My twin brother and I turned 30 on Wednesday. Don’t think that’s quite sunk in yet. Putting aside our grief for lost youth we’d arranged a family meal at Atlantis, the restaurant attached to the Mariner Hotel on Great Western Road, Aberdeen. I used to live near this restaurant and had been eyeing it up for a few years, waiting for an excuse to give it a go. A fully booked first choice (The Tolbooth) was the excuse we needed.
Seriously I don’t think I’m too bothered about not being in my twenties anymore. I woke up on Wednesday feeling pretty much the same as I did the day before and have done every day since. The only real difference was because I’d taken the week off work I was able to spend my birthday being pretty slovenly. I lazed around the living room, browsed the net, played some xbox and then spent an hour or so strumming my guitar with the amp turned up a little louder as I’m now getting old so obviously it’s not as easy for me to hear the notes as it used to be.
Eventually it was time for the main event of the day and another joyless encounter with a Stagecoach bus driver. There was a bizarre mexican standoff when I produced a twenty pound note and she claimed she wouldn’t give me change for it (“this is all the change I’ve got and it’s to last me until Aberdeen” – Just how many more people was she expecting to get on between Banchory and Aberdeen!?). Eventually common sense prevailed, as my girlfriend often does, and paid my fare with something smaller she found in her purse.
There was little drama for the rest of the journey and little complaint about giving change for any of the passengers that came after us, but we still arrived at Atlantis looking forward to a great feed. As the name suggest, this is a seafood restaurant. Lobster is a speciality, caught quite locally at my former home village of Catterline. The menu is also sprinkled with a selection of less fishy fare, a mixture of local produce (game and lamb) cooked excellently in a contemporary French style for the most part.
In the run up to the dinner I’d been telling myself I was going to order the oysters and the lobster, having tried neither before. When the day came the temptation of pork belly grabbed hold of me and I couldn’t resist it. Guess I don’t have enough crisp pig fat in my life! My brother Dave won the starters round with his choice off the specials board of pancetta with mussels, char and shrimps. It looked amazing. Unfortunately it was not for sharing…
He also made a good choice of main course, opting for the roast rack of lamb. I’d eaten a lot of lamb recently so stuck to my guns with the split and grilled lobster. Now you can argue about the value for money of a dish like lobster and whether it’s really worth the high price a restaurant charges for it. But there’s no doubt that it’s a lot of fun to eat. Served with a dish of melted garlic butter on the side, I had a great time cracking the claws and fishing out the sweet meat to then dip in the butter. The rack of lamb, my Dad’s venison dish and my girlfriend’s chicken may have been cooked better but they weren’t a patch on the lobster for entertainment.
Desserts all appeared to be made on site, my chocolate orange cheesecake was delicious. So delicious I didn’t remember to take a picture until the plate was clean, sorry if you wanted to see it. The chocolate covered honeycomb looked pretty good as well. Then after dessert my Mum managed to embarrass us by having the waiting staff bring out a chocolate cake covered in pictures of us from school. Thanks Mum.
Service throughout the meal was superb and the overall experience was faultless. It says a lot that the restaurant was busy, as was the adjoining bar, on a cold Wednesday night in November.
As we departed for the night I didn’t feel like I was at the top of a slippery slope, hurtling towards middle age without any means of slowing me down. No, but I was full up and very happy after a fantastic evening of food and company.