Our daughter brought her boyfriend to Aberdeen for the first time and we were keen to impress. The forecast was looking good so we headed to one of our favourite north east towns, Stonehaven.
We just love the walk from the idyllic harbour to Dunottar Castle. When the striking fortress comes in to view perched atop the 160 foot rock and surrounded by three sides of the North Sea, I feel a little piece of pride.
Even in the depth of winter the viewsare stunning and we breathed in the fresh air as we regaled some of the castles secrets to our visitor.
Back in town we managed not to stop for drink at one of the harbour establishments and wandered along the beach front which was full of families and dogs enjoying the sea air.
We had booked in advance and just as well as the restaurant was busy when we arrived. Number 44 Hotel & Bar (formerly the Royal Hotel) is on the main street going through Stonehaven and has a large window on to the street.
Peering in we could see a labrador in the window, proof that the venue is also dog friendly.
We were shown to a table at the back of the room past a large bar and some booths. The room seemed a little cold and sparse with no cloths or mats on the tables, exposed brick walls and dark wood.
Our friendly waitress gave us our menus and took our orders for drinks. I ordered a rose wine but oddly they didn’t have any, so a white wine spritzer was the next best thing.
My fellow dining companions went for soft drinks and we all pondered the menus.
Lots of tasty options caught our eyes and we all deliberated a bit too much, as the waitress showed much patience returning a few times to check if we were ready to order.
To warm us up, a few of us went for soup, Cullen Skink and a Potato and Leek from the specials board.
A portion of haggis fritters and chicken tenders also somehow found their way onto our order.
My Cullen Skink arrived piping hot, packed with potato, leeks, smoked haddock and cream – a triumph of a dish.
The accompanying bread roll was warm and soft inside, with a crispier exterior and perfect for dunking into the soup.
Thumbs up for the other starters too – chicken tenders with an aioli dip and haggis fritters with a very moreish whisky cream sauce.
Our starters had barely been collected and our mains arrived. A slightly longer break might have helped as these plates looked laden with food.
Myself and my daughter’s boyfriend chose the creamy cajun chicken pasta with roasted peppers and a side of chips.
Served in delightful bowls, the pasta had a good combination of flavours and a nice zing without being too spicy.
The chips gave the dish a welcome bit of crunch although I had to admit defeat and leave some pasta behind as I felt too full.
My husband devoured his steak and Guinness pie, although it was more of a pastry lid on a bed of steak and gravy served with chunky chips and mixed vegetables.
He can be fussy about meat but said the tender meat was high quality and there was plenty of it – so no complaints there.
Last but by no means least was my daughters choice, three cheese macaroni with bacon.
For reviewing purposes I like to take quick snaps of the dishes so I can look back on them later, but she was half way through by the time I took the picture.
She said she had a bad experience with macaroni at a recent restaurant in London where the dish was overpowered with mustard.
Not the case here and she declared it was one of the best macaroni’s she has ever had.
The oozing cheesy pasta bake was rich with cheese and crisp bacon; a classic comfort food dish.
She requested to swap the chips for garlic bread which was duly noted by the waitress.
Unfortunately we could not manage a dessert but they sounded good – sticky toffee pudding or a No.44 chocolate brownie to go then!
A great place to visit for some proper home cooked food right in the heart of Stonehaven. Plenty menu options, a grill section and a ‘specials’ board gives the diner ample choice.
Service with a smile was provided throughout our visit. Next time I might just have to skip the soup and try one of their delicious sounding desserts.
Bill for four: £85.25
Address: Number 44 Hotel & Bar, 44 Allardice Street, Stonehaven
Contact: 01569 762979