When its hot out, reverting to being a ‘picky eater’ is what I do best. And when I say picky, I don’t mean fussy.
I’m one of those people who likes to try a bit of everything, picking my way through a menu enjoying the likes of small plates and a range of starters.
That’s why street food is one of my favourite things. You can pick one dish from here, one dish from there and try a whole range of cuisines in one sitting.
So when the sun came out to burn us all a few weeks ago, I headed to Aberdeen’s latest street food pop-up, Backyard at Union Square.
Organised by the team behind STAXX, a social market made out of containers which is set to launch in Aberdeen next year, who have already had success with their first street food pop-up, Backyard Beach Collective, the pop-up is based in Union Square’s outdoor car park.
Heading down on a Sunday afternoon we weren’t surprised it was busy, especially given the weather. We were greeted at the entrance, scanned the Track and Trace QR code and shown to our table – a picnic bench with a roof on it.
The pop-up is run in association with Codona’s Amusement Park and the former Christmas market huts have come out of retirement and now house an array of food vendors.
Included in the line-up is AVO, BioCafe, ABERDAM, and other catering firms which are run by Codona’s.
Drinks are available via table service, of which we ordered two bottles of Pepsi Max (£2.50 each), while food can be ordered directly at the vendor huts.
First on my list of things to order was the Dutch fries from ABERDAM.
Having tried these many a time before, I wanted to get a completely different sauce to my go-to garlic mayonnaises or hot sauces. I opted for satay (£1.50) and decided to get some seasoning (£1) sprinkled all over my chips too, picking the Chinese salt and pepper seasoning made locally by Angus and Oink.
While there wasn’t a queue, there was a backlog of orders so I was given a buzzer for collection and headed to the next stall – the neighbouring AVO.
It is great to see the avocado catering firm back out doing what it does best, but it has also brought with it a new offering, serving up some of the beefiest burgers I’ve seen. They’ve also introduced loaded fries and more recently, halloumi fries.
While I’d only decided on the burger (£9) with my boyfriend, I took the opportunity to sneak in an order of halloumi fries (£6.50). Like ABERDAM, I was handed a buzzer after paying and made my way back to the table.
It didn’t take long for the AVO buzzer to go. The monstrous AVO x Roots Catering Korean fried chick’aint burger collaboration was absolutely huge and looked incredible. The halloumi fries didn’t look nearly as impressive next to it, but the bright green avocado and rosemary mayonnaise which topped them most certainly was a conversation starter.
“Wow” was what came out my boyfriend’s mouth when I presented it to him.
This wasn’t our first rodeo and he knew exactly what to do. While he gnawed into the burger, I set out trying the halloumi.
The cheese ‘fries’ were incredibly delicious. They weren’t overdone so there wasn’t much ‘squeaking’ to he had from the halloumi and they had been so lightly fried which meant they weren’t overly heavy either. There was about five or six long but thin slices and my boyfriend absolutely adored them.
The mayonnaise was quite strong and you could really taste the avocado throughout. Its colour alone made you want to try it, and the dish black sesame seeds sprinkled on top with a drizzling of pomegranate molasses. There wasn’t much of the molasses on it, so it wasn’t prominent in flavour.
As for the burger, when I got my lips around it it was exactly what I needed. The sticky Korean barbecue sauce was everything I had hoped for and there was a heap of pickled cucumber, rainbow slaw and more packed in. The crispy panko fried vegan chicken fillet sat on top of a bed of smashed avocado, and black and regular sesame seeds were used to finish it off.
The brioche bun itself managed to soak up any of the barbecue sauce which tried to make a break for it and it was incredibly sweet, too.
My second buzzer then went off mid feast so I rushed back to ABERDAM. I’d only ordered a cone of the fries (£3) instead of a box (£5) but had added three brie wedges to the mix (£3). They were supposed to come served on a wooden stick in the cone of chips, but I received them in a separate recyclable box.
As if we weren’t stuffed enough, we decided to push ourselves and try one last thing. After all, if you’re visiting a street food pop-up you might as well go all out.
Last up was BioCafe’s vegan doner wrap (£7). We had tried their foot long toasties before (the firecracker one is a must!) and wanted to give something else a bash.
When ordering, the team ask you to keep an eye out for them waving to you when your order is ready – so be sure to keep an eye out.
Made with the firm’s own homemade seitan doner ‘meat’ this vegan dish came packed with raw vegetables including peppers, cucumber, red onion and lettuce. The onion was super fragrant and nearly dominated to dish. The setian tried to fight back in balancing out the pure pungent flavour from the onion, but it failed to do so.
The wrap itself had been toasted, which I loved, and the rest of the veg was lovely and crunchy which really added to the mouthfeel of this dish specifically.
While it was over powered by the onion, it was still very enjoyable – although I think I’d go for the firecracker toastie again on my next visit.
If you like to nibble and like to try a bit of everything the offering at both Backyard’s venues is well worth trying out.
Not only is the food good, but you’re supporting local businesses who are bringing something a little different to the city – be that the concept of the food vendors cuisine itself.
There’s plenty to try out and lots of options for everyone. Its somewhere you can take the dog, your family and even meet up with friends or colleagues.
And, there’s a good range of drinks, not to mention plenty cocktails and beverages from local firms to try.
Address: Union Square (rear car park), Guild Street, Aberdeen, AB11 5RG
- Food: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5
- Service: 3/5