Thursday, 29 March 2018

JUST JULIA TRIES: All Bar One: Review (Aberdeen)

Last week saw the official launch of Aberdeen's hottest new eatery, All Bar One, open to the public. Having opened its doors for a soft launch from Tuesday to Thursday, the restaurant opened on Saturday for breakfast following a successful VIP launch party on the Friday night.

In the lead up to its launch last week, I was invited by General Manager, Gavin Findlay, to try out their menu and some drinks.

The restaurant is super fashionable and stylish, there's no doubt about that. It's swish, and decorated to the highest of standards so I was curious to see if the food lived up to the restaurant's aesthetic.

On arrival, we were seated at one of the huge circular booths. Initially the booking had been for four of us, but it ended up being my friend Abbie and myself who managed along.

To begin, we scaled the drinks menu and ordered gin twists - I decided on a Tanqueray No.10 Gin with Fever-Tree tonic and grapefruit wedge garnish.
Our waitress for the night had informed us that there were a few dishes absent from the menu due to the popular demand of some of them.

We ordered a couple small plates to share for our starters and then ordered our main courses too.

First up was the Houmous Duo with beetroot and apple, and classic houmous on offer. The Moroccan inspired dish came served with flatbread, rustic breads, lettuce and cucumber. I love the creamy, fresh tastes of the different houmous' and the flatbread was perfect for dipping into the pots the houmous had been served in.

The Box-Baked Camembert was Abbie's choice, and I was delighted she'd chosen it. The gooey, melted stringy cheese created the perfect cheese string, and we ended up dipping the toasted ciabatta it came with into the molten cheese which was beautiful and creamy.

I had been eyeing up the Buttermilk Chicken Wings and the Pan-Fried King Prawns which I'd tried to order, however, these were two of the dishes that were unavailable. In place of these, we ordered the Salt & Pepper Calamari instead. Tossed in citrus, red pepper and pink peppercorn seasoning the deep fried squid was lovely and crisp, all whilst being delicately cooked inside. The dish was served with a sweet chilli and lime dip which paired very well, bringing Thai flavours into our meal.

The menu itself is rather multi-cultural with global inspirations throughout.
As we waited for our mains, it was about time to dive into the cocktail menu. Having visited All Bar One in Glasgow and London, I was aware the brand is known for having a pretty good cocktail offering, so I was interested to see if Aberdeen's was similar to the other bars.

Throughout our time, Abbie ordered a creamy, sweet Piña Colada, and I tried their Pornstar Martini and the Pink Grapefruit Collins. Both my cocktails were extremely fruity and refreshing in comparison to Abbie's, which would be best enjoyed on a beach. I much prefer to have lighter drinks throughout my meal than heavier drinks, so I felt my cocktails fit the bill, although Abbie's did look delicious too...
It wasn't too long until our mains arrived. Being the trial week for the restaurant, we were aware we'd have to wait a little longer for the drinks and the food, but the restaurant soon started to get into the swing of things as the night progressed.

For mains, we'd both ordered a burger. Abbie got in there first and ordered The Surf Burger which came with King prawns, lobster, and garlic butter, it sounded and smelled incredible. The burger was served with chips and a side of saffron aioli too. I was rather jealous as this is what I'd been eyeing up on the menu, but not wanting to order the same as her, I mixed it up and ordered The Mexican Burger

The Mexican was supposed to come with burnt end beef chilli, but sadly the restaurant had run out. Still keen to try it, I ordered it without and swapped the beef patty for a breast of cornflake and buttermilk fried chicken. The burger featured guacamole, nacho crumb, and All Bar One's own signature sauce. The burgers all come served in a glazed brioche bun with a dill gherkin and fries on the side. You can also swap to sweet potato fries for an additional £1.

Instead of sticking to the normal fries the burger came with, I opted for the fries with parmesan, truffle oil and rosemary. Anything cooked or featuring truffle oil in it is a must for me, so it was almost compulsory for me to try them out. The fries were super pungent and the dusting of parmesan added a slight creaminess to the fries, without all the mess melted cheese brings with it. The rosemary was lovely on the nose but wasn't noticeable in taste.

