L’Esslemont has found the perfect recipe for a modern kitchen.
Take an empty historic building – in this case, the former Esslemont and Macintosh department store at the top of Aberdeen’s Union Street – and turn it into a mood-lit bar and restaurant.
Pay homage to the building’s haberdashery past with a scattering of sewing machines and tailor’s mannequins.
Finally, serve delicious food aided by excellent and attentive service.
This is a formula that has worked since the opening of Esslemont in 2019.
And with the restaurant taking part in the upcoming Aberdeen Restaurant Week (ARW), a week more people can try for themselves.
Esslemont’s ARW menu offers three courses for £25 or two for £20.
Considering the restaurant’s main courses – some of which are included in the offer – alone approach the £20 mark, it’s an absolute bargain.
It’s also a chance to see the transformation of Esslemont & Macintosh, which for 137 years was Union Street royalty in Aberdeen.
Indeed, the store only closed in 2007 and remains a cherished memory for many in the city.
This was underscored when my dining companion for the evening revealed that his father used to design the shop windows, before his mother convinced him that his future lay in teaching.
Our server Simon did a great job of explaining the menu and with his help I opted for the smoked tofu spring rolls with a delicious peanut kimchi sauce.
My partner was lucky with her choice of bon bon haggis, which were crispy on the outside and oozy in the middle. If ordering food was a competition (and for me it really is), she would have finished the first round.
The second round came back to him. My pork cutlet was excellent, served with fresh cream linguini and pesto sauce.
But the seared beef medallions across the table were worth more than the extra £2 the Esslemont adds to them for the ARW menu.
Indeed, this dish was the star of the evening. With the medallions layered on a crispy disc of roasted sweet potatoes and a medley of spiralized carrots and zucchini, this was the worthy winner of our main course face-off.
I was now trailing 2-0. With only one course left, there was no turning back.
But consolation came in the form of dessert. My sticky caramel pudding was just the right measure of sweet and sticky, with enough sauce to ensure I would never be left dry.
By comparison, my partner was disappointed that her creme brulee didn’t make a satisfying crack when she broke off the top layer, although the lemon flavor made for a refreshing ending to the meal.
The ARW menu at the Esslemont is fantastic value for one of Aberdeen’s best dining experiences.
Meanwhile, the service is more than just window dressing, with the attentive staff adding an extra element to the meal.
We kept it without alcohol. But there is an extensive wine list and a good selection of cocktails.
The ARW menu allows you to exchange a dish for a cocktail or the house wine.
If you can, spend the extra money on beef medallions. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
And while you’re there, soak up the atmosphere of the place’s history.
The Esslemont may not last the 137 years of its predecessor. But he deserves his chance to carve out a new Union Street legacy.
Address: The Esslemont Bar & Restaurant, 38 Union Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1BD
Phone. : 01224 634815
For more restaurant reviews…
Already subscribed? Login
[The Esslemont carves out new Union Street legacy]