Ich bin macmannie aus Aberdeen. Ich bin Qyper seit dem 30.03.2008
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363 Union Street, Aberdeen, Scotland AB11 6BN
Bruce Miller’s is listed as a record shop, but that’s a bit like listing Gordon Ramsay under takeaways just because you can technically get a takeaway from some of Mr Ramsay’s joints. OK, maybe that comparison’s a little over-the-top. But hey, you don’t go to Bruce Miller’s to buy CDs. You go to check out their guitars, drum kits, saxophones, pianos, amps, etc; you go to get advice from their friendly and knowledgeable staff; to browse their magazine section or the audio kit upstairs.
The audiovisual stuff on the upper floor is a bit of an enigma: some years back, they did a roaring trade in TV rentals, but now you mostly find Bose stuff and some other good quality kit (Sony, etc). Word of caution: I believe they outsource their set-up technicians, and I have heard a horror story or two. On the other hand, the in-store staff are good. Just remember their job is to sell you stuff!
There is a little cafe on the upper floor too. I’ve only ever seen little old ladies having cream cakes there, but then maybe I’m biased. I’ve only grabbed a cup of coffee there once, and had a lovely waitress (v friendly, v cute… don’t worry, I behaved myself!)
Yes, there is a bit of the upper floor with racks of CDs and so on. There’s usually some good traditional Scottish music and books, too.
But really, Bruce Miller’s collection of musical instruments, is its best aspect in my book. They also arrange classes for aspiring guitarists and so on - I haven’t tried this, but a friend liked the facility very much a couple of years ago. The distinctive shop-front with instruments behind plate glass, and the little musical animated clock sticking out above the entrance are inviting; I might just take up the guitar again…
234 Union Street, Aberdeen, Scotland AB11 6NP
Handy, reasonable place right on Union Street - very central. The selection of pre-packaged food and fruit is fairly good, and arranged in a no nonsense mini-mart type layout. My gripe is with the hot food bar, which should be the special point of this establishment. They have what is at first glance a tempting array of hot food behind glass counters - alas, only if the staff were able to do justice! Maybe I’ve encountered the same shift every time I’ve been, but they could certainly do either with more sleep at night, a bit of caffeine, or just some manners.
And it hasn’t just been me, I’ve watched customers in front of me being served. The staff seem to be parroting set lines in an automatic fashion. It reminds me a little of Jasper Carrott’s sketch where he contrasts American fast-food counter eagerness (“goood morning, sir, yesss, sir, have a nice day! can I ** your **?”) with an English teen at Burger King, finger digging deep into his nose: “Wha?” OK, so McLeish’s isn’t nearly so bad, but I want to like the place for its convenience and hot food, and feel let down.
Paradoxically, the checkout kids are always polite and helpful. I wonder why?
Apart from that, I would have liked to see a little more seating space - I mean, two chairs in the window is just pretence.
I wish I could justify more stars, but I can’t. I do hope they’ll improve, though.
Mission Street 575, San Francisco
The place looks lovely, with a tall airy interior and promising glass windows in counterpoint to the dark colours. There was plenty of space around the tables, and the staff were reasonably good. The wine was competent. So why am I complaining?
I didn’t enjoy the food much. For starters we had spare ribs. Large, meaty ribs, with a generic ribs-type sauce tasting vaguely “oriental”. It wasn’t bad, just not special. Then came the main course: mahi mahi with crushed macadamia nuts, a Hawaiian classic, I understand. One of our small group was a bit worried about this, but his companion was an expert in fish, and she quickly assured him that mahi mahi was nothing more than a firm-fleshed fish, of almost poultry consistency. I’ve had mahi mahi before, and the dish they served up here was as well prepared and cooked as any I’ve eaten. I believe there’s some controversy about cheaper fish being passed off as the real thing in other parts of the US, but I had no doubts here about authenticity.
My quarrel was with the macadamia nut thing. These nuts are fine to chomp, mixed with other nuts. Macadamia nut oil has its uses in small amounts for salad dressings and so on. I understand that crushed macadamia on fish is a Hawaiian thing. But our food had whole nuts crushed and virtually blended into a sauce, sadly with all the palatal allure of tepid vegetable oil mixed with chalk. And that, I’m sorry to say, ended my enjoyment of the dish.
