I’ve been going out to dinner regularly with the Three Fairy Godmothers for almost 17 years now – a habit which began around the arrival of Child No 6 in our combined offspring tally, currently (and finally, surely!) standing at 9. Before that, we used to favour the kind of Girls Nights Out that end either at a take-away or each other’s throats. (We argued about politics. Some of us. A LOT)
These three oldest and dearest friends of mine received their rather “panto” title because I’ve got a litter of kids and Presbyterian upbringing. Therefore, I needed a lot of Godmothers. The “fairy” bit’s a mere affectation on my part…though they have been known to dress up with wings and wands if a godchild’s birthday party demands it.
Anyway, by the time the desperate husband of FG2 brought her teeny baby (Child No 7) to our dinner location, so that she could breastfeed in his car (Don’t Even), we’d long given up wild, alcohol-soaked nights, with a fast food chaser, in favour of anywhere serving decent grub and a break from our various offspring and Significant Others.
Over the years, we’ve visited mid-priced establishments throughout Aberdeen city and shire: often on a recommendation; sometimes with a Spree Voucher; virtually never going back to the same place twice. There are places where we regret our “Try A New Place Every Time” mantra – and our recent visit to Café 52, in The Green, definitely falls into that category. This restaurant’s seasonal, flavoursome, confident food, served by friendly, knowledgeable staff had us regretting the choices we DIDN’T make from the menu because there were just so many interesting dishes we wanted to sample.
Café 52, owned and run by Steve Bothwell, owes a great deal to the “homemade with a twist” touch that his mum brings to the table. Our Restaurant Week Evening Menu said,
“Where you see ‘Holburn’ mentioned, that’s Mrs B’s garden”.
So Mrs B grows and preserves the Chinese Plum Sauce, which elevated our duck confit to exciting heights. And, where you see “Baked Holburn Apple” appear, again homegrown by Mrs B, you’d be foolish to miss it – we had ours as a starter, replete with a curried yoghurt cutting through any danger of over-sweetness, and scattered with pinenuts for added crunch.
Aside from Mrs B’s contributions, Café 52 clearly has a knowledgeable and adventurous kitchen staff. There’s simply nothing “Meh” on offer here. However, in a delicious, varied menu, the fish stood out – it’s a pure pleasure when you can tell just by looking that you’ve been served the freshest of fish. Elsewhere a side of Fried Kale With Sweet Chilli Sauce had us scraping the dish for the last amazing flavours. While “Buttered pork loin with Holburn organic apples, barley, cider and tarragon” sounds ideal for an Aberdeen Inspired Restaurant Week that heralds the arrival of Autumn and “cosy food”. If Café 52 can source it locally, they will. And it shows.
However, the last word must go to Mrs B who also “does the puddings”. As Fairy Godmothers do, we dipped into each other’s puds, a tasty tart, a pleasantly chewy-meringued Eton Mess and the most gorgeous Bread & Butter Brioche Pud with Blueberries. Then we closed our eyes, waved our magic wands, and wished for the calories to disappear!