I’ve never been to New Orleans, but if the food being served up at Olive Alexanders is anything to go by, well, buy me a one-way ticket.
Who would have thought that you could grab a taste of southern America here in the heart of Aberdeen? Just head for Golden Square.
The team at OA’s have been causing quite the stir since they burst onto the foodie scene in July last year, and not just thanks to their sister venue Bar Below which had already been slinging fabulous cocktails since they opened a few months previously.
With menus that change with the season and champion local produce, you can rely on finding something refreshingly different and put together with care and love if you pop in for a bite to eat.
It’s the kind of place that oozes effortless cool, mixing kitschy, retro tearoom vibes with eclectic bistro style.
I like to think of it as stepping into a pal’s (extremely stylish) living room. A pal with an exceptional booze collection and a talent for putting together beautiful food, that is.
Oh, and one with a fantastic beer garden for enjoying a cold cocktail in the sunshine too.
As you may have picked up, due to my blatant fawning so far, I’m already quite the fan of this place, so when I heard that they were once again taking part in the fabulous foodie fortnight that is Aberdeen Restaurant Week, you can bet I was first in line to hop on the review wagon.
Chatting to owner and chef Emily, I learned that her family was in America for quite some time, so it comes naturally that she should look to the south when it came to inspiration for an ARW offering.
So, what’s the deal?
Open for both lunches and dinners, the New Orleans-themed menu, running until this Sunday (August 20), offers a lunchtime sandwich and soft drink deal for just £9, or a dinner option where you can choose one course for £10, two for £15, or all three for £20.
I knew before even walking through the door that we’d be going the whole hog with a three-courser. With a menu like this, how could you not?
After cooling down with an Aperol Spritz (not included in the offer), we set to ordering.
Southern-style starters were a joy
This menu is all about keeping things simple, southern-style.
It’s classic diner-style food, levelled up with quality ingredients, and we loved every joyous mouthful.
I went for the gas station tostada. A crispy corn tortilla topped with caramelised onion puree, spring onions, chives and cool ranch tortilla chip dust.
And yes, it tasted exactly how it sounds. Like a giant cool original Dorito, but with a bit of finesse. Obsessed.
The hubby went for the Southern-style hash browns, which came with chimichurri mayo and pickles. Salty, crispy, soft in the middle, and extremely satisfying.
Plus the tangy chimichurri mayo was a stroke of genius.
The main event
Nothing says New Orleans like a shrimp po boy, so we were over the moon to see one on the menu. Having sadly never tried the real deal, I can only assume that this is about as close as it gets.
Deep fried prawns, old bay mayo, shredded lettuce and pickled red onions in a soft roll with Louisiana spiced fries.
I felt the FOMO for real as this was Grant’s order and not mine, but let’s face it, no husband escapes unscathed when a wife has their sights set on ‘sampling’ some of their order.
I can confirm that it was a subtly-spiced, crunchy, flavour-packed delight.
My order was the collard green melty boy. A grilled sandwich stuffed to the brim with oozy swiss cheese, sauteed cavolo nero, OA Sauce and southern slaw, served with what has to be the most creamy and indulgent potato salad I’ve ever had.
The flavours were insanely good, and I genuinely believe that they need to bottle the OA sauce and make their fortune, but I will say that this was a messy eat.
If the kale had been more finely chopped rather than in whole leaves, I would have left with a little more of my dignity, but it’s probably just as well that I didn’t have that much to begin with, because it was still 100% worth the dribbly chin.
So much more than just desserts…
Predictably, G went for the banana split sundae, because he’s a child at heart and couldn’t resist the nostalgic allure of the Neapolitan ice cream and maraschino cherries, but the beignets were calling my name… loudly.
Another New Orleans classic, these super-sized, sugar coated cloud-like donut descendants are like fluffy little chunks of heaven. Drizzled with the accompanying sweet cherry syrup, a girl could get into serious trouble if these were a permanent fixture on the menu. Oh boy…
There are 100 reasons that I can think of to pay Olive Alexanders a visit this Aberdeen Restaurant Week, but if you really need just one, it’s the beignets. Do it, and thank me later.
A: 8 Golden Square, Aberdeen AB10 1RB
Price: £40 (not including drinks)
Aberdeen Restaurant Week promotion: Lunches and dinners from £9 to £20