Our daughter brought her boyfriend to Aberdeen for the first time and we were keen to impress. The forecast looked good, so we headed to one of our favorite towns in the northeast, Stonehaven.
We love the idyllic harbor walk to Dunottar Castle. When the striking fortress appears perched atop the 160ft rock and surrounded by three sides of the North Sea, I feel a little pride.
Even in the depths of winter the views are magnificent and we breathed in the fresh air as we regale some of the castles secrets to our visitor.
Back in town we managed not to stop for a drink at one of the port establishments and strolled along the waterfront which was full of families and dogs enjoying the sea air.
We had pre-booked and just as well as the restaurant was busy when we arrived. The Number 44 Hotel & Bar (formerly the Royal Hotel) is on the main street through Stonehaven and has a large window overlooking the street.
Looking inside, we could see a labrador in the window, proof that the place also accepts dogs.
We were shown to a table at the back of the room in front of a large bar and a few booths. The room seemed a bit cold and sparse, with no tablecloths or mats on the tables, exposed brick walls and dark wood.
Our friendly waitress gave us our menus and took our drink orders. I ordered a rosé wine but oddly they didn’t have any so a white wine spritzer was the next best thing.
My table mates went for soft drinks and we all pondered the menus.
Lots of tasty options caught our eye and we all deliberated a little too much as the waitress showed great patience coming back several times to check if we were ready to order.
To warm up, a few of us went for soup, Cullen Skink and a potato and leek from the specials board.
A portion of haggis fritters and chicken fillets also found their way into our order.
My Cullen Skink arrived piping hot, loaded with potatoes, leeks, smoked haddock and cream – a triumphant dish.
The accompanying roll was warm and fluffy on the inside, with a crispier exterior and perfect for dipping into soup.
Thumbs up for the other starters too – chicken fillets with aioli dip and haggis fritters with a very plus whiskey cream sauce.
Our starters had barely been picked up and our mains arrived. A little longer break might have helped as those plates seemed laden with food.
My daughter’s boyfriend and I chose the creamy cajun chicken pasta with roasted peppers and a side of fries.
Served in delicious bowls, the pasta had a good combination of flavors and a good zing without being too spicy.
The fries gave the dish some welcome crunch although I had to admit defeat and leave some pasta behind as I felt too full.
My husband devoured his Guinness steak and pie, although it was more of a pastry lid on a bed of steak and gravy served with chunky fries and a medley of vegetables.
He can be picky about the meat but said the tender meat was high quality and there was plenty – so no complaints.
Last but not least was my daughter’s choice, three macaroni and cheese with bacon.
For review purposes, I like to take quick shots of the dishes so I can review them later, but she was halfway through when I took the picture.
She said she had a bad experience with macaroni at a recent restaurant in London where the dish was overpowered with mustard.
This is not the case here and she said it was one of the best macaroni she has ever had.
Baking the oozing cheesy pasta was rich in cheese and crispy bacon; a classic comfort food.
She asked to swap the fries for garlic bread which was duly noted by the waitress.
Unfortunately we couldn’t manage a dessert, but they sounded good – sticky caramel pudding or a #44 chocolate brownie to take away then!
A great place to visit for good home cooking right in the heart of Stonehaven. Numerous menu options, a grill section and a ‘specialty’ board provide dinner with plenty to choose from.
Service with a smile was provided throughout our visit. Next time I might skip the soup and try one of their delicious desserts.
Bill for four: £85.25
Address: Number 44 Hotel & Bar, 44 Allardice Street, Stonehaven
Contact: 01569 762979
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[Home comforts on Stonehaven shore]