All burgers can be served with either beef, cornflake and buttermilk fried chicken or aubergine and harissa.
The age-old question of "dessert?" was questioned, to which we both in synch responded, "there's always room for dessert isn't there!?". Eyeing up the churros from the outset, I was sold. Abbie opted for the Raspberry Sorbet which was zesty and refreshing. The light dessert was great for cleansing her palette and tasted extremely fresh.

I ordered the Churros of course but asked for a smaller portion. On the menu, it states there's enough to share and after the waitress had informed me that there's usually TEN churros with the dish, I was relieved I'd just asked for a few. Dusted with cinnamon sugar, the churros came served with warmed dulce de leche sauce and it was divine. I polished them all off - even though it was a struggle. All of the churros were beautifully crisp on the outside and lovely and fluffy in the middle and resulted in the ideal way to finish off our meal at All Bar One.
The interiors are stunning, and the views of Marischal College are breathtaking - or at least they will be once all of the road works have been completed. The bar has been finished to the highest spec, and its super modern and trendy look makes it a great stomping group for locals to meander along to for food or some drinks.

Seating around 250 people, with additional capacity for customers to stand, All Bar One boasts a large ground floor space at Marischal Square. And with comfortable, fashionable seating, it's going to be hard to pull yourself away from the bar once you've arrived.
A great space to hang out with friends or catch up with the in-laws, All Bar One has something for everyone. It's vegetarian and vegan menu is pretty plentiful too, and the team has done a great job in pulling together a food and drinks menu to suit all.

Having not even been open to the public for a week yet, the bar is already proving to be a popular hot-spot for local professionals and is guaranteed to be a sophisticated, classy party venue at weekends.

  For Now...

Just Julia


Monday, 26 March 2018

JUST JULIA COOKS: Duck a L'orange

Eating out is something I adore doing. It's like shopping for fashion addicts or the latest lip-kit release for beauty fanatics. However, I do love to spend time in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes. As part of my New Year's resolutions - many of which have already been panned - I've decided to challenge myself to cook more, without putting too much pressure on myself of course.

This challenge is something I'm really excited about, and although I usually live off stir fry's I want to cook dishes I've never tackled before.

Having a really busy work schedule, I sometimes find it hard to fit in time in the evening to cook so dishes that are quick and easy to make are a must for me. With Spring slowly creeping in - providing the Beast of the Beast.3 doesn't make an appearance later on this week - I've turned my attention to light, fragrant dishes. Queue Duck a L'Orange, a delicious French dish with a stunning sweet yet slightly tart sauce.

I served mine with hasselback potatoes, but I'd also recommend having it with rice too or stir fry vegetables.

Serves: 2

Pre/cooking Time: Around 15-20 minutes

  • 120ml of honey
  • 2 large oranges (1 peeled and separated into segments and 1 for juicing)
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 2 duck breasts seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 small handful of chopped thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of orange zest

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Score the skin of the duck breasts and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  3. Peel one of the oranges and separate the segments of the orange. Zest the second orange and cut in half. Juice both halves of the orange into a cup.
  4. Cook the duck on one side in a pan on a low-medium heat until the skin is crisp and the duck is cooked. Flip over and seal the duck for about 30 seconds.
  5. Put the duck in the oven on a baking tray for around 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Whilst the duck is cooking, put the squeezed orange juice, honey, orange zest, shallots and thyme. Once simmering, add the orange segments and continue to simmer until sticky. Take off the heat until needed.
  7. Remove the duck from the oven and glaze some of the sauce over the skin. Place back in the oven for 2 minutes to crisp up more. Take out of the oven and allow the duck breasts to rest.
  8. Bring the sauce back up to heat and place the duck breasts on a plate - serve the sauce on top of the duck. Add rice, potatoes vegetables or anything else you would like to the plate to finish the dish off and enjoy! 

  For Now...

Just Julia

JUST JULIA TRIES: New cocktail menu at Orchid: Review (Aberdeen)

One of Aberdeen's leading cocktail bars has officially launched a new menu - and this time, the new menu's concept once again plays homage to Professor Jerry Thomas' "fancy drinks" categories.

Orchid Aberdeen officially launched their new menu just under two weeks ago which saw 13 new drinks take to the menu, with the addition of the infamous Pink Orchid which has been on the menu since Orchid opened in 2007.

