Growing up in Westhill and Elrick, I spent a lot of my teenage years meeting up with my friends for a bite to eat at a number of the local pubs.
When I first moved to Westhill in 2000 – which now feels like a lifetime ago – there weren’t nearly as many places to frequent to as there is now.
Nowadays you’ll find a variety of restaurants including Chinese, Indian, copious takeaways, cafes, and an ice cream parlour, too.
One of the eateries I visited a lot in the past is The Broadstraik Inn.
It had been a while since I last stepped through its doors, having packed my bags for the city a few years prior.
But through my local connections – my mum and sisters – I discovered that there was a new food concept on the go: Bistro 1905.
Launched by award-winning chef Chris O’Halloran, who won ITV’s food show Britain’s Best Dish – The Chefs, last October, I was intrigued to see what he had done with the menu and how different The Broadstraik’s offering would truly be.
Making a pit-stop on the way to drop my sister home, we arrived with an appetite and I was ready to put the venue through its paces.
Walking through the pub’s doors, it looked exactly as it did all those years ago. The wooden bar greeted me in the same manner as it had done before and the same decor and country feel was very much still present.
We followed the sea of faces sitting at the bar and made our way around to the restaurant entrance where we were greeted by our friendly server.
Seated at a table in the centre of the dining room, the restaurant was quiet, with just a few other tables in. It had just gone 6pm though, and as anticipated, slowly but surely, customers began to trickle in.
Browsing the menu, it was clear that only two things had changed about the restaurant – the menu offering, nd the man fronting Bistro 1905. Now nodding to French cuisine, the twist on the Scottish fare sounded extremely appetising.
Mackerel, pigeon, duck and scallops all featured, as did a cheesy savoury souffle. It was refreshing to see a menu like this in the town – pulling away from classic pub dishes, and where they featured, putting a spin on them.
We ordered our drinks and began debating what to have. Would we share our starters? Could I share my dessert? These were the questions that needed answered.
It didn’t take long for our server to return with our drinks. We placed our order after much consultation and then caught up on life – after all, I hadn’t seen my sister in a week and there was lots to discuss.
I could smell the food in the kitchen and my stomach was grumbling. I watched like a hawk as the other diner’s plates met the table in front of them. Soon enough our starters arrived.
My sister ordered the French onion soup and I’d opted for the ravioli with goats cheese.
Her soup looked the part, presented in a large lion-head bowl, it looked French – or at least how I remember my onion soup in Paris being served.
Full of flavour, the thick, stringy caramelised onions complemented the cubes of beautifully cooked beef. The soup consistency was more gravy-like, and the rich beefy taste was just the ticket. Served with a finger of ciabatta bread lodged in the soup and a side of ciabatta to dip into the soup, the starter was a big eat.
The ravioli on the other hand was completely different. Served deconstructed, the sheets of ravioli pasta lay on top of the smooth goats cheese and was showered in freshly-chopped parsley. The pasta was a little al dente, but the goats cheese filling was incredible. Creamy and tangy all at the same time, the droplets of olive oil uncovered under the ravioli brought the dish all together.
Plates polished, the restaurant began to get a little busier, with big tables in celebrating someone’s birthday arriving. We’d come at a good time.
There wasn’t a huge amount of space between courses, which suited us. Venison for myself and duck for my sister. The dishes looked unbelievable, the duck especially with three cherries sitting abreast on top.
The breast of the bird was very juicy and some bits of it boasted crisp fat which melted in her mouth. The vegetables were al dente and extremely tasty, and the mountain of potato in the middle was fluffy and hot. The cherries added a gorgeous sweetness to the dish and complemented the meatier, yet light duck.
My venison was to die for. Cooked to perfection, the meat was tender, succulent and rare in the middle – exactly how I like it. The pink centre stood out against the deep grilled green kale which the venison sat on. But it was the truffle potato, partnered with the venison, that stole the show.
I could smell the truffle as soon as my plate arrived and the taste carried through the whole dish. It was very pungent but equally as delicious. The mashed potato was soft and lifted the dish, and miniature, lightly-battered onion rings were looped around the slices of venison and mash. Small cubes of roasted root vegetables also adorned the plate.
Finally finished, we took a peek at the dessert menu to see if there was something sweet that tickled our fancy – there was.
Both eyeing up the salted caramel tart and the hot chocolate fondant pudding, we decided to share the two between us. Melted in the middle, the molten dark chocolate was incredibly rich and oozed out of the sponge as we took a big spoonful. The sponge was fluffy and light and the dark chocolate was rich and not too bitter.
The sea salted caramel tart was equally as good and extremely sticky in your mouth. Its biscuit base was tough to break through, but very enjoyable and the rich dessert brought our meal to a lovely end.
All in all a rather pleasant experience at Bistro 1905. Although the decor may still be the same, the food offering is quite the opposite and very much at the forefront of what’s popular in the modern day.
The service was great and on calling to book, we were even asked if we had dietary requirements which I thought was brilliant.
The main meals held up against the rest, but the whole experience rounded off my return visit to my old local beautifully.