THE Silver Darling has a reputation for being an excellent – if expensive – seafood restaurant.
But sometimes only the best will do.
With my Dutch boyfriend visiting Aberdeen for the first time, I wanted to show him the glamorous side of the Granite City.
We wandered up to the restaurant under the quaint streetlights of Footdee and on to the waterfront at Pocra Quay, where we spotted an otter slip into the water before we headed in to this elegant eatery – a city landmark for 25 years now.
A spiral staircase leads up to a glass conservatory where we were welcomed by a smiling waitress, who seated us at a table laid with thick, white linen.
We ordered some Viognier wine to sip as we looked through the pages of Didier Dejean's menu, which changes seasonally.
The constant, though, is North Sea fish cooked with French, Mediterranean and Oriental flourishes and commended by the Michelin, Good Food and Egon Ronay guides.
We shared a starter of seared scallops with Parma ham dust, avocado butter sauce and tomato marmalade. The plump scallops were cooked to tender perfection and the marmalade gave a delicious tang, although slightly masking the avocado flavour.
As we waited for our main courses, we watched the lighthouse flashing and ships slipping through the harbour entrance and into the night.
Inside, the waiters were attentive without being intrusive and conversation from other tables bubbled around us but never became too noisy.
Between courses, we were pleasantly surprised to be presented with an amuse bouche of swordfish croquet, carrot and coriander veloute and a white fish ceviche on a nacho.
I can eat aniseed until it comes out of my ears, so went straight for the sea bass with Pernod and fennel for my main course.
The fish was beautifully scented, soft and moist, and the vegetables had the right balance of tenderness and crunch.
Willem decided on a satisfyingly thick hunk of tuna, cooked medium rare, and artistically presented.
The dishes came with just enough food to satisfy but not stuff us to the gills, which meant we had a little space left to indulge in a dessert. We shared a sweet of hot chocolate fondant served with pistachio ice cream and a chocolate sauce with roast pistachios.
This was a perfectly sumptuous ending to our romantic meal and had just enough warmth to sustain us on a moonlit walk along the shore.