Julia Bryce takes a look back at some of the long-lost treasures of the north-east dining scene…
It’s never nice to see a local establishment close its doors, however, it is important to remember these venues in the Aberdeen hospitality landscape, especially just now when businesses are being challenged daily to stay operational.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen one or two casualties in the hospitality scene of late, but with so many businesses continuously adapting, it is great to see how collaboration and innovation has seen them through.
From launching takeaway services to teaming up with other firms to bring a more substantial offering to customers, the sector is one to be celebrated for being as positive as it has through hardship.
In this article we raise a glass to the gems we’ve lost over the years, with a strong reminder that supporting local has never been more important.
Here are some of our favourites that have sadly closed down.
Gone but never forgotten…
The Prime Cuts (Crown Terrace)
The steak and lobster house was a popular haunt, especially for special occasions, and was inspired by New-York style steakhouses.
Hosting a whole range of events including wine nights, it closed its doors in 2017 after nearly 10 years of service.
Gerard’s (Chapel Street)
Opening in 1974, the reputation and popularity of Gerard’s remained at a constant high up until its closure around 20 years ago.
Run by patron Gerard Fletcher, it was famed for its outstanding French cuisine and stylish decor with a rustic twist.
A charity fundraising dinner dedicated to celebrating the venue was hosted in May last year at The Marcliffe Hotel which saw some of its best-known dishes make their long overdue return.
Ciao Napoli (Bon Accord Crescent)
The only place in town you could get the all-famous Nutella cheesecake, Ciao Napoli was owned by brothers Peppe and Nino Lepre.
The Italian eatery operated for around 15 years and was very popular with families and with the business community, especially during Offshore Europe.
Victoria Restaurant (Union Street)
Victoria Restaurant was a true icon of Aberdeen’s Union Street. Sharing the same building with jewellers Jamieson & Carry, the tea room closed its doors in 2015 after 60 years.
Managers Gillian and Gordon Harold operated the premises for 18 years before deciding to close and spend more time with their family.
The Olive Tree (Queen’s Road)
Located in the city’s west end, in a former Toll House, The Olive Tree Restaurant offered up dishes with a Mediterranean influence.
The glass extension made for an excellent dining experience day or night. The venue is now home to an oil and gas company.
The Courtyard/Cue BBQ (Alford Place)
The Courtyard which was best known for its fine dining-esque concept closed at the end of 2015 to make way for a new barbecue venture.
The restaurant, on Alford Place, held a final Hogmanay party before closing its doors for the final time and reopened at Cue BBQ in collaboration with local sauce and spice producer Angus & Oink
Owned by Chris Tonner, the barbecue pit house closed down in September 2016 and is now populated by Italian restaurant Da Vinci’s.
Little Italy (Holburn Street)
Remember those days you could dance on the tables in Little Italy?
While the Italian eatery served up great Italian dishes, it was best known for being the place to go in Aberdeen if you fancied dancing on the tables at the end of dinner service.
It was very popular with big groups and hen parties, too.
La Tasca(Union Street)
Aberdeen’s only Spanish tapas bar at the time, La Tasca was famed for its delicious dishes which were perfect for sharing.
From classic Spanish tapas dishes to more modern twists, the wine selection also included sangria which was a popular choice for many looking to get a taste of the sun.
The venue also hosted numerous salsa classes for all levels and is now home to Mexican eatery Topolabamba.
The Beautiful Mountain
Closing in March 2015 after 15 years, regulars took to Facebook in waves to pay tribute to the much-loved business.
It operated a takeaway downstairs with a cafe upstairs and also offered tapas dishes in the evening.
Aberdeen’s popular cheese toastie business Melt also called this space home since relocating to the bigger location from its Holburn Street venue in summer 2019. However, it closed back in May this year due to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cammies Restaurant (Cammachmore, Aberdeenshire)
Another eatery shutting up shop in 2015, Cammies Restaurant closed its doors in the May to make way for affordable flats to be created.
Plans to demolish the north-east hotel to build five new houses on the site were just approved last month.
Rocin Ltd applied for permission for the project at Cammies in Cammachmore last summer.
The Stage Door (North Silver Street)
Operating for 18 years, The Stage Door was a favourite of many, especially those looking for a pre-theatre meal before a show at His Majesty’s Theatre (HMT).
It wasn’t unusual to see some of the cast in the plays and shows at HMT pop by for a drink after their performance.
It also used to be home to a Aberdeen gaming cafe called Engage Gaming, which has now moved to John Street and is also now known as RST Aberdeen.
The Foyer Restaurant and Art Gallery (Trinity Church, Crown Street)
The Foyer Restaurant and Art Gallery closed its doors in January 2013 after the umbrella charity group, Aberdeen Foyer, took stock of their resources.
Bosses then made the difficult decision to close it and focus funds on other projects in the city.
Profits from the restaurant were not invested back in the business, instead going to help the charity support disadvantaged young people through other projects, such as supported accommodation, learning, training and employability services.
It opened in 1999 and was based in Trinity Church on Crown Street.
The Adelphi Kitchen (Adelphi Lane)
One of the first barbecue specialist restaurants in the city, The Adelphi Kitchen set the scene for high-quality low and slow cooked meats.
Not only was it’s Southern American style of cooking loved by the masses, it also had an impressive menu serving up a range of dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients. It was also owned by Chris Tonner who owned The Courtyard/Cue BBQ.
North-east chef Murray Simpson led the kitchen team and you’ll now find him firing up the grill of Aberdeen’s steak restaurant Vovem Meat & Liquor.
The venue is now home to burger bar Angus & Oink.
Pappagallos (Holburn Street)
With something of a cult following, this Italian restaurant was adored in mass, booked up weeks in advance.
Now home to pit masters Maggie’s Grill which brings southern soul food to the city, Pappagallos was an institution and was best-known for its simple yet divine Italian dishes.
Carmines (Union Terrace)
Another cherished Italian eatery, Carmines closed its doors in January this year when owners Jessica and Carmine Scarpellino hung up their aprons and retired after 34 years of running the business.
Carmine was 80 when he retired and the restaurant currently lies empty.
Rye & Soda/Bos’n (The Academy, Belmont Street)
A popular brunch spot, Rye & Soda closed its doors for the final time in November 2018.
Owned by Adrian Gomes, who also owns cocktail bar The Tippling House on Belmont Street, the city eatery shut its doors as a result of “over saturation of restaurants in Aberdeen” according to a post on the business’s Facebook page.
Tiki bar Bos’n which was located upstairs also closed at the same time.
Bigos (Union Terrace)
Polish eatery Bigos closed back in July 2016 as a result of being highly impacted by the oil industry downturn,
It closed exactly one year after opening and received huge support online when it announced the news.
The popular Kirk View Cafe & Bistro now occupies the restaurant space.
Boozy Cow (Langstane Place/Netherkirkgate)
The former Amicus Apple cocktail bar was transformed into grungy burger bar Boozy Cow which saw a full revamp of its interior with graffiti-inspired wall paintings and neon lighting.
Moving from its first home at Netherkirkgate, the Langstane Place was where this eatery made a name for itself.
Founded in 2015, the Boozy Cow chain raised more than £500,000 for charity in its first two years. It moved to Langstane Place in 2016 and was purchased by entrepreneur Nic Wood who turned it into trendy cocktail bar The Spiritualist.