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A main for all seasons

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Primavera is Italian for spring, but that seemed a million miles away as we scurried towards the restaurant while being lashed by icy cold winter wind and rain – typical Aberdeen-style.

Luckily, we did not have to contend with floods that have devastated the north-east and other parts of Scotland recently.

But we were more or less blown through the doors of Primavera, a new Italian restaurant which only opened last month.

It was quite a sight to behold: they have taken what used to be a games arcade and transformed it into an elegant and cavernous interior.

Pillars of tiles rise from floor to lofty ceiling all around – not like Roman pillars at all – with matching walls. Black-painted pipe-work crisscrosses the ceiling, giving a stark industrial feel in contrast to the elegant tiling.

You could tell they had opened quite recently and there were possible snagging issues: tables in the rear section were not in use, and neither was the gents, where a sign re-directed diners to the disabled loo.

The furious weather outside also seemed to make it a struggle to warm the large interior space, but it was early and it warmed up later.

What was very warming, however, was the welcome from waiting staff and excellent hot food that arrived on our table.

All the usual Italian favourites were present, but there was a generous amount of dishes overall, with plenty of great possibilities. There was also a good choice of fish, which I was particularly delighted about.

Almost as soon as we sat down, our waiter was pushing the steaks hard. It was something we had not considered really, with so many traditional Italian dishes on offer.

Our waiter explained that they also wanted to be known for the standalone quality of their steaks and that they were cooked on a lava grill to enhance and intensify flavours.

While we pondered this, I glanced at passing traffic outside and noted that Primavera was in a fairly good position, at the bottom of Bridge Street, to showcase itself on a busy road.

It is a short walking distance from Union Street and only across the road from the rail station and Union Square, with huge potential footfall. A decent-sized car park is almost opposite, which offers good rates at night. Competition is stiff, though.

Back to the menu and steak won the day for one of us, especially as they were offering a whopping discount on the T-bone, from £28 to £21.

For starters, pan-fried king scallops in a white wine and lemon butter sauce for my wife, and a starter portion of seafood linguine from the pasta menu, with king prawns, monkfish and squid in a rich tomato sauce for me.

Before starters arrived, we sampled delicious Italian-style bread made on the premises, and served with balsamic and olive oil to dip. We could hear them carving the bread in the background.

I use the word ‘starter’ loosely as something must have been lost in translation in the kitchen: there was enough for two on my dish.

I have a soft spot for this, though, and ploughed on regardless. The linguine carried generous amounts of monkfish and prawns, in a rich sauce and it was a satisfying start. For my wife, three plump scallops in a delicious lemon butter sauce went down a treat.

The 16-ounce T-bone was a sight to behold: a great chunk of meat, medium-to-well-done, yet so tender and bursting with flavour, with a red wine and balsamic sauce. They also dispensed with the usual obligatory tomato and mushroom you see everywhere else, and we were treated to a mix of green beans, asparagus and broccoli. Excellent homemade chips came in a stainless steel pot.

The other main was pan-fried sea bass served with tagliatelle, toasted mushrooms and Romanesco broccoli in a creamy sauce. This was a joy, especially as we needed warming up.

There was not one, but two generous fillets of fish served hot on the plate, with a crispy skin and soft white flesh. It was marvellous and complemented by a solid platform of pasta.

Our only gripe was that, even although there were only five tables in use, with nine diners in all when we were there, out of a possible 90 covers, the service started to slow thereafter. After sitting with the dessert menus we had been handed for around 20 minutes, we decided to pass without ordering as we were running out of time.

It did not spoil our overall enjoyment because the food was excellent, along with the welcome and decor. They had only been going for a few weeks, after all.

They deserve success for the effort they are putting in to make it a winning formula for all seasons – not just primavera.