege of the crisp cheese top in my direction.
The calamari soon disappeared, the pork devoured and charred padron peppers acted as the perfect dippers for the left over sauces. So in summary, a great meal was had. “A messy table means you enjoyed your food” said our server Olga as she cleared our table and her conclusion was correct.
Speaking of Olga, she was an absolute hit. Super attentive, chatty and a warm energy to have on the floor not only treating us, but her whole section like superstars. We could do with more Olgas in the world.
Warm and fuzzy levels nearly at capacity, dessert promised a sweet overload. It’s always the creme brulee for me but keeping to the exploring theme, the pistachio brownie with vanilla ice cream got my order. A hefty slice of rich souffle-like sponge speckled with pistachios giving a dark sea salt chocolate feel to the dish.
Rach couldn’t stray from the churros that she’s grown to love over the years. The tear shaped sugar dusted churros accompanied by a little tea cup of chocolate sauce didn’t let her down. From that moment on, I realised she had eyes for someone else.
It’s clear as day that this was a dinner well spent. Maintaining its same standard that I have grown to love over the years, Cafe Andaluz is a must on any eat list.
If you’re after more food stops to add to your Aberdeen Restaurant Week hitlist, below are some of my must eats this year. I might even see you at one of them…
- Aberdeen Art Gallery (lunch)
- How Bao Now at Bar 99 (dinner)
- Kirkview Cafe & Bistro (lunch and dinner)
- Soul (dinner)
- The Braided Fig (dinner)
- The Tippling House (dinner)
For more inspiration, read up on my past Restaurant Week reviews and visit the full list of eateries for this year’s event. Also make sure to keep up to date with the reviews this year’s ambassadors and the food team at The Press & Journal.
Stay safe and eat well,
The Food Hoover.