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Restaurant review: Be transported to the 1920s at Tarragon by Graham Mitchell in Aberdeen

A dish from Tarragon by Graham Mitchell, which is hosting events as part of the Provenance Festival.
Pan-seared wood pigeon starter. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Tarragon by Graham Mitchell sprouted onto the Rosemount food and drink scene last month.

The area in Aberdeen is booming at the minute on the foodie front, having also welcomed South American restaurant Tucan and Gumblossom Bakeshop within the space of two months.

Like many, I find new hospitality business announcements exhilarating. There is always that feeling of eagerness to see what they have to offer.

Tarragon by Graham Mitchell is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Graham, from the city, revealed the location of Tarragon on Rosemount Place in May and informed his following on social media that work had begun to transform it.

The renovations took around four months before the acclaimed north-east chef’s first-ever restaurant opened its doors. This was just four weeks ago.

I knew I had to try it out, even more so after sampling two dishes from Graham’s food truck The Hungry Beast in the not-so-distant past. My burger was faultless.

Tarragon by Graham Mitchell

Tarragon by Graham Mitchell is a stylish fine-dining restaurant, so by no means am I comparing my experience there with a street food truck. They are at two opposite ends of the spectrum.

However, I was, of course, expecting the food to be of the same high calibre.

The first two words that sprung to mind on entering the restaurant were ‘sleek’ and ‘sophisticated’. I almost felt as though I had been transported to the 1920s during the Art Deco movement.

The Great Gatsby – have you ever read the novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald? Perhaps you have watched the film adaptation starring Leonardo Dicaprio? Well, I have no doubt that those responsible for Tarragon’s interior have done at least one.

Inside the restaurant, located on Rosemount Place. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

It’s as though they took inspiration from the dazzling tale, while combining modern elements.

I loved the teal colour scheme in particular, along with the green shrubbery. I always find it elevates a space.

The restaurant is set across two levels but my boyfriend and I were seated on the ground floor. We sank into our cosy, cushioned chairs and appreciated the peace and quiet. There were just two other tables dining alongside us.

The food

Already, the ambiance was fantastic.

In terms of the menu, it may prove intimidating to some. I had no idea what several ingredients featured on it were, including consomme, pithivier, or Parmentier. I’m clearly no expert, but I love being left guessing. It only makes me more intrigued.

I did also notice the reasonable dish prices.

Starters – referred to as ‘come in’ on the menu – range from £6.50 to £10.50, mains – referred to as ‘get comfy’ – range from £15 to £27.50, and desserts – referred to as ‘farewell’ – range from £8 to £12.

We were welcomed with open arms by the front of house team. Not literally, but they were exceptionally accommodating.

One of the drinks enjoyed over the course of the evening, an espresso martini. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

An espresso martini and an ice-cold beer were ordered – which in itself took some time to decide on given the eclectic drinks selection – before browsing the array of dishes.

We hummed and hawed. But as we deliberated, we were met with some small plates containing four thick slices of warm bread and two different types of butter. The first, tarragon-infused, was slightly thicker than its counterpart which featured a sprinkling of sea salt over the top.

We watched as the spreads melted across our bread to create a slight glaze. There was plenty of butter to go around, too.

Afterward, there was another complimentary surprise – amuse bouche. We used the remains of our bread to dip into the soup-like mixture, which arrived in charming miniature tea cups.

The pan-seared wood pigeon was one of the desired starters. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

The amount of food gifted to us before our first course was just right and left us wanting more. Thankfully, there wasn’t a huge amount of time that went by before we received it.

I opted for confit duck terrine, while the pan seared wood pigeon caught my boyfriend’s eye. The dishes looked unbelievable, especially the pigeon.

The chunk of meat was very juicy and rich and was accompanied by a puy lentil and black pudding pithivier and a quince puree. The pithivier had similar characteristics to a traditional mince pie in taste as it was both sweet and savoury, while the puff pastry encasing the components was flaky and beautifully glazed.

The light texture of my duck was spot on. It came with spiced plum gel and plum compote, both of which added a gorgeous sweetness that complimented the meat superbly.

Confit duck terrine. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

Every accompaniment was a delight in its own right, including the two slabs of light and fluffy gingerbread. Hints of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar were apparent on the palate.

The restaurant remained tranquil as we awaited our mains. I was immediately fixated on my boyfriend’s parma-wrapped chicken ballotine – as was our hospitable server, who helped us select a number of our dishes.

The artichoke puree and sauteed mushrooms were earthy, the cavolo nero was pleasantly bitter with a slightly sweet aftertaste, and the beurre blanc was tangy.

But the highlight – albeit, there was tough competition – was the ballotine itself. Succulent and meaty, my boyfriend informed me that each bite was a pleasure.

Parma-wrapped chicken ballotine. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

I tucked into the pan-seared halibut. Oh what an excellent choice that was.

I decided to dive straight into one of the enticing mussels that surrounded the star of the show, the halibut, to kick things off.

Each one was perfectly cooked and had absorbed that superb mariniere reduction, which was silky in texture and proved a great pairing with the bed of cabbage piled underneath my fish.

Cabbage, I find, normally has little to give in a dish with so many great-sounding components, like those featured in this one. However, it really packed a punch in the salt front. By no means was it overpowering, it in fact elevated its fellow ingredients.

The pan-seared halibut flaked away with ease. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

The halibut, with an enticing steam dancing around it, was delicate in taste and flaked away with ease.

Small cubes of apple, which had a slight sourness and bite to them, were scattered across the plate, too.

We spent the intermission between our mains and dessert sipping our drinks, admiring the interior, and feeling thankful that we weren’t wandering the streets in the lashing rain.

Yes, we decided on just one dessert. In hindsight, we should have selected two.

Nevertheless, our tarragon and wholegrain mustard ganache – another dish that was highly commended by several of our servers – was styled elegantly with a rectangular block of rich chocolate ganache topped with crispy tuille.

Tarragon and wholegrain mustard ganache. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

The lightness of the salted caramel ice cream married perfectly with its thick texture, while the layer of biscuit crumb added a nice crunch.

There were also some microgreens, adding a pop of colour to the plate, and two blackberries that were lovely and tart.

Our spoons were overflowing in an attempt to capture each component in every bite.

It brought our meal to a bitter-sweet end. Why bitter? Because we simply didn’t want to leave.

The verdict

Tarragon by Graham Mitchell offers a dining experience that comes few and far between in establishments based in the city and shire.

I went in expecting it to be great but left with full intentions of spreading as much word as possible that it was exceptional – because it was.

The bar area at Tarragon by Graham Mitchell. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

Graham Mitchell has brought together a stellar team and produced a menu that leaves you eager to try each and every dish.

Now, it’s time to sample the lunch offering. I’ll be back in due course.


Address: 137 Rosemount Place, Aberdeen, AB25 2YH

T: 01224 977466


Price: £87.98 for two starters, two mains, one pudding, cocktails, and beers.


  • Food: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Surrounding: 5/5