Now would be a good time, then, to issue a disclaimer - may be I’m just finicky, or a philistine when it comes to appreciating Hawaiian fusion food. Perhaps a different dish would have had me in raptures. But all I can do is tell it like it happened when I was there last week. The next morning, in conversation with a botanist, I discovered that macadamia nut oil is used a lot in skin creams. That can’t be relevant, surely?
Finally, having opted to miss dessert (I’ve got a waist to watch, you know), I asked for tea. Terribly non-American, I know, and anyone who has ever taken their taste buds in their hands by trying to get tea in the US knows what I mean, but I risked it. Standard black tea, not the horrible Lipton stuff, arrived - but in a glass tumbler! Yes, I’m sure it wasn’t green tea. No milk, of course, but not even the strange half’n’half stuff they tend to serve. I finally persuaded someone to get me a bit of lemon. A bit like how I felt about the whole evening, actually.
Post Street 400, 94102 San Francisco
When in America, you expect to be able to eat large bits of meat, don’t you? You maybe hope that it’s not GM and that you are getting more good protein into you rather than the hormones that were given to the poor moo-cow in the first place, but if you start dwelling on things like that you’re starting down a long slippery slope into angst, self-doubt and eventual veganism. Trust me, I’ve been there and back, and it’s not pretty.
The entrance to Morton’s, likewise, is not what one would call pretty. Post street is not particularly picturesque as San Fran streets go, but I felt comfortable in an European-street kind of way. Then I stepped in through a promising doorway onto a tiny landing with steps disappearing into the basement. And on to a crowded large hall full of tables, with strange displays in between, which reminded me of the crab-seasoning and clam chowder displays in the middle of some east coast/Baltimore eateries. Side rooms had sliding doors, and I got the occasional sight of private parties within.
So, I guess the place loses half a point in the ambience (US!) category, as also the fact that there’s not really enough place for waitresses and serving carts and similar paraphernalia among the tables and pillars and stuff. On the other hand , the decor includes a display of meat at one end, though I’m not sure it was intentional, as there was some traffic of the stuff at the kitchen end of the hall. Also, wonderfully, there was a tariff board up on the wall listing the sorts of things you could order. For a hundred-odd dollars, you can order a 48 oz steak - that’s right, forty eight ounces! A kilo and a half!!
Our steaks were a lot more manageable. They have a very quirky method of asking you how you want yours done. They ask you to describe what it looks like when it’s done the way you prefer, then they come up with uniquely American ways of describing it, using words like double-extra-fine and super and what-not. Or maybe that was just for us yokel tourists. Whatever it was, it worked: the steaks were excellent. They “butterflied” mine, splitting the meat chunk in two and leaving the centre a touch pink.
Bread came first, in a foot-diameter circular “loaf”: other tables shared their loaves by just breaking bits off, but we very properly sliced ours into quarters using the only knives we got - massive serrated edged steak knives, even for the starter bread! These were replaced by more identical knives for the steaks. They came in useful for the only vegetable provided with the steaks - enormous heads of steamed broccoli, the size of which was a source of amusement in itself. Maybe we’d been sampling a little too much of the excellent red wine - the grapes grown not too far away. Despite the overall fel of the place, it was easy to feel relaxed: the staff were friendly, courteous and very helpful when I thought I’d lost my phone.
If you’re going to San Francisco and aren’t wearing flowers in your hair, go visit the Morton’s steak house. It’s worth a visit. Whether you’ll go back or not, I think, will be an individual choice, depending on how much you liked the tasty steaks vs the experience of the place.
44 St. Andrew Street, Aberdeen, Scotland AB25 1JA
A very handy little place just a hop and a skip away from Robert Gordon University and the school, just along St Andrew street from John Lewis and the pedestrian areas/shopping malls of city-centre Aberdeen. But is it any good? Well, yes. Kind-of. Nae bad, as north-east Scots would say.
The food is very Italian. I know that sounds odd when I put it like that, you’re not expecting a place called ‘Mediterraneo’ to serve sushi. What I mean is that the food is not a neutered, internationalised version of Italian. It’s not all bland pizzas and platefuls of rocket soaked in olive oil. The range is excellent for a small place, and service is quick.
