THE Mains of Scotstown Inn is hidden among the homes of Aberdeen’s Bridge of Don.
Fortunately, it’s well sign-posted but it’s still something of a surprise to find the building at the end of the road.
The inn prides itself on sourcing the best local food, and that ethic includes the service too.
The visit got off to a good start with a prompt offer to take a drinks order – a big glass of Shiraz (£4.15) and sparkling water (£2.10).
We were heading to see comic John Bishop at the AECC and, knowing that would mean a fair bit of queuing, we arrived just before 6pm. We had expected it to be quiet, but within half-hour it was buzzing.
The menu is a model of clarity – colourful but not garish, with informed but restrained descriptions.
Menu staples include steak (with hand-cut chips), roast loin of Grampian venison, beef olives, macaroni cheese, and chicken with oatmeal.
However, what distinguishes the Mains of Scotstown is the adventurous nature of some dishes.
For a starter I chose hot smoked Peterheid salmon – a bundle of flakes served on a large sun-dried tomato crouton.
Another crouton carried a poached egg covered with Bearnaise sauce. A great combination, with a bed of rocket leaves providing a peppery edge.
My wife chose a chicken and black pudding roulade for starter. And she opted for a second starter featuring black pudding rather than a main. The slice of pudding, which had proportions to shame some burgers, was a base for Orcadian scallops.The twist came in the shape of pomegranate seeds, sprinkled like rubies over the dish.) The fruitiness – not too sweet – enhanced an already potent combo.
From the specials board, I ordered sea bass on ricotta ravioli bound with a roasted plum tomato and basil sauce. The line-caught fish – two fillets – was again splendidly cooked, retaining its firmness and freshness. And the pasta was much the same, with flaky cheese inside the parcels.
At a time when Heston Blumenthal is doing a roaring trade in cod in cider and savoury porridge, sea bass and ravioli might seem positively conventional.
But I can only report that I found myself eating the fish separately so the delicate flavour wasn’t lost to the sauce.
To finish, we had a dark chocolate torte and champagne sorbet, served with mandarin compote.
We had intended to share it, one romantic spoonful at a time, but it was so good we ended up squabbling over it.