It goes without saying that Monday is rather unpopular, from the moment the alarm goes off and the weekend has come to a close.
So dinner on a Monday night doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but I decided to change that after booking a table at The Chester Hotel.
I was curious to see how busy the venue would be, as opposed to joining the throng on a jubilant Friday evening.
I was even more excited to see my best friend, Emily, who I have had to keep a two metre distance from throughout the pandemic.
After a very emotional reunion, we arrived for our reservation at 6:30pm.
The weather was not on our side, but we were greeted by incredibly friendly staff, who were braving the downpour with anoraks and a smile.
Once we had checked in via an app, we were escorted to our table in The Gallery Bar having opted to eat inside instead of venturing into the the glam marquee.
When it comes to interiors, The Chester Hotel knows what it is doing.
Our surroundings weren’t so grand as to make us feel awkward, but there’s still that special something going on and it feels like an occasion.
The decor is quirky yet fresh, and we were seated by a glass cabinet which contained an impressive array of whiskies.
As the nominated driver, I was unable to sample the extensive cocktail menu.
I still wanted to try something a bit different however, and opted for strawberry lemonade which was on the right side of sweet yet refreshing.
Emily decided to indulge in The Chester Jin, which just so happens to be the venue’s best known cocktail.
The staff are renowned for their talent as mixologists, and did not disappoint.
It contains Suntory ROKU GIN, prosecco and Chambord, which Emily highly approved of.
I must hang my head in shame at this point, for we were that table.
If you’ve ever worked in hospitality, you’ll know exactly what I mean. We took 20 minutes to order, and not because we were catching up.
The menu really was that extensive, but we finally settled on some dishes.
A seafood lover, I indulged in King Prawn and crab, and Emily ordered Double Baked Black Bomber Cheddar Cheese Soufflé.
My dish was served on a crumpet with fried capers, lemon and manchengo cheese.
I admit to being a touch disappointed, as the texture was on the dry side.
But were a sauce to be added, I think the taste of crab would be lost and the crumpet would act as a sponge.
It was still enjoyable, but next time I’ll opt for something different.
As a die hard cheese lover, Emily had high praise for the cheese souffle, which was served with a green salad.
We both noted that the dishes were just the right size, meaning we still looked forward to our main.
I chose rump of lamb, served with sautéed minted greens – fondant potatoes and lamb sauce.
Beautifully presented, and oh my goodness, the taste!
The meat was tender, real melt in the mouth, and the greens were the perfect accompaniment.
After much debate, Emily had chosen chicken Kiev, served with wild garlic – buttered hispy cabbage and pomme purée.
You wouldn’t think chicken Kiev is all that special, but it really was when served in this way.
A self confessed garlic fiend, Emily admitted that the flavour would probably be enough for a “normal” palate, but she would have preferred a touch more on the garlic front.
As the person sat opposite, I can confirm that no further garlic was required!
Again, we weren’t left feeling uncomfortably full, and didn’t need much persuasion for the dessert menu.
Desserts are my area of expertise, I’ve always opted for sweet as opposed to savoury.
It was a toss up between pavlova and sticky toffee pudding.
I finally settled on the latter, and Emily selected a cheese board, served with chutney and oatcakes.
The sponge was light and the vanilla ice cream was a much welcomed accompaniment, I cleared my bowl in record time.
Although Emily enjoyed her selection of cheese, the dish was slightly let down by bruised grapes.
I never thought I would discuss the firmness of grapes, but a certain level of crunch is required, particularly on a cheese board.
Overall we were incredibly satisfied however, and appreciate that hospitality staff have come up against enormous obstacles as venues reopen.
Despite it being the start of the week, the restaurant grew busier as the night wore on.
We never felt that we were seated too close to other tables, and it was genuinely lovely to see people enjoying food together again.
One elderly couple in particular caught my attention. They were helped to their seats by very attentive staff, who were both professional and discreet.
Champagne quickly arrived at their table, and I still wonder what they were celebrating.
The fact that they chose to come to The Chester Hotel, shows the venue’s appeal to all ages.
There’s a timeless feel, and it has adapted to modern tastes without leaving its loyal customers behind.
The atmosphere felt bubbly, and the restrictions in place meant we felt very safe.
Overall, we will certainly return, and I have my eyes firmly trained on the Jin.
Location: The Chester Hotel, 59-63 Queen’s Rd, Aberdeen