The weather may have been freezing in Aberdeen during recent weeks, but that hasn’t stopped too many people from exploring what the city has to offer.
Walking down Rose Street hearing a chorus of women belting out ABBA’s Dancing Queen from a flat above, the night’s laughs and smiles were already getting started.
Friday night, the lights were low, Grape & Grain was the place to go.
Grape & Grain, a wine bar on Thistle Street, is one of the Granite City’s most talked about hotspots.
It’s only a stone’s throw from Union Street, yet there’s a charm about the place all in itself which sets it apart from other Aberdeen venues.
Inside, glam is the order of the day. Bright colours, contemporary décor and fancy wireless phone chargers make this place modern, sleek and sophisticated.
It may have been Friday night, but some of the venue’s high-energy music choices felt more attuned to a club rather than a cool wine bar, which would be my only minor snag from the experience.
With just about every table filled, booking ahead was a must and it’s very simple to do via the website.
After a short wait upon arriving for my debut Grape & Grain visit, a slightly cosy table for two awaited with other guests within half an arm’s reach either side of me.
However, another opened up after a few minutes which I was led to by one of the waiters who assured me it would be more comfortable – which was definitely the case.
My friend was ever so slightly late (characteristically, she wouldn’t mind me saying!) but we soon set into the venue’s vast drinks menu, accompanied with a tantalising cocktail list.
Italian red wine and a cherry margarita cocktail ordered, an antipasti slate filled with cured meats, olives and cheeses sounded too good to resist.
The Puglian red may have been one of cheapest priced options on the wine list at £6.50 for a medium glass, but it came packed full of fruity flavours and tasted anything but cheap.
The cocktail praise couldn’t have been higher from my friend, who after her first sip said without hesitation: “This is the best cocktail I’ve ever had.”
As the antipasti arrived beautifully presented, we knew we were on to a winner.
Sumptuous meats, luxurious cheeses and purple coloured olives brought a welcome slice of Mediterranean warmth to the wintry north-east.
The small slate option at £14.95 was plenty to share between two and its thin slices of aubergine and artichoke drizzled in olive oil were a real treat.
Feeling peckish, we then opted for a small plate of bruschetta as well as a trio of mixed nuts, olives and crisps to nibble away at.
Wine and cocktail number two – a French red from the Rhone region and a raspberry mojito – soon followed as we got chatting away to a brilliant husband-and-wife couple next to us called Mike and Jackie.
They were enjoying their visit with champagne purely to “celebrate life” (because, why not?) and it was so refreshing to enjoy the simple pleasure of getting to know new people, which has happened so rarely during the pandemic.
At £5.95, the small plate bruschetta felt like value for money coming with four pieces of bread, making it perfect for sharing between two.
The dish had that all round umami feel – the crunch from the bread, the sweetness from the gorgeous tomatoes, peppery heat from the basil and herbs, saltiness from the hint of garlic… it was delicious.
The white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake dessert of the week, in hindsight, might have been a bit overkill on the food side after what we’d had so far.
But with it already sold out by the time we asked the waiter, the trio of nuts, olives and crisps were perfect for nibbling as we finished off our drinks.
The curiously coloured purple olives made an appearance again here. They didn’t taste much different from the accompanying green ones, but they were a pleaser for the eyes and the belly nonetheless.
Pistachios, walnuts and peanuts were the core components of the mixed nuts while the crisps – which can often be bland and boring – were crunchy, salty and delightful.
All done for the night, we said goodbye to our new pals Mike and Jackie, finished up our excellent drinks and prepared to face the chill of the cold with wide smiles on our faces.
If you’re looking for a luxurious new spot in Aberdeen, Grape & Grain should be top of your list.
There are tons of drinks options to wrap your lips around and though its food options may be smaller, their quality and presentation are top drawer.
Our bill for the night came to £56.70 and we were more than happy to pay every penny of that.
The service was attentive to a tee the whole night. Pre-booked slots lasting from 45 minutes to two hours were required beforehand, which was understandable given how busy it was inside.
Ninety minutes was ample time for our food and drinks and though we ended up pushing over this just a little, at no point did we feel rushed to leave.
Contemporary, comfortable and classy, Grape & Grain impresses on all fronts.