There is a little takeaway counter which is mobbed at lunchtimes, as you might expect for a place so central. The service is quick and friendly. If you can’t find something for lunch, you don’t like Italian food. If you’re feeling less rushed, go in and ask to sit down - there is a smallish restaurant with plate glass windows to the street, and a wonderful hidden upstairs bit. I went there with a colleague this past week, and it was a delight to be shown upstairs, like stepping into a cupboard and discovering a hide-away that’s a restaurant!
Efficient, polite, friendly service. A wide choice on the menu, pastas to salads to ciabattas to soups to lasagnes, you get my drift. Under £15 for two with soft drinks! You can’t argue with that, can you?
19 Correction Wynd, Aberdeen, Scotland AB10 1HP
First off, a Qype grumble - if you search for La Bonne Baguette, you find two entries, the other one weirdly named La Bonne Baguette 2003. Like a version of Windows or something (biased? moi? never). Now to add to the confusion: the restaurant is now called La Bonne Brasserie. I hadn’t been there for a while, but a leisurely lunch there last Saturday was a tonic.
Friendly but efficient staff and a good quality menu. A central location a stone’s throw off Union Street. Good selection of wine. What’s not to like? Actually, since you asked, just one teeny wee thing. The tables are too small. Maybe I’m slobby (don’t think so), maybe I need extra space (not obese, not yet, anyway), maybe I just like space. I’m not asking for a twelve seater mahogany table, lit up with candelabrae and one place set at each end. Just enough space for a couple of dishes on the table at the same time.
Sorry. Have I been ranting again? It’s not really the Bonne Baguette/Brasserie’s fault, I just have a general grouse about this small table thing in otherwise good restaurants. And this is a very good place. Soups, main courses, desserts, are all well worth the tariff - under £60 for two not counting wine. Hey, it was the middle of the day; admittedly not always an excuse, but let it go this time.
Yes, I will go there again. With friends, associates, nights out from work. Maybe not with that special someone ;) but then you need space for romance, don’t you?
Westhill Drive, Westhill, Scotland AB32 6TT
This review only relates to the restaurant at this hotel. Called Luigi’s, it is handy for the western end of Aberdeen, as also the commuter town of Westhill, as evidenced by the fact that it is quite popular on weekends. I’ve been there a few times, generally on Saturdays or Sundays, and I like it. The food is good quality and the service is efficient. The menu is also quite diverse, though obviously mostly Italian as promised by the name. The choice of wines on offer are decent, too.
The staff are generally obliging - one visit there I was with an eccentric companion (lovely but a bit barmy, occasionally ate like a horse, but BMI firmly under 19 …) who decided to start with a main course, then ordered another, and when I was looking at desserts, asked for a starter. The staff hid their smiles well and got us our orders without a murmur.
If there is one criticism, it’s the lighting which can be a bit halogen-harsh, although I noticed last month that they were improving this. The general decor is a little dark and heavy, so strident illumination tends to jar. The restaurant has little side-booths which are better and softer lit.
The menu advertises the Albyn restaurant, which I’ve reviewed on Qype - I’m not sure what the link is, but given the quality of the food, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I heard that they shared management or kitchen.
Approximately £50 for two with a couple of drinks. Nae bad, I’d say, for what you get.
rue du Grand-Pre 35, Genève
I found this hotel on my last trip through a BA booking. It promised 4 stars, and I can only assume they are tiny little stars. Having said that, it is a decent enough hotel in a central location, and no worse than similar places I’ve stayed in.
My check-in experience was poor, but I think that was due to a sub-standard receptionist rather than the hotel’s systems. When I objected to the unmade smoking room I’d been allocated, despite a clear request, the lass asks me: “But is the smell so strong?” D-uh. I have smoker friends, but I don’t want to smell like them. The duty manager was a pro, and all ended well.
There’s no restaurant, but the centre of Geneva and the railway station (Gare Cornavin) are barely a 10 minute amble away, so there’s no shortage there. There are reasonably close bus stops - remember, all Geneva hotels give you a free public transport pass (bus/tram/boat) for the duration of your stay. The hotel does have a little bar. At night, the receptionist seems to double as the barman, so it was a little amusing for a while. In keeping with the cottage industry theme, my departure was funny as well. I requested a (free) drop-off at the airport, as advertised. When I turned up at check-out, the duty person asked me to wait for the bellboy. I started explaining that I’d already brought my suitcase down - only to be told, with a hint of embarrassment - he’s also the driver.
