In the lead-up to the inaugural Aberdeen Restaurant Week I've decided to explore the offering of some of the restaurants involved in the project.
With Indian cuisine being one of my favourite to enjoy out, I took this opportunity to step away from trying out the usual restaurant I would visit and try out another one of Aberdeen's best kept secrets, Shri Bheemas.
Located on Belmost Street, the restaurant couldn't be any more central. And with plenty of bars around, there's so many places you can enjoy a drink or two after your meal.
Having little knowledge of traditional Indian food having never visited the country, I enjoy getting as an authentic experience as I can when I'm at home. Obviously British Indian food can be quite different from traditional Indian food (depending on regions and flavours/produce available in the season) but I feel, following my experience at Shri Bheemas that their food does Indian cuisine more than justice.
You won't find the restaurant at street level, you have to use your eyes to hunt it down, but once you see the sign in the window, it's pretty self explanatory from there. Heading up the stairs, we walked out into an open restaurant space. At first I thought the restaurant was smaller than I had been told, and with no one around I wasn't quite sure where to go...
It wasn't until a young man came round the corner and directed us to the main dining room that I realised how big the restaurant actually was. The decoration and interiors were pretty simplistic, nothing out of the ordinary and nothing that really stood out all that much either.
Our waiter for the night took our drinks order and left us to browse the menu. The room smelled magnificent.
Having a nosy at the menu, I was finding it hard to steer away from the usual Indian dishes I order. The waiter gave his recommendations and with that, we were ready to order.
I love fish with mint sauce so one dish in particular caught my eye, the spicy mint scallops. Pan seared, the scallops were beautifully cooked and were just lovely. With a wee hunt of chilli and peppers, the dish was slightly warm, but the mint sauce which sat between the bed of cucumber and the scallop cooled the dish off.
Calum - who's also thoroughly enjoys an Indian - opted for the Murgh multani kebab. With four tender pieces of chicken marinated in a garlic, ginger, browned onion paste, there were a lot of flavours bursting through the dish. The caramelised gram flour coated the chicken pieces and with the hung yoghurt, tasted absolutely divine.
Both dishes came served with a wee salad with the dish too - some see this usually as garnish to finsih the dish off, however no food goes to waste so I demolished that too.
After our starters were cleared we patiently awaited our mains. The restaurant wasn't overly busy, but I didn't expect it to be on one of the first Tuesday's of the year. There were a few groups in, which was great to see as it gave us a chance to check out what everyone was eating. Eyeing up the dishes, it was the naan breads that really caught my eye. They were huge, and they smelled incredible.
When we go out for an Indian, we don't tend to order rice but instead, we order a naan each. Lovers of korma, we decided to get two dishes and share them. The first, of course, being a creamy korma, and the second the tiger prawn bhuna.
The creamy korma was just that, creamy. It was lovely and velvety, and the mildly spiced coconut sauce was simply sublime. We ordered the korma to come with chicken, although lamb and vegetable options were also available. The chicken was very tender and the korma had a slightly fruity taste to it too.
Looking to marry the sweetness of the korma to something with a little more zing to it, the tiger prawn bhuna was the perfect dish in providing just that. The juicy tiger prawns were extremely succulent and were cooked in a mellow, delicate flavoured curry with an abundance of spices and mixed peppers throughout. Calum couldn't get enough of the bhuna whilst I dived into the korma continuously without hesitation. I really enjoyed the bhuna dish, almost as much as the korma, almost...
One of the stand out things for me during my meal at Shri Bheemas had to be the naan. This was the best damn naan I have ever tasted in Aberdeen and I can't quite believe that I've never had the chance to try it out until now.
The bread was cooked to perfection. There are no other words to truly describe how good this bread was other than it's the best I've ever tasted. A lover of sweet things, peshwari naan is always my go-to. This naan did not disappoint. Not only was it drizzled with a beautifully sticky honey, it was stuffed with deliciously delicate pieces of grated coconut and crushed nuts. I couldn't get enough. Partnered with the creamy korma it was a match made in heaven.
I smelled Calum's chilli garlic naan before I saw it. The garlic and chilli were extremely pungent and fresh. The naan was layered with garlic and chilli and garlic was also minced on top of the naan, as were the finely chopped green chillies.
Cooked in a clay oven, both of the naan's were absolutely gorgeous and both of us agreed that there were the best naan breads we've ever tasted in the City or Shire. Although they were rather pricey - but worth every penny in my opinion as there's lots of it!
A new establishment ticked off the bucket list, we sat observing the other diners in the surrounding area as we finished our drinks. The waiter cleared our almost empty plates and enquired about the possibility of dessert. Even if I had wanted to, there was no way Calum or I had any space left for another morsel.
It wasn't long before we asked for the bill and said our adieus to the staff who had been ever so welcoming and accommodating to us and all of the other customers that evening.
Heading home, we waddled back up Union Street out of the warmth into the cold, fresh air. I have to admit, Shri Bheemas is one of the best Indian restaurant's I've visited in the city and my only regret is that I hadn't visited sooner.
For those who haven't had the pleasure of visiting Shri Bheemas yet, there are two locations for you to choose from. The first being the city-centre restaurant on Belmont Street, and the second being in Bridge of Don.
If I've got one piece of advice for those looking for something different during Aberdeen Restaurant Week, be sure to check this place out.