Finding somewhere new to eat in the city centre can sometimes be a drag.
There are plenty of places to choose from in Aberdeen, of course, but I get tired of heading to the same spots.
So, I decided to take a different tack when heading out for a proper catch-up meal with my pal – and revisited an old haunt.
The Braided Fig – which is off the city’s main drag – used to be one of my pub-grub staples.
But I’d heard the eatery had gone decidedly upmarket, shying away from chilli and burgers and serving more restaurant-style fare.
So I decided to give it a bash – and wasn’t disappointed by the quality of fare.
The dining area is tucked away from the bar, meaning those eating can enjoy a meal away from revellers out for a drink, even at the weekend.
My pal and I went on a Saturday and the place was buzzing, without being too rowdy.
We were shown to our seats by a friendly waitress who took our drink orders for an aperitif – a gin and tonic – to enjoy while we perused the menu.
The selection on offer is pretty extensive and I struggled to choose, even between the starters. Despite what I’d heard, there are still the pub-style staples – although they are considerably fancier than many bar meals. If you fancy a stylish burger you can choose the 100% steak mince option or a vegetarian alternative of portobello mushroom and goats cheese, both served with hand-cut red rooster fries. And the classic Braided Fig chilli is still on the menu.
For our starters we decided to go for the more extravagant choices.
My pal opted for the crab and prawn cakes. These Thai seafood parcels were bound in a lightly-fried golden breadcrumb.
And they were served with a very unusual peanut butter coleslaw and sweet pepper salsa.
The cakes themselves were delicious. But the coleslaw was just too odd for me, although my friend adored it – definitely an acquired taste.
I plumped for the breaded halloumi. The Greek cheese, which had a great texture, was fantastically crispy on the outside.
And the salad and Tzatziki dip was wonderfully fresh alongside the salty cheese.
For my main I decided to go for one of the seafood choices – the paupiettes of lemon sole.
Little parcels of the fish were wrapped around salmon mousse, which had a lovely flavour. But the texture was a little odd as the usually melt-in-the-mouth mousse had been poached along with the sole.
The meal was served with saffron potatoes, vegetables and a decadent and flavoursome caviar butter – close to perfection.
My friend went for the steak option – something she had been planning before we even chose the restaurant.
She went for the 6oz fillet. The dish was served with portobello mushrooms, cherry vine tomatoes, shallot confit and fries.
She said it was a delicious meal and a juicy piece of meat – but it wasn’t quite as tender as she had hoped for the £25 price tag.
We enjoyed a delicious bottle of new-world sauvingon blanc with the meal which was packed with zingy grapefruit flavours.
By this stage, we were beginning to toil after some fantastic food and generous portions.
But I had made my friend promise not to let me wimp out on the full three courses.
So, I went for my usual choice – the cheese board. And it was a moreish selection of goats cheese, brie and blue served with oatcakes and sweet fruit.
My friend could not resist the sound of the cheesecake of the day – which was topped with pecans.
The creamy cake with a crumbly base induced some serious eye-rolling from my pal, which seemed like a good sign.
With a couple of liqueur coffees, to allow us to continue our chat for another half hour, the meal came to around £110.
We had a fair feed and the wine was delicious – but I thought the price was a little steep given that, at the end of the day, the Braided Fig still appears to be more of a pub than a fine-dining restaurant – and I was a little put out at the inclusion of a service charge of more than 15%, particularly since we didn’t notice this until after we left and had already left a generous tip.
The Braided Fig, 39 Summer Street, Aberdeen. Phone 01224 620333.