Arriving on Thursday night, I'd brought one of my best friend's along to try out a couple of the new drinks. Although, little did I know we'd end up trying out over half of the menu!

Greeted by the wonderful Nick Gordon who is an award-winning bartender and the General Manager of the bar, he showed us to our seats and presented us with cucumber infused water.

Scaling the menu, Nick talked us through the concept behind it and offered us an AJ's Knockout cocktail as we decided on which drink to try out after.

AJ's Knockout was phenomenal, and quite possibly one of my favourites of the night. The Havana Especial based drink was made with clarified milk, pineapple, raspberry and strawberry, and was extremely sweet and light. It was so easy to drink and was a drink you could sip all day throughout the summer months. I think it may be my new take on Aperol Spritz.
Next up we decided to dive into something a little more fruity. Rachel went for Smoke But No Cigar - a tropical tiki style drink made with Monkey Shoulder, Pere Magloire, Martell VS, mango cordial, and lapsang syrup. Although fruity, the drink was also rather smokey too and made for a refreshing long drink.

I opted for the Woodstock Revival. Served in a highball, the El Jimador tequila created with Lustau White Vermouth, St Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon and Patchouli tincture is a long, herbal cocktail. Not only is it nice and light, it's not too alcohol-heavy and again, is another great cocktail for summer.
Both gin lovers, we'd simultaneously looked at the Grannie's Smith cocktail. But the good friend I am, I decided it was only fair Rachel got the honours of trying it out. Instead, I decided to order the D.I.Y Bru. A spritz cocktail, this was also a gin based drink featuring Aberdeen's first gin in over 100 years, Porter's Gin. The drink also boasted Amaro, Monrenegro, citric acid, prosecco and Dr Adam Elmegirab's Bitters & Botanical Spirits Spanish Bitters. The short, alcoholic Irn Bru was scrumptious and tasted as good as it sounds.

Grannie's Smith was created with Porter's Gin, Briottet Apple liqueur, guava cordial, lemon juice, Dr Adam Elmegirab's Bitters & Botanical Spirits Spanish Bitters and egg white. The fruity and sweet cocktail was ideal for Rachel's sweet palette and came garnished with a pansy.
Next up I decided to try out the American Pharaoh and Rachel tried the Maya & Elena. My American Pharaoh was a julep style with Martell VS, Briottet Peach liqueur, malic acid, peach and pink peppercorn syrup, and garnished with mint. The fresh drink was nice on the nose, and the cocktail itself was extremely crisp and light.

Rachel's Maya & Elena was a milanese style drinks. With Four Roses Bourbon, Amaro, Montenegro, thyme cordial, orange shrub and lemon, the drinks was more tart and bitter than my fresh, fruity cocktail. Herbaceous and with a shed load of citrus, it was beautifully refreshing.
Working the following day, we decided to call it a night after one last drink.

Sherry Shoes for me, and PB & P for Rachel. The Sherry Shoes cocktail was very delicious and not what I had expected. I've not ever really liked sherry, however the fino sherry cocktail was extremely refreshing and the strong taste of fresh kiwi was what sold this drink for me. Not only did it have fresh kiwi and sherry in it, it also boasted lemon, and kiwi syrup too.

Rachel's PB & P was a twist on a classic Bellini. The sparking cocktail boasted a pineapple and blackberry cordial topped with prosecco. The fizzy, fruity drink was the perfect way to round off our night and was rather fitting for the celebratory occasion.
We were also treated to a cheese and meats board which featured a number of local cheeses from Devenick Dairy. The creamy cheeses went well with the flavoured bread and oatcakes, and the chutney and meats also complimented many of the cocktails with their pungent flavours. There was a nice variety of salty, spicy, and sweeter cured meats which made for the perfect snack.
Heading home for the night, I would say we'd manged to get a real insight into the talent behind the bar in Orchid. It's clear from their diverse menu that this is one impressive team who know their stuff when it comes to creating innovative, creative, yet simplistic cocktails. With drinks trends continuously changing the team stay in the know and bring unique, handcrafted drinks to the people of Aberdeen year in year out.

  For Now...

