The Exchange Pub & Restaurant has been on my radar for a few months now — well, ever since I spotted a picture of one of its homemade pie of the days online, that is.
I found myself on The Exchange’s page, scrolling through its ‘about’ section and inspecting each photo that had been uploaded.
Yes, I was on the hunt for more pies.
Finding the pub and restaurant was swift on a relatively quiet Sunday morning in Aberdeen. Located on Exchange Street, it’s (essentially) across the road from Union Square (the bus and train station side).
As it does for a number of city centre hospitality venues — which is no fault of theirs — parking proved a nightmare. In the end, my boyfriend Josh and I settled on the Union Square car park.
Unique setting at The Exchange is among the standout in the Granite City
My expectations of the interior were exceeded when we stepped inside.
I already knew The Exchange Pub & Restaurant was based in a former chapel (as well as a banana factory — amazing, I know) that had undergone a refurb, but what the owners have done with the space is incredible.
Set across two levels, it has been kitted out with wood effect flooring and tables, artificial plants and picture frames showcasing historical images of the neighbouring harbour.
However, the main talking point were those stunning stained glass windows, adding more pops of colour to the venue.
I was delighted to see they had been retained from the venue’s former time as restaurants Hop and Anchor, and Musa.
We couldn’t help but air that it would make for a fantastic place to visit for weekend drinks. In saying that, it also exuded a cosy, comfortable and serene feel, so is equally as appealing if you’re after lunch or dinner — like the pair of us were.
Expect pub classics with a twist, and a drinks selection to suit all tastes
Despite making a reservation a few days prior, there was only one other table occupied when the pair of us arrived. We could take our pick from the empty ones.
Opting for a corner booth, our server approached us to take our drinks order. It was soft drinks all round.
I was on driving duties, which was unfortunate given the extensive line-up of beers and cocktails on offer. There was an £8.50 jam margarita that would have had my name all over it.
As for the food menu, it consists of small plates, mains, desserts and weekly specials. It’s snappy and to the point.
I had a look at the digital menu on The Exchange website ahead of visiting, but the ones we had in front of us featured far more dishes, so bear that in mind.
There’s garlic bread (£3.95), haggis and black pudding bon bons (£5.95), spinach and ricotta cannelloni (£11.95), and fish and chips (£15.95), to name a few of the options.
Battered pickle fries, anyone?
Choosing our dishes was a breeze. The pair of us had empty bellies, so were keen to get the show on the road.
Before we knew it, our starters (small plates) were in front of us — the battered pickle fries (£4.95) and mozzarella sticks (£5.95).
Pickles aren’t really a go-to for me, but neither of us had tried them battered before. We were intrigued and, luckily, they turned out to be great.
The finger-sized pickles, which were slightly salty and sour in taste, had been coated in a light, crunchy batter. I initially thought they’d end up being on the greasy side, but they weren’t in the slightest.
Our mozzarella sticks turned out to be just as tasty. There were five in total, all piping hot. I was delighted about this because I got that desired cheese pull after taking my first bite.
A sweet chilli dip was served alongside them. I wasn’t overly keen on this as I found the sweet aspect too overpowering, meaning the kick from the chilli didn’t come through.
How my homemade ‘pie of the day’ went down…
Unsurprisingly, we scoffed everything down in no time.
A few other diners were in the restaurant by this point, and a lot of them had gone for the cheesy loaded fries (£11.95). They looked a treat, but we still had no regrets about our chosen mains.
Our meal (and conversation) was a tad disrupted at points due to some people — whether it was guests or staff members, I couldn’t tell as they were hovering in and around the bar area — making a fair rackit on occasion. Then again, we were in a pub as well as a restaurant, I suppose.
Nevertheless, let’s move on to the mains.
There was no doubt in my mind that I’d be requesting the pie of the day (£7.99). The filling was chicken and bacon. Result.
It arrived with a side of seasonal vegetables (£2.95), including green beans and thinly sliced carrots and parsnips. I was chuffed I decided to bag them as well. Coated in a buttery glaze, the veg added a delicious earthiness and sweetness to the dish when paired with the pie.
However, the bake was the standout.
The pastry had an inviting shine to it and was the perfect golden-brown shade. As for the chicken, it was more on the crispy side, which I adored. The bacon, on the other hand, was juicy and added a punchy salty flavour. There was also a creamy cheese in the mix.
Josh loved it just as much as his own main, the toasted Cajun chicken burrito (£11.95). It was jam-packed with chicken, rocket and red onion. The flavours were on point and the chicken was cooked to perfection.
My sweet tooth prevailed, so desserts were enjoyed all round too
I don’t think the server could believe it when we requested a dessert each after clearing our plates away — being that our portions were substantial. But we did.
A portion of sticky toffee pudding (£5.95) and a toffee brownie (£5.95) were placed in front of us. I will say that I was instantly jealous of Josh’s sticky toffee.
Served with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, the sponge was soft, moist and sweet.
My dark chocolate brownie, which featured a drizzling of dark chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings and toffee pieces, was the smaller portion of the two.
However, I quickly understood why as it was high on the rich scale, but I wasn’t complaining. Desserts down, we requested the bill.
I was shocked when I checked the total cost on our bill. Shocked in a good way as I expected it to be a lot higher than it was…
The Exchange Pub & Restaurant is a fantastic spot for a multitude of occasions — be it a date night, celebration, or if you fancy a quick bite to eat solo.
Address: 33 Exchange Street, Aberdeen AB11 6PH
T: 01224 062442
Price: £46.79 for two small plates, two mains, two desserts and one Diet Coke
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5