Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Aberdeen Restaurant Week - Topolabamba: Review (Aberdeen)

Working for Scotland's first tequila company, UWA Tequila, I'd like to think I now know my way around a good tequila menu. And as you can imagine, whilst enjoying a tipple of Mexico's finest, it would only make sense to enjoy the diverse cuisine the country has to offer too.

Mexican food has been a big part of my tequila journey, both in Mexico and in Scotland. Having visited Mexico back in July last year with work, I ensured I tried out as much of the local food offering as possible, eating Nopal (cooked cactus leaves) and lots of tacos, enchiladas and taquitos too.

Looking closer to home, the arrival of Topolabamba on Union Street has very much meant that I can now enjoy a real showcase of Mexican food, all in the luxury of my own city. Yes ok, I'd much rather be making the most of life living it up in Mexico where the sun doesn't stop shining, but for me, Topolabamba is exactly what I, and this city was in need of.

Participating in Aberdeen Restaurant Week which officially launches tomorrow, I decided to check out the food offering that customers can be expecting to see throughout the foodie festivities. Because as you know, February is for foodies.

Heading along on Saturday night, I decided to make the most of our outing and invited my best friend and her finace along. I was to pick from the Aberdeen Restaurant Week (ARW) dinner menu, and my guests were let loose on the whole menu. For the ARW dinner menu, guests can pick any four street food dishes and they also get a portion of guacamole and tortilla chips included in the £20.18 dinner deal.

To begin, we ordered some beers and margaritas, and I placed my order for my guac and chips so we had something to nibble on as we decided what to eat.
I decided to go for one of each out of the tacos, taquitos, tostodas and quesadillas to ensure I was covering all basis. And with a variation of fillings available (which all sounded incredible), I was in for a tough decision making session.

For my soft corn tacos, I ordered the slightly spicy chicken tinga filling. The chicken tinga boasted a real kick to it, and was smothered in sour cream and lettuce too. The soft corn tacos were the perfect size and were very tasty. I'd had these on a prior visit to Topolabamba so knew they would be awesome.
The two barbacoa beef taquitos were wrapped around the beef and topped with crumbly cheese. It resembled a long cigar, however it tasted absolutely fantastic. The crumbly cheese was great for cooling my mouth after the chicken tinga tacos, and I really enjoyed the tender, well marinated beef which melted in my mouth. It was beautifully crisp and provided the perfect 'snap' to it.
The two prawn tostadas which came on flat crispy corn tortillas were topped with fresh prawns, a huge dollop of guacamole, and a big handful of iceberg lettuce and salsa on top. The prawns were small, but there was lots of them hidden throughout the lettuce. But it was the guacamole on this dish that stole the limelight - it was utterly scrumptious and was very creamy in consistency.
For my final choice, I decided on the smoked chicken and oaxacan onions quesadillas. The large soft tortillas were toasted and stuffed full with the chicken, onions and melted cheese. The chicken and onions were lovely and sweet. This was definitely one of my favourite dishes.

The melted cheese was everywhere and the onions and chicken oozed out of the quesadilla with every bite. I loved the smoked chicken and onion filling and felt it complimented my other choices perfectly, although there was a number of different fillings available for all of the street food choices, including smoked chorizo and quesos, black bean and smoked green chilli, shredded beef, spring onion and chipotle aioli with crumbly cheese and crispy fried fish of the day to name just a few.

To be honest, the four dishes, plus the guacamole and chips was more than enough good for me - and I like my food. I think the portions may be slightly smaller than the ones I received so I think by just having two or three of each food item on the plate, rather than three or four, this would work in favour for both the restaurant and the customer. However my guests took great delight in helping me polish the different dishes off as we ended up just sharing quite a lot throughout the meal.
The food at Topolabamba is served as it's cooked, so the food is as fresh as it gets. With so much food arriving at the one time, we all just dived into one another's dishes and embraced it.

Having not see Samantha and her fiance Jamie for a while it was good to just sit back and relax whilst enjoying good food and drink. It was the perfect setting for providing a vibrant, lively atmosphere whilst keeping a cool, calm and collected undertone throughout the evening.
On top of the meal I ordered for Aberdeen Restaurant Week, my guests had also ordered their own array of dishes - which of course I insisted to try too.

First up was a must-try dish for me, the classic queso fundido - a homemade artisan style cheese fondue that has garlic roasted peppers and chopped chorizo chunks throughout it and is served with tortilla chips on the side. The melty cheese pot is a great sharing dish and I always order it to begin at Topolabamba (when I'm not having guac) as it's usually really quick to get once ordering and is a nice way to start the dining experience off.

Calum ordered the smoked chorizo and quesos quesadillas, the spicy jalapeño poppers with molito cheese and deep fried in breadcrumbs served on a bed of roasted brava tomato sauce and finally, the shredded beef, spring onion, and chipotle aioli with crumbly cheese tostadas.
Jamie ordered barbacoa beef quesadillas and a shredded beef burrito which came stuffed with green rice,  black beans, pice de gallo, and queso fresco cheese.

And Samantha ordered the smoked chicken and oaxacan onions quesadillas, as well as the callo del mar - King scallops with Guajillo chilli sauce. She absolutely loved both dishes, but the scallops were a firm winner for her.

We also ordered the camarones a la plancha - two large Gulf Coast King prawns which had been grilled in chilli butter and were served with an agave tequila and lime dip. This is one of my ultimate favourite dishes at Topolabamba and I adore the sweet, mouthwatering tequila sauce that the prawns come with. Usually once I'm finished with the prawns - which are massive and incredibly juicy - I try and douse the rest of my dishes in the sauce - tortilla chips included. At £10 some may think it's a little expensive, but in my eyes, it's worth every penny.

Throughout the night we'd been ordereing a few drinks. Samantha was sticking to a few cocktail classics like French and Espresso Martini's, whilst I was on the tequila drinking frozen strawberry margarita's and classic margarita's on the rocks. Calum and Jamie opted for a few pints and some soft drinks.
It was clear to me we'd definitely ordered far too much food for the four of us, but somehow, miraculously we managed to polish off almost all of the food, helping each other out and trying everyone's different dishes.

Our server for the night had been extremely attentive and was very knowledgeable about the food and drink offering. He'd suggested some food options to us initially when we first sat down, and I was delighted he was suggesting some of my favourites.

Having sat and chatted for almost three and a half hours, we figured it was time to head home and relax so some other lucky revellers could get a seat. The restaurant was packed (as it always is on a Saturday night) and we'd thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

The Aberdeen Restaurant Week lunch and dinner menu will run from this Thursday (1st Feb) until the 8th and booking is almost essential due to the restaurant getting booked up in advance very quickly. Remember to quote the Aberdeen Restaurant Week offer when booking as this will ensure the servers have the correct menu available for you.

All I can say is if you love Mexican food and you're partial to a margarita or two, then Topolabamba is the place for you...

Happy eating guys.

  For Now...

Just Julia












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