Recently I met up with food bloggers Lost in Food for lunch. Every time we meet up for a bite to eat, we always seem to frequent to the same place – Moonfish Cafe.
Established in 2004, the restaurant has been a favourite of Aberdonians for many years, and one I usually only tend to visit on special occasions.
Many of my friends associate the restaurant with being more on the expensive side, but actually, when it comes to lunch, the offering is extremely affordable when taking into consideration the time and effort that has gone into developing every ingredient for each dish.
Owned by Brian McLeish – who reached the final of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2014 – the restaurant, which features menus of modern British cuisine, is situated at Merchant Quarter.
My catch up inspired me to book lunch immediately for my boyfriend and I so we could spend some quality time together – all while enjoying delicious food of course.
The sun was shining on the Saturday afternoon we arrived and in true fashion, we’d brought an appetite. Entering the narrow entrance, something had changed since my last visit.
The walls at the back of the restaurant now donned an art exhibition.
Our table was to the rear so we got a good nosey of local artist Laura Bremner of Juniper Press’ artwork.
The works were very impressive and nodded to the restaurant too.
On the menu, there was a selection of four or five dishes for each course. All of which are completely different. I’d recently tried the soda bread with marinated olives and truffle cream cheese, and the mussels too, so I decided to opt for something new, the crispy potato.
The curried potatoes were deep fried and cut into small cuboids, the potato crumbled in my mouth and the bright mustard-coloured sauce was extremely rich and creamy. The madras curry flavour consumed my taste buds. Sprinkled with thin shavings of cheese on top, a posh version of chips, cheese and curry sauce sprung to mind. I scraped my plate clean and took in the flavour journey I’d just returned from.
My boyfriend’s pressed ham hough was also equally as delightful. Sitting on thin slices of pickled apple which were almost transparent because they were so thin, the ham hough and kohlrabi mix was absolutely divine. Fresh and juicy the dish was complemented with homemade coleslaw that was incredibly creamy and crunchy. The ham hough was served cold and pulled apart effortlessly. It had a lovely smokey aftertaste that added a much-welcomed tartness to the dish.
Ordering a second round of drinks, we sat watching the world go by through the huge windows of the restaurant and admired the quirky art on the walls.
Arriving shortly after, the mains were just as good as the starters.
A fish that’s not as popular as most, I ordered the hake for main after a friend recommended it. I’d tried the pork shoulder massaman weeks prior, and with my starter featuring massaman, I figured the hake was a solid choice. It was.
The fish tore apart and was topped with grilled spring onion and a crumbed brown butter which melted on my tongue before I could even swallow it. Crisp, the puffed rice gave it a wee crunch. The sauce was a spectacle and its vibrant green hue against the white plate made it look like a work of art. My boyfriend’s dish looked equally as tasty.
My initial first choice, I decided to let him enjoy the lamb dish. The lamb rump dish boasted a crumbed sweetbread which was to die for. Succulent, the lamb was perfectly cooked. In season, it paired well with the slightly al dente brocollini stems. Served on a bed of sweeter polenta, the richness of the lamb, the earthiness of the brocollini and the sweetbread all came together.
Comfortable, we decided it was best to share a dessert between us. I knew immediately it would be the chocolate cremeux we’d be sharing, although the honeycomb parfait did cross my mind.
A long rectangle of dark chocolate mousse sat on a bed of biscuit crumbs. The spoonful of ice cream on the side had a hint of orange to it, and partnering the two, went perfectly individually and together. The burnt salted caramel sauce was the stand out for me, albeit a little overpowering. The hazelnuts added a nuttiness to the dish and a whole new texture. Again, the dish was beautifully presented and tasted phenomenal.
Each and every ingredient on every plate had purpose and the ingredients were presented in ways I didn’t feel were possible. The whole dining experience was exciting from start to finish and my boyfriend thought exactly the same.
Having been established for 15 years now, it’s clear the team at Moonfish Cafe are doing something right.
Located in the heart of Aberdeen, the cobbled street leading to it and the view of the 12th Century Kirk of St Nicholas, makes for the perfect location for a restaurant that champions local produce and innovative practices, all while developing stand out dishes.
Our waitress was knowledgeable and offered advice and guidance when needed, not to mention was very hospitable and attentive.
The food is second to none and the price tag for lunch was outstanding value for money. It was clear that so much effort had been put into every single dish.
Brian and his team bring something unique and fresh to the dining scene.
Side note: be sure to check out their new tasting menu which has just launched this week.