Overall, I can’t complain too much. The place did its job as a city hotel in an international city. I wasn’t paying boutique prices, so I’m satisfied with the convenient location, reasonable room and basic breakfast.
rue du Mont Blanc 26, Genève
This place is a Geneva institution - it’s website’s Historie section goes “Dans les annees 1930…” But we’re interested in the here and now. So what exactly is it? A cafe? Only in the sense that the United Nations building is an office block. On the other hand, it is as one-track as the UN is diverse. The thing is, it does one thing only - steaks in a unique sauce.
Stick with me, it is a place worth the hype. It’s easy to find, next to the railway station Gare Cornavin, as you walk towards the lake. It’s not so easy to get a table at peak time. The best way is to walk in confidently, past the pavement tables, and ask the senior chap (black waistcoat) directly for a seat. You may have to wait a few minutes, but they are quite friendly. The waiters are generally preoccupied (the place is busy, remember) and not much use for anything apart from getting food and drink. Most will oblige with English, too. Just remember to start out ‘Bon soir, madam/m’sieu’ before you do your impression of Ali G.
The place is crowded, a bit of an elbow-to-elbow dining experience, but there is genuinely enough place to properly eat a steak. And what steaks they are. The official description is entrecote, which I understand to mean rib-eye. Now, I normally prefer fillet steaks, but the Cafe de Paris do something special with their bits of beef. But then, they also do a special sauce, which is rumoured to have liver and cheese and mushrooms - you can certainly taste all these. The secret ingredients are the subject of speculation, just search wikipaedia to see what I mean.
The steaks come on a bed of the sauce, on a platter that is placed on a burner that lets the steak bubble away in the sauce as you tuck in. They promise three helpings of les pommes frittes, done in the thin “fries” style that I like. Of course, you start with a green salad and a crusty roll. Tip - go for the French wine. Apologies to any Swiss wine die-hards reading this, but one has to draw the line somewhere.
Any other steak I’ve ever had, anywhere else in the world - I prefer it medium to well done. A hint of pink in the middle is all I’ll usually tolerate, but at the Cafe de Paris asking for ‘well done’ brings you a cut more pink than anything else. And simultaneously marks you out as a gauche tourist; as if you were pretending otherwise. One of my companions on a recent visit, a Fifer, asked for hers blue, and raw it was. I bravely went for medium and was amazed by how much I enjoyed what most places outside Argentina would term decidedly rare. I’ve also ordered well done, and without murmur have been served a lovely pink/medium steak.
Would I go there again? Hell, yeah. At forty Swiss francs (about £20) it’s a cracking deal. And I’m not even a proper carnivore in my friends’ eyes.
43 Market Street, Aberdeen, Scotland AB11 5EL
Je ne connaissais même pas l'existence de l'Hôtel Douglas jusqu'à ce que j'ai assisté à une conférence qui s'est tenue ici l'autre jour, et je pensais que j'en connais pas mal sur l'hôtellerie d'Aberdeen. Ce fut un plaisir de trouver cet hôtel Olde-monde, situe sur l'une des rues de granit d'Aberdeen, celui-ci se trouve entre un casino et l'entrée du port. Alors, l'endroit n'est peut-etre pas ideal pour les familles, mais le bâtiment est comme un hôtel de chemin de fer traditionnel. En bois foncé et des angles bizarres abondent. Le personnel était sympa, et tout était propre et fonctionnel, mais quand meme un peu use. Il y a une salle de bal de taille raisonnable avec piste de danse en bois - et du materiel de conférence. Une chose désorientante, un petit inconvenient, est le tapis bizarrement rayé des années soixante-dix au rez de chaussee. Rappelez-vous, Je n'ai pas sejourne dans les chambres, donc je ne peux pas commenter dessus. Dans l'ensemble, l'hôtel est très bien situé dans le centre ville, proche de la gare et du port. Ce n'est pas moderne style verre et chrome, mais ca semble approprié dans les limites de mon expérience, et il y a des choses utiles comme le Wi-Fi (mot de passe de l'hôtel).