For those weary travelers, freshly arrived in the Granite city one of the first stops is probably going to be one with food in mind, perhaps also a little bit of whisky – just to keep up appearances of course… Aberdeen is famed for the local seafood and there are a number of great restaurants catering for those looking to dine on a freshly landed fillet of fish or even better: some North sea lobster. Aberdeen has a large immigrant community of Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis and hosts some of the best curry-houses in the UK. A little note – Aberdonians in general are not adventurous with their food and have a reputation to be a little frugal. This makes for a relatively homogeneous dining scene with some standout places surrounded by a sea of extremely mediocre dining experiences. With that in mind I will guide you through the cream of the crop, incorporating inner city eateries with countryside escapes of the highest quality for all budgets.
So for the freshly awoken, lets start with a couple of cafes and sandwich shops.
Foodstory, launched in 2013 is a hip and down little project by a couple of local residents. Providing some of the most delicious cakes, sandwiches and soups in town, it is a mostly organic place with most of the furniture sourced from donations. This gives the place a funky appeal, for those who want ethically sourced coffee and cake. Check them out on 13-15 Thistle Street or at their website here.
The Newton Dee Café is a popular rendezvous for morning coffee, lunches and afternoon teas. Most of the goods are organic or biodynamic. It is part of a larger complex also called Newton Dee which is part of the Camphill movement of which Aberdeen is it’s home. It is one of the first facilities of its kind in the world offering meaningful lives, employment and opportunities to the disabled community. It also is home to large bohemian community of artists and musicians of all kind who provide the décor along with a large biodynamic farm. Come along and support this incredible project at Newton Dee Village in Bieldside along the North Deeside Road. Check out their website to find out more.
Books and Beans is a nice little coffee shop in the centre of Aberdeen serving all day lunches and snacks, fantastic homemade soups, sandwiches, salads and paninis as well as a range of excellent Fair Trade coffee, tea & chocolate. They have a second hand bookshop within the cafe and offer free WIFI for those who need to do a little work with their latte in hand. Situated on 22 Belmont Street, you can reach them on their website here.
In terms of fine dining there are a few options, but I will focus on the top two, which are both serving seafood. Expect to pay around 10GBP for a starter or 20GBP for a main course.
The Silver Darling is one of Aberdeen’s most established restaurants, serving seafood since 1986 when Chef Didier Dejean opened the doors. It is situated in the old customs house right at the edge of the water, at the harbour next to Fittie and the lighthouse. You can dine while looking at dolphins, seals and giant petrol tankers. A unique setting that is for sure. The menu is inspired by France and the local seafood and has a delicious selection of dishes for those tempted to try oysters, scallops or lobster straight off the boat. Find them here.
Established in 2004, Moonfish Cafe is located on the Medieval streets of Aberdeens Merchant quarter with views of the 12th century Kirk of St Nicholas. The kitchens constantly changing innovative menu of modern British cuisine consists of honest food made with local and seasonal produce. It is less classical and perhaps more influenced by Scottish traditions and ingredients than it’s main rival The Silver Darling. Find them on 9 Correction Wynd or go to their website by clicking here.
When it comes to dining for a budget in Aberdeen, you have a plethora of options. Due to the constantly changing nature of the scene here (250000 people and 510 restaurants), restaurants come and go with the seasons. Recently they have been struggling big time. As mentioned briefly in another article (see: Hotels in Aberdeen), there have been a few large shopping centres built in the last few years with support from the utterly corrupt Aberdeen City council. While the council members wine and dine in the fancy hotels, signing contracts with huge corporations, the local independent restaurant scene has been left to die. Aberdonians are known for their frugality and large chains of fast food style restaurants offer a better bargain and convenience than the independent places, mostly due to issues with logistics and suppliers that are easier to resolve with loads of cash. Which independent restaurants invariably do not have. So Aberdeen now hosts many chain restaurants (the kind that doesn’t have any good paying jobs for locals, only in the head office in London and also the kind that does everything to avoid paying taxes in the UK – looking at you Starbucks). I am going to firmly avoid recommending any of those, in an effort to support the local scene, even in a small way. In order to maximise the effect this will have, I will not delve into any criticisms or compliments as to the particulars of each place but rather list a number of restaurants that serve good food at honest prices and ask you readers to take my word for it and check them out themselves. For reviews, check out Tripadvisor, but bear in mind this is a ‘pretty dog eat dog’ scene here and it isn’t super reliable in this context.
For easy going, delicious food, check out:
Angus and Ale: burgers and craft beers at 55, Schoolhill Road or call them on 01224 643324
The Adelphi: honest, modern Scottish dining at 28, Adelphi or call them on 01224 594131
For specifically Indian food, have a gander at these two amazing places:
Rishi’s: authentic Indian at 210-212 George Street or call them on 01224633610
Shri Bheema’s North and South Indian at Balgownie Road, Bridge Of Don, Parkway Inn or call them on 01224 82 1155
For Asian cuisine do not miss out on:
The Manchurian , dim sum and Asian specialties at 136 Causewayend, call them on 01224 645 222
Yatai izakaya, Japanese delicacies at 53 Langstane Place, call them on Tel: 01224 592355
To make reservations easier, check out https://www.opentable.com/aberdeen-restaurants, this is the local platform for making bookings.
There are undoubtedly many more cool places that are opening soon or exist already that I missed out and others that have closed in the time between when I write this and when you read this, so the best bet is to go and ask a local, check out Tripadvisor or just go for a little walk around the center. It’s a small town, you’ll find something quickly. If not, the local specialty is ‘binge drinking’ and kebabing, more on that later.