Since moving out of the family home and into Aberdeen last summer, it’s fair to say that spending quality time with loved ones has become a rarity for me.
And while the distance between us is no longer than a mere hour’s drive away, demanding schedules and busy calendars have constantly led to clashes.
So you can imagine my sheer delight and the enthusiasm in my mother’s voice when we finally agreed on an evening to meet up and dine together.
Having heard such great feedback from a number of friends and family – my mother included – I thought it was about time to try out The Rustic Grill.
And after several previous failed attempts to get my hands on a table since the Aberdeenshire eatery opened last year, I was thrilled to hear there was availability on this occasion.
The quaint diner is nestled on the High Street of Turriff and boasts a homely, hearty atmosphere as soon as you set foot inside.
Arriving a tad earlier than expected – admittedly down to my eagerness – my expectations had already been exceeded.
While I initially presumed the eatery would be full to the brim – as this is often standard protocol for the team on Friday evenings – I was pleasantly surprised.
The quieter atmosphere provided the perfect backdrop for a much needed catch-up.
We were warmly welcomed and ushered to our table, which offered a prime spot to have a good look around and admire the impressive interior.
We immediately noted the quirky decor leaves you feeling as though you haven’t even left the comfort of your home, and this was only heightened by the members of staff. Already on the topic of which cuisine the pair of us would be opting for, our menus were handed to us swiftly – to our relief.
And better yet, there was no time wasted in our friendly waitress querying what drinks we wished to order to start off our dining experience.
This proved from the get-go the staff could not have been more attentive throughout.
Presented on individual wooden clipboards, the menu’s offerings were certainly varied.
From pub grub to vegan dishes, it was clear to see the diner was aiming to offer something for everyone and cater to varied dietary requirements.
We made our way through our menus, with my mother pointing out a few of her own recommendations, having already visited the eatery on several occasions.
Tempted by a variety of starters, we settled on the idea of sharing a portion of the sweet potato cakes, served with dill yoghurt dip.
And upon browsing further, my eyes were immediately drawn to the grilled salmon fillet.
As for my mother, it was a toss-up between two firm favourites of hers – the Rustic’s Curry of the Day or a battered haddock.
Evidently realising that she was struggling with the task at hand, our waitress approached us to offer us her assistance.
My mum was met with the option of tasting the curry for herself prior to making her decision – which I must say, was a fantastic touch.
Proving too piquant for her tastes, this ended the deliberation.
After placing our orders, we sipped away at our drinks and soaked up the relaxing atmosphere in high anticipation as several diners around us dived into their dishes.
Our starter was beautifully presented, and a sufficient size to satisfy the pair of us before we feasted on our mains.
The cakes were coated in a fine crisp golden layer, yet almost creamy in texture inside, while our accompanying dip contrasted nicely, with subtle hints of spice amongst the potato.
Both were gone within a matter of minutes.
My follow-up salmon proved to be divine, and once again my plate was clean before I knew it.
Every grilled dish came with the option of a selection of appetising sides and sauces, out of which I selected the creamy mash and assortment of seasonal vegetables.
As requested, the vegetable ratio on my plate was substantial, creating a vibrancy that would make all seafood lovers envious.
It was apparent their veg was as fresh as it possibly could be, with the peas tasting as if they had just been popped from the pod.
And with a lovely silky texture, my seafood tore apart with ease – what a taste sensation!
My mother’s haddock with chunky chips, tartare sauce and selection of tastefully dressed mixed salad leaves appeared equally as delicious.
Much like myself, she noted only positives about her dish, from it evoking nostalgia to the sweet-flavoured haddock melting almost instantly in her mouth.
She was also quick to compliment the portion of chunky chips that were presented in their own mini basket.
Although tempted by the wide range of desserts, many of which are homemade, we were simply too full to treat ourselves further.
Despite this, we decided to stay put for a short while and take advantage of the venue on one of its rare quiet evenings before finishing our drinks.
I think it’s fair to say that I could not have opted for a more charming eatery to spend the evening and treat my mother.
Having opened less than six months ago, the interiors are immaculate throughout, while a lot of thought has clearly went into each piece of decor and design element.
And the team have produced an exceptional array of dishes that cater to all needs.
Overall, the diner boasts a combination of efficient and attentive staff, a relaxed and homely atmosphere, and fantastic cuisine that even the fussiest of eaters would swoon over.
Our waitress offered constant aid if we raised any questions regarding their offerings.
While I was unlucky enough to go for such an extensive period of time having not tried out The Rustic Grill for myself, I certainly wouldn’t wish the same upon others.
Whether you live in the city and fancy trying out an eatery a bit out of your patch, or just simply haven’t had the opportunity to visit as of yet, I could not encourage you enough to go along.