It was Angela’s birthday last week which gave the perfect excuse (as if we needed it) to go for a slap up meal. I’ve driven through Aboyne a lot recently on my way to training with Deeside Runners at Glen Tanar and noticed a small restaurant which looked interesting. We checked it out online, booked a table and jumped on a bus heading west.
The Candlestick Maker in Aboyne is a small restaurant overlooking the village green. In previous lives it’s been a butchers and a bakers so you can see where the inspiration for the name came from. The restaurant promises a menu (£24.50 for two courses and £28 for 3) full of local produce which changes daily.
First impression is of a small, sunny room (which got a bit too sunny as the sun got lower making it hard for photography) with a good mix of intimate small tables and some larger ones for groups. Staff are welcoming and friendly. The music is low enough to recognise (sounded to me like a mix of trad CDs – the awesome Lau, Cara Dillon and something else) but not loud enough to intrude on the meal in any way.
Angela had been eyeing up the mussels since she spotted it on the online menu examples so she was pretty chuffed to see them included on the menu. As is often the case once they arrived it seemed like a daunting prospect as a starter. Fortunately for her I was on hand to help shoulder that burden. The thai curry sauce is an interesting twist which gave the mussels plenty of zing. My starter of smoked chicken and chorizo salad was also delicious; albeit not as generous as the mussels. Another slice of chicken and one more piece of chorizo would have made it the perfect portion for me.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the main courses: pan-fried sea bass with pesto crushed potatoes and greens for Angela; pork fillet with black pudding and gratin potato for me. The pork dish was great. Lovely pork fillet with succulent black pudding adding some necessary fat and the cheesy tatties which thankfully for someone with an uneasy relationship with cheese weren’t too strongly flavoured. My only criticism is that the pork fillet got a little lost amongst the black pudding and cheese. Perhaps another cut of pork would have stood up to the flavours a little better. The sea bass was cooked perfectly with beautiful golden crispy skin. It tasted as good as it looked too. The portions were spot on – filling but not over the top. Which left plenty of room for dessert…
It’s funny to think I always skipped pudding until a few years ago. Unless it was chocolate I wasn’t interested and even then I usually preferred to just order a coffee. How things have changed now! I love hot and cold combinations in puddings so apple tarte tatin was high on my wanted list. It’s fate became sealed when I asked if it could be served with some vanilla ice cream as it wasn’t clear on the menu if this was the case. The homemade tarte was awesome. Just the right balance of fruit and pastry which was made all the better for being joined by delicious vanilla ice cream. So delicious I was firing straight into it before remembering to take a picture! The crepe suzette was pretty faultless as well with its tangy, boozy orange sauce.
Overall this was one of the best meals we’ve had in ages. A small, friendly restaurant serving great food using local produce and at a decent price. Every town and village in the country should be full of restaurants like this and it’s such a shame so many small communities just have pubs serving up reheated stodge they’ve bought in from brakes. Small places like The Candlestick Maker are in great need of support when we have them.