Just Julia

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

JUST JULIA TRIES: The Mixing Bowl Spotlight on Food event: Review (Aberdeenshire)

The North-east is blessed to be the home of numerous incredible food producers, not to mention the talented people driving these independent businesses forward. From local food markets to cooking events, to festivals and tastings, producers across the City and Shire work tirelessly to create delicious products which us lucky individuals get to enjoy a taste of.

One community food group looking to put Aberdeenshire on Scotland's food and drink map is The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen. A committee of passionate people, The Mixing Bowl actively aims to bring people together to learn, discover, and share everything to do with food.

Offering talks, tastings, demonstrations and workshops, local individuals get the opportunity to attend events organised by the group to share their love of good food with others, and even share their skills and different recipes that they cherish too. Not only does the group offer various food and drink events throughout the year, they are also behind the successful Deeside Local Food Festival which has grown in size every year since first establishing in 2015. Now an annual highlight for the local community and foodies from afar, it's no wonder over 3,500 visitors attended to seek out the 49 local food and drink producers exhibiting from across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Another main event the team at The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen organise is its Spotlight on Food event which was held at The Barn and Buchanan's Bistro in Banchory just under two weeks ago. Having been invited along by Rachel Gambro, Chairperson of The Mixing Bowl and Co-founder of Deeside Local Food Festival, I was intrigued and excited to see what the event was all about.

Consisting of an Aberdeenshire producers market which saw over ten producers showcase their offering for two hours, and a seven-course producers dinner which followed, I knew this event was a recipe for success before even stepping foot into it.
Arriving with my good friend Ellie from The Veg Co, I happily helped her set up ahead of the event opening and set off to chat to some of the producers before the public arrived. Getting the opportunity to speak to the people behind the business' and find out where the drive and passion for their business comes from was truly fantastic. Very often do you get to speak to the individuals out milking the cows or growing the crops, so to get the chance to do so and really spend time with them was brilliant.

After opening, it didn't take long for the room to fill up, and it was great to see such a good turn out for the event. Kicking off at 5.30pm, many people had decided to make an evening of the event and had also booked to attend the dinner. The producers market which took place from 5.30 - 7.30pm,  was free to attend for everyone, however, there was a small and very reasonable charge for the evening meal.

Producers at the market included:
As well as showcasing the different businesses at the producers market, The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen also arranged for a showing of the producer's video - which had been created for the Deeside Food Festival - to be aired, outlining a day in the life of some of these fantastic local producers. 

A local Scottish harpist also played music throughout the producers market, creating a relaxing ambience as customers meandered from one stall to another.
Katy's Eggs
Rora Dairy
Bakery Lane
Louise's Kitchen Farm
HM Sheridan
Udny Provender 
A Taste of the Wild
Hungry Squirrel
Pasta Mia
Letty's Preserves
The Alexander Smokery
The Veg Co.

After spending two hours sampling, tasting and experimenting with new flavours and products, it was time to pack up the market stalls and head through to Buchanan's Bistro to enjoy the seven-course producer's dinner Val Buchanan had designed for everyone.

Two of the drinks producers had also created a cocktail together which was available for those attending the market to try out. 
The drink was called 'Deeside Royale' and featured Lost Loch Distillery's Eenoo gin and Haroosh, as well as the Udny Provender's shrub.

Alas, it was now finally time to showcase the food in all its glory.

First up was The Alexander Smokery's traditionally smoked salmon, garnished with Katy's free-range Eggs and accompanied by Calum's bread. The eggs were absolutely gorgeous and the yolks were a beautiful bright orange colour. I'd heard great things about Katy's Eggs and was delighted to finally be getting the chance to try them. They were the perfect size for the dish and went very well with the fish and bread. The salmon paired well with it, and the squeeze of fresh lemon I added heightened the taste of the dish overall.
The second course was Louise's Farm Kitchen's shredded pork served with a chilli and honey dressing which had been created by using The Veg Co's sweet chilli jam, and the Udny Provender's homemade honey.

The dressing had a lovely kick to it and worked very well with the tender pork. It wasn't overly sweet at all like I had envisioned due to the sweet chilli jam and honey being mixed together, it just worked wonders together and created a very unique and tasty sauce. The pork was sublime and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Next up was hand-made tagliatelle pasta made by Pasta Mia, tossed in Hungry Squirrel's ABC Mix nut butter.

