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Restaurant review: Moonfish Cafe serves up honest food with heart and ‘sole’

Dream dessert: The chocolate cremeux, blood orange and hazelnut dessert was "incredible".
Dream dessert: The chocolate cremeux, blood orange and hazelnut dessert was "incredible".

Unbuttoning the top of your jeans is always a sure sign of a memorable meal.

And that is exactly how myself and Society editor Ellie House felt – leaning back in our seats while rubbing our full bellies – after sampling the delightful delicacies served up in sumptuous style at the Moonfish Cafe.

With four years in the Michelin Guide under its belt and an illustrious chef in the form of Brian Mcleish – a Masterchef Professionals finalist in 2014 – it came as no surprise to see the envious looks from friends when I told them where I would be dining on Saturday night.

The exterior of Moonfish Cafe
Hidden gem: Moonfish Cafe is tucked away in Correction Wynd with beautiful views of St Nicholas Kirk. Picture by Paul Glendell

And they were right to be jealous.

Tucked away in Correction Wynd, a pretty medieval street complete with Instagramable fairy lights, it is home to one of Aberdeen’s most revered eateries.

Renowned for its superb Scottish seafood and extensive gin list, Moonfish Cafe has certainly made a name for itself for all the right reasons.

The restaurant from inside, with the large floor to ceiling glass windows and bar, with sleek wooden seating and chairs
Cafe chic: The earthy tones of the interior gives Moonfish a relaxing and laid back vibe. Picture by Paul Glendell.

The food

Arriving just in the nick of time for our 6pm booking, we soon relaxed as a friendly waiter took our coats before leading us to a table beside the window where we could watch the moon glisten above the beautiful 12th century kirk of St Nicholas.

Painfully looking away from the extensive gin and gin martini cocktail list – we were both driving – we opted for coke and table water which was delivered to us at record speed.

The scallops with radish and garnish on top
Succulent sensation: The scallops were unbelievably tender and juicy balanced perfectly with the crunch of the radish. Picture by Paul Glendell.

Bustling with couples, families and friends, it’s easy to see why the cafe attracts such a wide clientele as far from being a pretentious high-end restaurant, it oozes a laid-back and unstuffy vibe allowing the food to do the talking.

Bellies rumbling in unison, we scanned over the mouthwatering menu with options to get two courses for £30, three courses for £38 and four courses for £46.

Swithering over our stomach’s capacities – and the stretch on our waistbands – we settled on three courses.

Colourful creation: Ellie’s chargrilled broccoli starter with poached egg and truffle hollandaise hit the right spot.<br />Picture by Paul Glendell.

With four very different and equally intriguing starters to choose from including barbecue duck with pickled beetroot, black garlic and pomegranate and smoked ham hock terrine with cauliflower a la grecque, the foodie endorphins were well and truly flowing.

Feeling brave, I decided to go out of my comfort zone, opting to try scallops for the very first time while Ellie went for the chargrilled broccoli dish.

the chargrilled broccoli, left and the scallops, right
Too beautiful to eat? Not a chance as clean our clean plates at the end proved. Picture by Paul Glendell.

While waiting for our starters to arrive we got a pleasant surprise when a plate of delicious seeded soda bread suddenly appeared in front of us.

As a huge fan of soda bread, I quickly hoovered up every last morsel with the smoky style crusts hitting the right spot.

Ellie wasn’t quite as keen on the bread, finding it a little dry for her taste but nevertheless gave it a good go, only leaving the crusts on her plate.

Quick service was certainly the theme of the evening as before long our starters arrived.

Staring at the vibrant and colourful plate in awe, my scallop ceviche starter served with radish, buttermilk and chive oil was a beautiful sight to behold.

Wasting no time, I sunk my fork into one of the juicy scallops and what hit my palette was simply devine.

Succulent seafood: The scallop starter was a tasty triumph. Picture by Paul Glendell.

Succulent yet crunchy courtesy of the accompanying radish with flavour from the buttermilk and chive oil seeping through, it’s safe to say that my first ever scallop experience was an absolute triumph.

While I greedily devoured my scallops – nodding my head along with each delicious bite – Ellie was also in new food territory as she took in the colourful plate of chargrilled broccoli, poached egg and truffle hollandaise in front of her.

Judging by the “mmms” and “ahhhs” coming from across the table, it was clear that her beautifully presented starter had all the right ingredients.

The main event: The salt baked swede with goats cheese, fermented blueberries and gremolata was simply sensational. Picture by Paul Glendell.

Effortlessly efficient, the talented team of front house staff somehow managed to clear our plates away with us barely noticing.

With just enough time for a quick gossip, it wasn’t long before our mains arrived.

Bold and bright, just like our starters, our mains were also a work of food art.

Stuffing a fork full of salt baked swede, goats cheese, fermented blueberries and gremolata into my mouth, I died and went to food heaven.

The salt baked swede, goats cheese, fermented blueberries and gremolata
Work of culinary art: Hats off to head chef Brian Mcleish for his incredible dishes. Picture by Paul Glendell.

With a palette that is more accustomed to plain oven food and pasta, it was like my tastebuds were brought to life as an explosion of flavour hit my tongue.

Unable to speak as I inhaled one of the most incredible plates of food I’ve ever had in my life, Ellie was also in her own food heaven.

Describing it as “hands down one of the best dishes” she’s ever tasted, Ellie made short work of her roast salmon, glazed fennel, and new potato dish with lemon dressing.

Tickled pink: Ellie’s salmon was beautifully cooked with a delicious crispy skin which perfectly complemented the glazed fennel, new potato and lemon dressing. Picture by Paul Glendell.

Urging me to take a bite, I quickly agreed that the salmon with its crispy skin and gloriously soft flakes was excellent.

Agreeing that we would both lick our plates clean if we weren’t in full public view, the waiter laughed as he carried our “clean” plates away.

Happily stuffed to the gunnels, there was thankfully a slightly longer wait for our desserts.

Sweet dreams: The dulche de leche banana dessert with the icing on the cake. Picture by Paul Glendell.

As someone who has been known eat dulche de leche straight from the jar, to say I was excited about the dessert was an understatement.

Made with banana, dulche de leche and caramelised white chocolate, one spoonful of the sweet and smooth concoction was enough to send me into a sugar coated paradise.

“Incredible” was the verdict from across the table as Ellie devoured the moreish chocolate cremeux, blood orange and hazelnut dessert.

Chocolate heaven: Check the shine on that chocolate cremeux. Picture by Paul Glendell.

The verdict

“Incredible” is the word we kept uttering mouthful after mouthful throughout what we both agreed was one of the best three-course meals we’ve ever had the honour of sampling.

From the friendly and super efficient staff to the exquisitely presented and mouthwatering food, Moonfish Cafe certainly served up a meal that neither of us will forget in a hurry – especially my first ever taste of scallops.

Thing of sweet beauty: The phenomenal desserts left us wanting more. Picture by Paul Glendell.

As someone who isn’t accustomed to fine dining, I was a little nervous that I might feel out of place in the venue.

But I’m delighted to report that this could not have been further from the truth as from the moment we stepped through the door, the down-to-earth staff instantly put me at ease and were only too happy to explain some of the menu.

So for incredible food, excellent service and a stunning location, you can’t go wrong with Moonfish Cafe.

Twilight dinner: The Moonfish Cafe serves up honest food without pretence. Picture by Paul Glendell.

The bill

The final bill came to £84.95 which for three courses of the finest food plus excellent service and a fabulous location is money worth spending in my books.

To book a table

For more information about Moonfish Cafe check out their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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