Stepping through the doors into the warmly lit Café Harmony, I realised we were in for a very special evening.
Tucked away on Bon-Accord Terrace, quite small and intimate, we were ushered in from the cold, drizzly night to a cosy table closer to the bar.
It felt like we had escaped the Granite City for a night and were in a restaurant somewhere in the Mediterranean instead.
It was a busy Saturday night, but after a friendly welcome, my boyfriend Doug and I immediately felt right at home.
The walls are adorned with pieces of art while mix-matched chairs and plates only add to the homely atmosphere.
The menu is wipeable, so we were given a pen and told to circle the dishes we were having.
As we perused the menu, torn between the incredible-sounding options, Doug pointed out that even the music was perfect.
We could hear each other clearly and were surrounded by the happy chatter of all the other content tables around us, but could still enjoy the relaxing tempo.
Cocktails and appetisers to whet the appetite
Since this was our first visit, we decided it would only be right to go all out.
While working out our plan of action, we ordered two cocktails to get us started. I went for a French martini and my partner went for a classic margarita (both at £9.50).
While my drink was longer than I’m used to, it was sweet and hit the spot, while Doug gave his choice a nod of approval.
“They know their way around a margarita,” he said with a grin.
The appetisers are £7 each or two for £13, ideal if sharing small plates is more your thing.
To my surprise, the roast pepper pate caught the eye of my partner who normally always plugs for meat or fish when we’re out, meanwhile, I opted for the ragu arancini.
We were soon presented with our dishes, the red pepper pate came with a generous serving of warm, fresh bread drizzled in oil and a balsamic glaze. And there was plenty of the rich, smoky pate to slather on.
The arancini was a huge ball of fried risotto, stuffed with ragu meat and cut in two. There was a hint of spice and a deeper smoky taste in the tomato sauce, which was not what I was expecting but really made the dish stand out from anything I’ve tried before.
The perfectly crisp coating and hearty risotto filling are everything you want from arancini.
Rich and simple food with a Sicilian twist
The starters proved we were on to a winner, and we decided to order a bottle of red wine to accompany our mains.
As we were choosing, the waitress talked us through the options. I have to admit, I love it when the server knows their wine list and can properly recommend something to suit.
We settled on a bottle of the Rodelia Rosso red wine (£29.99), which was deep and fruity.
I just had to try a pasta dish — I don’t know what it is, but if there’s fresh pasta on the menu it is simply a must.
After a tough decision, I settled on the Spaghetti Alla Norma (£14), a traditional Sicilian dish made with feta cheese and aubergines.
A plate piled high with spaghetti topped with lashings of a thick yellow sauce was placed in front of me. I don’t know what I was expecting, perhaps something more like crumbled feta cheese mixed through my pasta — but oh boy, am I glad I chose this dish.
The pasta was al dente and with the perfect amount of seasoning, balanced out by that creamy, feta cheese sauce.
As mentioned, my boyfriend loves seafood so he went for the Misto Di Pesce (£19.50) a plate of monkfish, squid rings and king prawns on a bed of cous cous.
The prawns were a standout for Doug, and the thick piece of monkfish was cooked to perfection.
Although he really enjoyed his meal, after trying mine he conceded that I had picked the better dish.
The portions were hearty and wholesome, so we enjoyed some wine and took our time before ordering desserts — like I said before we were going all out after all.
Indulgent Sicilian sweets
I was torn between options once again, but Doug swooped on the Sicilian cannoli (£6), as well as an espresso (£2.40) which helped me out a bit. I ticked the homemade tiramisu (£7), feeling confident I would at least get to try the other pudding I had been eyeing up.
I was not prepared for the slab of tiramisu that would be delivered before me. Not that I’m complaining, and I, of course, found room for it all.
It may not be the prettiest tiramisu you have ever seen, but it is bursting with flavour, with plenty of thick, velvety mascarpone on top of sponges soaked in a tasty, punchy liqueur.
I got my wish and tried the cannoli, but I think Doug was hesitant to share because they were just that good. The nutty outer casing was chewy and sweet, balanced with the creamy filling. The chocolate was just the perfect finishing touch.
I am still thinking about the food we enjoyed at Café Harmony, and have been shouting about it ever since.
The food was outstanding, I love Italian cuisine but have never been lucky enough to really try Sicilian food before and there really is something for everyone on the menu.
But really, the atmosphere of the restaurant and the friendly, authentic service makes this place really shine.
It’s safe to say we have a new favourite restaurant in Aberdeen and are already looking forward to the next time.
Address: 21 Bon-Accord Terrace, Aberdeen, AB11 6DP
T: 01224 588000
Price: £110.89 for two cocktails, two starters, two mains, two desserts, one espresso and a bottle of wine.
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4.5/5