In Aberdonian winter, it is hard to appreciate the outdoors and greenery without at least four layers on and a fair amount of shivering.
Often it is only with strenuous exercise that we can cope with the cold to keep the blood pumping.
As a result, my love of plants and nature is usually contained to short bursts in the winter months.
However, thanks to the Fowrie Garden Cafe at Fourmile House in Kingswells, I have discovered my warm and food-filled secret garden.
When my friend Becs and I stepped into the cafe we were greeted by warmth, a smile from our waitress and a lot of draping greenery.
While I am not sure how many of the hanging plants are real, they helped to create a calming space and almost made us forget the wintery chill we had come from.
Adding in the matching decor, many windows and high ceilings, it made for a very light and spacious spot.
The tables bustling with people and filled with good-looking food was a promising sight and me and Becs could not wait to dig in.
When first looking at the menu, I really liked that there was a choice for lighter cafe food and also more substantial restaurant options.
Feeling the cold and wanting something fairly light to start, I went for the soup of the day (£5.45) – the carrot and coriander.
In my mind, this was a bit of a gamble.
In the past, I have had many watery and tasteless versions of this soup which usually ensures it is not top of my list. But in the relaxed atmosphere, I decided to give it another go.
And how glad I was of that. Presented in a greenery-matching and very large bowl, the soup was a delight.
The flavours were balanced perfectly and it was not too sweet or watery making it the best carrot and coriander soup I have had to date.
While I was immersing my spoon in the orange goodness Becs was happily dipping her Scottish bon bons (£8.25), a favourite of hers, into a pepper sauce.
I was told the piled bon bons were crunchy and well-cooked. This was backed up when they disappeared quicker than my soup.
Hearty food with good flavour
We did not get much time to dwell on our food before we were speedily served our mains.
Becs had gone for the breaded haddock (£16.45) with chips, garden peas and a side salad.
After a few bites, she confirmed it tasted as good as it looked.
The fish was very fresh and flaky while the chips were fluffy and well-cooked. A high compliment from the ardent potato-lover.
The side salad had a nice selection of vegetables and Becs was strangely impressed by the accompanying ketchup which was also good quality.
As she had begun to make a start, it allowed me time to assess my choice.
I had gone for the steak and Guinness pie with roast potatoes (£16.45).
Like my friend’s main, it was a generous portion with the pie filling nearly spilling over the dish.
With the inflated golden pastry placed on top, I decided to go for a divide-and-conquer approach taking off the pastry so as not to create chaos.
Once I was able to dive in, I was not disappointed.
The pie filling – which was well-stocked with a good variety of tender chunks of meat and vegetables – was rich and packed with flavour.
It went perfectly with the flaky and buttery pastry topping and the golden and fluffy roast potatoes.
The accompanying vegetables were slightly lacking in seasoning but helped to add some measure of healthy colour and taste to the plate.
While we were thoroughly enjoying our mains, Becs said for anyone after hearty food with good flavour, Fourmile House should definitely be a top choice.
Ending on a sweet note with apple pie at the Fowrie Garden Cafe
Despite my will and determination, I was defeated by my pie.
To give my stomach a reprieve, I opted for a peppermint tea (£2.50) to finish and a cheeky slice of raspberry ruffle (£2.95) in the cake display stand that caught my eye.
The chocolate and coconut combination with a raspberry twang was just the right compliment to my tea.
Becs had opted for the apple pie with ice cream (£6.95) which was presented beautifully.
And it was not just a pretty face.
The pie was a wonderful mix of tart and sweet flavours while the pastry made for a soft melt-in-the-mouth experience with the odd satisfying crunch added in.
Paired with the ice cream it was a light and delicious end and finished our Saturday lunch on a high.
By the end, we were stuffed full and just about rolled out the door.
It is safe to say Fourmile House was a Saturday afternoon well spent. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Fowrie Garden Cafe felt like a light and calming corner of peace.
The staff looked after us well and despite the busyness were always quick to help with a smile.
The fact the cafe offers both hearty pub grub and lighter lunch is a massive selling point and makes it an ideal destination for friends and people of all appetites.
Address: Old Skene Road, Kingswells, Aberdeen AB15 8QA
T: 01224 740318
Price: £61.20 (two starters, mains and dessert, one pineapple juice and a peppermint tea)
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5