While I have very much enjoyed reviewing plenty of takeaway meals throughout the past year or so, nothing, and I mean, nothing, beats eating out in a restaurant.
I’m not sure if it’s the luxury of someone else cooking for you (and doing the washing up), or if it is the great pleasure I get in seeing others’ faces when their meals arrive when catching up with friends and family, but being out and about is exactly where I like to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a poor cook, and of course like everyone I love a takeaway, but there’s something about dining out which just ticks every box for me.
Talking of home cooking, my boyfriend and I went in search of somewhere we could get just that. Good, hearty, bistro/pub grub.
And our search led us right to The Cults Hotel on the picturesque North Deeside Road in Aberdeen.
It was a fine Tuesday night when we ventured out with our sunglasses in tow. Living in the city centre, it was around an hours walk to Cults for us, but with the weather so promising we decided we’d be better for it.
The walk was long, but the weather made it incredibly pleasant, although I must admit I had most certainly built up an appetite by the time we arrived bag on for our 6pm seating.
We followed the hotel’s Covid-19 guidance, putting out masks on before entering, sanitising our hands, and following the markers. We were seated at our table in the gorgeous conservatory area and checked in Track and Trade with the QR code.
Having a look through the menu I remembered that the team from The Mariner Hotel and Atlantis Restaurant had joined the Cults offering having closed down in August due to the coronavirus pandemic, so understood why some seafood dishes had been branded under the Atlantis name.
I was hungry so a starter was certainly on the cards. Smoked salmon for him and smoked haddock chowder for me. We ordered our drinks and food and within 10 minutes our dishes had arrived.
The smoked salmon was a vision, with the bright pink sliced fish beautifully topped with blobs of herb mayonnaise, red and yellow tomatoes and fresh microherbs. The flavour of the salmon was “sensational” and “rich” and although quite oily, as expected, the slices were thin and easy to eat. It paired well with the creamy mayo and the quartered tomatoes.
My chowder smelled incredible when it was placed in front of me. It was creamy and surprisingly light, however it was still rather filling as there was a lot of it.
The parsley oil has been drizzled across the top leaving a trail of green in a sea of fish soup. The smoked haddock was flavourful and it carried through the rest of the dish beautifully. It was flaky and the small chunks of carrot and potato also in the soup were soft.
Served with four small oatcakes, I only discovered them hidden under the side of my bowl when my partner pointed them out. I do rather enjoy a roll of bread usually and while the oatcakes were lovely, I didn’t find them as practical for dunking in.
The service in between our courses was very attentive with staff clearing plates quickly, organising and delivering more drinks, and managing tables expectations very well. It was busy with around 30 covers in the restaurant and numerous tables of families and friends in.
In the conservatory area of the dining area is especially beautiful, with tiled flooring, greenery and accessories brining an elegant, luxury feel to the place. Hues of pale greens, metallics like silver, brass and gold and patterns brought the bright room with big windows lines with roman blinds to life.
Moving to mains, I’d stuck with a seafood and decided to try the recommended and most popular dish of the week, monkfish scampi. My other half had opted for chicken supreme
Homemade, the fresh monkfish had been cut into smaller pieces, rolled in bread crumbs and lightly fried. It was sublime. The meaty fish was delicious and perfectly cooked inside. The chips were all shapes and sizes, and there was plenty of them – I actually ended up leaving a handful or two as I was do full.
The tartare sauce was delightful and the flavours of capers and lemon really shone through – especially after squeezing the lemon all over my scampi.
As for the chicken supreme, the breast was tender and served on the bone. There was a large helping of potato puree, which my date likened to mashed potato. It was smooth and there was plenty. The sauce itself was thin, flavoursome and had sliced mushrooms throughout, and covered the tender stem shallot underneath which resulted in it being a little soggier.
We signed the evening off with a chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet and Chantilly cream. It was indulgent, rich, and had a sticky mouthfeel to it, leaving you wanting more with every spoonful.
The sorbet was tart and a beautiful bright pink, and balanced the full-on indulgent flavours of the tart off well. It sat on a bed of biscuit crumbs and also went nicely with the Chantilly cream.
If you are accustomed to the comforts of home but fancy treating yourself to a lunch of dinner out, The Cults Hotel is a great place to start.
Not only is the food delicious and the service friendly and attentive, but the menu has been updated with even more divine dishes to uncover. It is also a stunning venue to enjoy and with plenty of ornaments and accessories to catch your eye.
The venue felt very safe to navigate around and no ask is too big, however I may have asked too much of myself to walk an hour back home. Although I’m sure I burned off some calories so the dessert was more than justified.
I can certainly say, it is good to be back!