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Restaurant review: Quirky dishes that tantalise the taste buds at City Bar and Diner in Aberdeen

City bar and diner
Quirky cuisine: Enjoy food from across the world at the City Bar and Diner. Pictures by Paul Glendell

They do say that opposites attract but sweet potato fries and marshmallows, really?

That was the inner thought swirling round my head as I clocked the rather unusual food combo jumping out of the extensive menu at the City Bar and Diner in Netherkirkgate.

Without giving too much away just yet, all I can say is that when something looks wrong on paper, it usually means it’s right.

Located just a stone’s throw away from Union Street, I’m ashamed to admit that I had walked past the venue many a time without giving it a second glance.

City bar and diner in Aberdeen
Hidden gem: The City Bar and Diner enjoys a central location in Netherkirkgate.

With its subtle granite grey exterior, the venue is almost camouflaged into the brickwork which could explain my ignorance.

On what was a particularly sunny evening, me and my growling stomach scanned the menu outside while waiting on my pal and fellow Society chum Jamie to arrive.

Just as I was getting rather hangry – a potent mix if hunger and anger – Jamie appeared and we hot footed it inside.

The Venue

First impressions were excellent as the minute our feet crossed the threshold we were greeted with friendly “hello’s” not only from the polite server but also from the chef who could be seen preparing dishes in the open plan kitchen area.

As people watching is one of my favourite hobbies I was delighted when we were led up a few more stairs and shown to a table with big floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bustling Netherkirkgate.

Inside City bar and diner
People watching: Enjoy tasty grub while watching the world go by.

Before getting sucked into the huge menu, I drinked in the restaurant’s interior which, like the exterior, was nonchalant with a palette of neutrals and greys complemented by wooden tables and a bar area.

Adding to the relaxed atmosphere was the mix of customers, from friends enjoying some food over a bottle of wine and couples quietly savouring some alone time to a ladies celebrating a birthday night out.

The dining area of City bar and diner
Homely vibes: The restaurant is friendly and relaxed.

The food

After our friendly server took our drinks order – a Fanta Orange for me and a BrewDog Punk IPA for Jamie – we dived into the large menu.

From the smooth truffle and cashew parfait and tandoori haloumi to the chargrilled chicken satay and mozzarella caprese, it was a tough job narrowing down the starters.

I eventually settled on the golden fried stuffed mushrooms while Jamie opted for the haggis bon bons caesar salad.

The golden stuffed mushrooms with chicken at City bar and diner
Starter for 10: The golden fried stuffed mushrooms with chicken liver pate hit the right spot.

In what felt like no time at all, our beautifully presented starters were suddenly in front of us.

Crunching my way through the delicious golden fried outer layer, an explosion of flavours and textures hit my palatte with the juicy mushrooms oozing with delicious chicken liver pate.

Using the mushroom as a mop, I scooped up some of the accompanying crunchy apple mayo which added a delicious new dimension to the dish while the garlic mayo added some coolness.

City bar and diner
Pretty presentation: The stuffed mushroom starter looked and tasted good.

Looking across the table, Jamie was making short work of the haggis bon bons.

Flavoursome and full of textures, Jamie said the mix of the crispy panko crumb haggis bon bons with bacon, cos lettuce, herb croutons and the whisky dressing was sensational.

In fact Jamie was so in love with the bon bons that he would’ve liked to have seen more on his plate.

The haggis bon bons at City bar and diner
Scottish sustenance: The haggis bon bons were a winner with Jamie.

Licking our plates clean – well not quite but we both agreed we would’ve done that in the comfort of our own homes – it was time for the main event.

Instantly catching my eye was the panko fried king prawn sushi roll served with a golden fried king prawn panko roll – drool – and accompanied with coconut tempura monkfish with crispy seaweed, potato salad and wasabi dip.

Also turning my head was the macaroni cheese pattie, a vegetarian dish served with a panko crumb and garlic mayo.

The Polly barbecue jerk chicken City bar and diner
Sea of colour: The Polly barbecue jerk chicken was a triumph.

Trying and failing to shake off my fascination with the unusual sweet potato and marshmallow side, I opted for the Polly barbecue jerk chicken.

“Are my eyes too big for my belly”, I thought as the server brought a large and colourful plate to my table accompanied by a separate large bowl of sweet potato fries and marshmallows.

The sweet potato fries and mini marshmallows at City bar and diner
Sweet tooth: The sweet potato fries and mini marshmallows were a match made in foodie heaven.

Without hesitation, I quickly forked a sweet potato chip with one of the melty mini marshmallows on top and braced myself.

So wrong but oh so right, I can confirm that sweet potato and mini marshmallows are a thing.

The mix of the light sweetness from the potato and the sharper sweetness from the mallow made it work.

The Sicillian tagliatelle City bar and diner
Deliziosa: The Sicillian tagliatelle got the thumbs up from Jamie.

After satisfying my sweet (potato) tooth, I turned my attention to the vibrant burnt orange coloured Polly barbecue chicken served with purple coloured slaw.

The smokiness of the barbecue sauce together with the chargrilled flavour from the chicken made for a delicious dish.

Add in some crunch from the slaw and boom.

With such a generous helping, I ended up dunking the sweet potato fries and marshmallows into the moreish barbecue sauce.

The Sicillian tagliatelle at City bar and diner
Bellissimo: The Sicillian tagliatelle was bursting with flavour and plenty of tuna fish.

It was a similar story across the table as Jamie tucked into his Sicillian taglietelle.

At first he thought the lemon was slightly too overpowering in the dish but eventually decided that the sharpness worked.

He was also impressed by the hearty chunks of tuna that were entangled in the pasta with a wee kick from the chilli and rocket.

Too stuffed for desserts, we settled instead on coffee – an Americano for me and a latte for Jamie – served with shortbread which was a lovely wee touch.

Coffee and shortbread at City bar and diner
After dinner coffee: The shortbread was a lovely wee surprise.

The verdict

With such a quirky yet tasty menu, an excellent city centre location and super friendly staff, City Bar and Diner is a hidden gem of a restaurant.

In the words of the bold Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back.

Address: 37-39 Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen, AB10 1AU

T: 01224 649592

W: www.thecitybaranddiner.wordpress.com

Price: £50.90

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