The pasta was divine and you could tell instantly the high quality of it. The nut butter had not been something I had considered adding to pasta, however after trying it, it worked so well together that it made perfect sense to pair the two. I finished it in no time and once again, my plate was empty.
The fourth dish was the lightest and most fragrant out of all the offering. The carpaccio of venison from Taste of the Wild was dressed in a vinegar by Letty's Preserves and served with tomatoes grown by The Veg Co. The carpaccio was very tender and melted in your mouth. The raw meat was extremely succulent and dispersed almost immediately on my tongue.

The tomatoes were beautiful and tangy, whilst being extremely juicy and sweet all at the same time. The carpaccio was good, but it was the ripe, thinly sliced tomatoes that stole the show for me with this dish.
For what I would outline as the main course of the marathon dinner, we were served HM Sheridans of Ballater smoked rump which came topped with dauphinoise potatoes and was served on a bed of puréed parsnips from Vital Veg. The dish was finished with a curried yogurt dressing made with Rora Dairy yogurt and Nino's Marsala.

The rump was cooked to perfection and was served medium/rare which I very much enjoyed. I loved the parsnip purée and the addition of the dauphinoise potatoes rounded off the dish in the most spectacular way. The curried yogurt dressing was also a nice touch and really added to the tender rump's flavour.

Our fifth course of the meal, I was starting to get full, but I was very much enjoying the whole concept of getting to indulge in small dishes which truly showcased how the food from the local producers could be presented. It was great to see what you could actually create with them and was inspiring me to think about buying these different products to re-create some of these dishes at home myself.
The sixth course was something sweet. A boozy smoothie with Haroosh ice cream, however, we weren't served ice cream, but instead, we received a ball of semolina. 

The boozy smoothie was made with yogurt from Rora Dairy, milk from Forrest Farm and Lost Loch Distillery's Haroosh. I'm not really a big fan of yogurt so this wasn't really my cup of tea, but a lot of the other guests around me seemed to enjoy it. I'd also never tried semolina before so this was a first, and probably last for me. On this ocassion, semolina and I did not agree, but everyone's tastes vary.

The dish looked stunning and was served along with a homemade oaty biscuit which I was very keen to try it out too. Unfortunately, it boasted aniseed in it - one of the only foods I detest - so I decided to give the biscuit a miss.  

Had the dessert featured anything other than a smoothie and an aniseed biscuit, I'm sure I'd have dominated it too, but I was glad to have had the opportunity to try it and broaden my horizon of trying new ingredients and flavours too.
The final course was an array of local artisan cheeses from Cambus O'May Cheese Company. Specialising in cheddars, we were treated to mature and light cheddar cheeses and they were both incredible. Both kinds of cheese were extremely soft and the cheese was super smooth and was very creamy in your mouth. 

The Bistro spelt oatcakes were created with spelt flour from Westfield Farms and were also very tasty. I very much enjoyed this and for me, it was the perfect way to end the meal.
To finish, we were treated to homemade fudge by Lisa Jayne's Kitchen which accompanied the teas and coffees. She had created a salted caramel flavour and her gin and lemon flavoured fudge for the occasion. It was hands down the best fudge I've ever had, and I was taken aback at just how good it was. It was so creamy and rich, packed full of flavour and deliciously sweet, exactly what you'd want out of a sweet treat. I scoffed the salted caramel one and ended up sneaking a piece of the gin and lemon flavour too because when there's the opportunity to treat yourself to a second piece of the best fudge, you've got to take it.

I was very impressed with the event as a whole and thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spotlight on Food. Not only did I get the opportunity to meet a variety of very different local producers, I also got the chance to have dinner with them and truly see their products in action. The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen had worked tirelessly to ensure the event was a big hit, and that it was. Rounded off with a raffle which gave individuals the chance to win prizes it ended on a real high.

The dinner was very well priced and I thought a seven-course meal for £32 was exceptional. I'd love to see this event travel across the City and Shire, showcasing various other producers as it makes its way across the region. This is definitely something I would want to introduce to my friends and family, and I know they would absolutely love it. Hands down to the team at The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen, I can't wait for the next one!

  For Now...

Just Julia
© Just Julia

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig