With a new menu on the horizon, lucky diners will be able to sample some of their new season delights as part of the three-course, £20 menu.
The welcoming and deceptively spacious restaurant on Chapel Steet clearly prides itself on cooking and serving the best of Scottish food. On the wall an outline of the country lists off all the producers supplying the restaurant – with as you’d expect – a good number from the north-east.
It’s not just classic Scottish fare on offer here though, yes you can get haggis, neeps and tatties or even a perfectly cooked bit of salmon, but the menu also has a feel of the Middle East about it, with a cumin tempura battered cauliflower and a coconut curry served with crunchy chickpeas and a coriander flatbread.
It was this cumin cauliflower fritter that stood out from the four starters for me. The promise of a light batter was delivered upon, with a perfectly cooked floret of cauliflower nestled inside. The fragrant spice wasn’t overwhelming, simply providing a warm undertone to the dish. The lentil salad base, with it’s bursts of colour and flavour provided by gem-like pomegranate seeds and cubes of roasted butter squash worked as a beautiful accompaniment.
My partner decided to stick to the classic haggis, neeps and tatties, served with a thyme jus. While the portion, as you’d expect from a starter, was small, the flavours of the punchy, peppery haggis and buttery mash provided was anything but.
The soup of the day when we visited was cauliflower, but the waiting staff will be on hand to tell you the days offering. Rounding out the four starters is the very Scottish sounding trout pate, served with crunchy oatcakes and a peppery horseradish sour cream.
Moving away from the Middle East, I opted for the Shetland salmon, served with potatoes, mussels and a lemon cream sauce. The good-sized fillet of flaky salmon with it’s perfectly crispy skin dominated the plate, resting atop an equally generous portion of buttery mash and spinach with juicy mussels scattered around the plate. The sauce itself had a subtle hint of lemon with salty capers providing a hit of seasoning for the dish. If I was to be super picky, I’d have maybe liked the fish cooked a little less, however, that really is a case of personal preference.
My partner opted for the grilled chicken breast, served on a bed of spiced butter beans with tarragon carrots and crispy kale. The chicken itself was grilled to perfection, lightly charred on the outside, beautifully moist on the inside. The carrots, too, were perfectly cooked, firm and sweet with a hint of aniseed from the tarragon. The butter beans themselves could have done with a little more sauce, but what there was a had a pleasant spiced warmth to it.
If, when you head along to Howies, it’s a cold rainy night, I imagine the braised beef with mashed potato would be the perfect winter warmer. The final main course option on this year’s menu is the aforementioned coconut, tomato, lentil and pumpkin curry with chickpeas providing much needed texture and the flatbread perfect for mopping up every last bit of what I’d expect to be a stunningly fragrant sauce.
Describing one of your desserts as “famous” is setting the bar pretty high. With that label I was expecting perfection, sadly the banoffee pie fell just a little short.
Don’t get me wrong though. It was a very good pud.
A crunchy, buttery, biscuit base, topped with toffee, bananas and whipped cram – it’s hard not to like really. However, for me it just needed a bit more of a toffee sauce to really make this dish stand out from the crowd.
The sticky toffee pudding, meanwhile, was incredible. Likely one of the best my partner and I have eaten in a very long time. There was almost a homemade, granny-esque quality about it. While the cake was moist and flavoursome it was the warm caramel sauce that stole the show. Sticky, not overly sweet and unbelievably moreish – next time we’re going to have to order a jug of it as a dessert side dish (something that really needs to become a thing).
Completing the Aberdeen Restaurant Week menu are two further desserts, the first a scrumptious sounding poached and stewed rhubarb dish, served with crunchy homemade granola and a rich coconut milk anglaise and the second, two scoops of sorbet, in varying flavours – the staff will be able to keep you right here.
Howies does a great job of showcasing the brilliant produce available around Scotland. The restaurant’s use of spice highlights this fantastically as do the well designed dishes
The inclusion of items from their new menu as part of this year’s Aberdeen Restaurant Week offering will give foodies the chance to sample the dishes at a discounted rate, and something I recommend you take advantage of.