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Restaurant review: Excessive portions make for a great bargain at Palm Court Hotel in Aberdeen

Some of the dishes from the restaurant.
Some of the dishes from the restaurant.

I recently started watching Ricky Gervais’ TV programme After Life on Netflix and it has really got me thinking about life.

We all have these visions of what our lives will look like as we get older, but it can thrown us many curve balls along the way that change the course of our path.

I guess that is similar to what has happened with everyone and the coronavirus pandemic.

Routines have changed, friendship groups have changed and even our eating habits have changed.

My boyfriend’s granny is a great example of someone who would regularly go for coffees and lunches with her friends, to then be forced to stay indoors and shelter from those she loved most, and enjoyed getting out and about with.

Now that we’re verging on the pandemic’s two year anniversary, my boyfriend and I have tried to make sure we are taking her out more as her confidence in eating out in hospitality settings returns.

Palm Court Hotel

She loves traditional Scottish dishes like stovies, mince and tatties and steak pie so we thought we’d treat for her lunch and took her to the Palm Court Hotel in Aberdeen on Seafield Road.

I’d booked a table for the three of us in advance to ensure we had a table that was easy for her to access. On arrival we were shown to our seats and asked to check in for track and trace.

We requested a pillow for her to perch herself on, which was no bother for our server at all, and looked at the menu.

The Palm Court Hotel.

We got our drinks order in quickly, with soft drinks for my boyfriend and I, and a glass of house white wine for his granny.

It wasn’t too busy when we arrived so service started off very slick.

The soup of the day was cream of broccoli, which piqued her interest.

Drinks delivered, it took around 20 minutes or so for us to catch the attention of someone to order our food.

The food

It had been a while since we’d taken his granny to Palm Court and she enjoyed The Bothy Restaurant’s refreshing look.

With wooden tones, a stone wall at the back of the room and purple hues throughout, she said the place seemed “much homelier” than before.

Inside the venue.

Our starters were about another 20 minutes with haggis, neeps and tatties, soup of the day and the crispy ginger beer king prawn tempura all in the firing line.

My prawns were massive and there was a lot of eating in them.

The light chilli and coriander batter was cooked perfectly but the sweet chilli and tangy Teriyaki sauces to accompany didn’t seem to mix so well with the flavours in my opinion.

King prawn tempura.

Granny tucked into her soup and didn’t come back up for air until she was done.

She gave it two thumbs up and slurped the remains up with the Bannock bread it was served with.

The starter version of the Burns Night favourite was also a hit, with a side of whisky sauce to pour all over it. It too was a reasonable sized portion and quite filling.

Starter version of the haggis, neeps and tatties.

We waited quite some time for our mains to arrive once someone had collected the empty plates.

I had ordered the Loch Fyne mussels mariniere (which also comes as a starter) for main and it was accompanied by a side of fries. I thought it would be a lighter option after the fried starter I had, how wrong was I…

Most venues I have ordered mussels from as a main have featured maybe around 30 mussels maximum I would say. I counted 63 mussels (of all shapes and sizes may I add) in my dish which I had to recount as I didn’t quite believe that one portion could have so many.

Mussels with fries.

While they were lovely and served in a delicious creamy sauce, I simply could not stomach them all. I started feeling disorientated just looking at the half empty bowl, not even knowing how many I had or hadn’t managed to consume.

My other half didn’t believe me so, stubbornly, I counted them again in front of the table. Everyone was in shock, no one more so than me. At £15 this is the best value for mussels you’ll find in Aberdeen I’d say!

He had opted for The Bothy burger which too came with the crisp French fries, although there was only one burger on his plate.

The Bothy burger.

Our dining companion ordered the chicken club sandwich which she was left a little disappointed with.

The chicken had been overcooked on the grill and was hard to bite into, never mind cut through.

The rest of the sandwich was enjoyable, although the egg too had been over cooked.

She had also requested brown bread, but it was served with white.

Not one to make a fuss (she’s from the war time era where waste is not an option) she politely let our server know when clearing the plate. She mentioned she’d get her manager to apply a 10% discount as a result.

The chicken club sandwich.

Full to the brim, none of us could stomach another morsel, although my boyfriend enjoyed a coffee as his granny finished off the remains of her wine.

Two hours and 15 minutes later we waddled out after having to hunt down another member of staff to pay.

While the service was good when we received it, there was a lack of attentiveness and haste in the venue.

Speaking to the table behind me on the way out they had been waiting an hour and were only just served their starters, of which only one of their party of six had ordered soup. I feared it could be a long afternoon for them.

However, they wouldn’t leave hungry as the portion sizes were phenomenally good value for money.

The verdict

The Palm Court’s menu features a range of mains, sandwiches, desserts and even boasts a breakfast offering until noon during the week and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Their food is traditional with a slight twist on it, and there’s no denying they try to have something to accommodate all.

What I will say though is their portion sizes are very much on the larger size, and while I enjoy bang for my buck, I felt that more than 60 mussels in one portion was quite excessive and a bit of a waste.

I guess the moral of this story is, when life throws you curveballs (and a gazillion mussels your way), make  sure you have a finger bowl to hand.


Address: 81 Seafield Road, Aberdeen AB15 7YX

T: 01224 310351

Price: £77.64

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