Like a phoenix from the flames The Adelphi Kitchen rose from the ashes of La Stella. Its arrival on the Aberdeen restaurant scene was hotly anticipated thanks to a clever social media campaign which whipped the city into a frenzy of anticipation with the promise of a charcoal pit, smoking cabinet and dirty steak. The launch party in February lived up to the hype. Fantastic atmosphere, decor, menus, staff, food and drink. Adelphi overnight became the place to eat out in the city.
Turn back the clock to June 2013 when I was the highest bidder in a silent auction for a 'Chef for a Day' experience at either La Stella or The Courtyard. When I heard on the foodie grapevine that a revamp of La Stella was on the cards I decided to hold my horses on redeeming my voucher until the reincarnation as Adelphi Kitchen. The day arrived for my experience and I was somewhat nervous. Not helped by my 11 year old son winding me up that it was going to be all Hell's Kitchen like and I'd be in tears out the back. Whites ironed and comfy shoes at the ready I headed to face the music.
I got off very lightly as my day didn't start until 10.30am by which time the kitchen was already in full swing with prep for the day. Head Chef Murray wasted no time in setting me to work. Alas he never introduced me to the rest of the team, cue them having to ask if I had a real name or if they should just call me Foodie Quine. Thomas, Luke, Tasha and José all made me very welcome in the kitchen. Hopefully I didn't get under their feet too much throughout the day.
Lunch service began at 12 and up until then it was all about the prep list. Ensuring that everything was in place so that when both lunch and evening service started all was ready to go. I got stuck in to making black pudding, chargrilling vegetables, lighting the fire pit, prepping stock and pulling pork. Asbestos fingers were required for many of my tasks throughout the day. When lunchtime service arrived I was shown how to plate up the dishes ready for the front of house crew to swing into action. Alas no orders for dirty steak over lunchtime but the charcoal smoldered on regardless. If you can't stand the heat, The Adelphi Kitchen is not the place to be.
The time passed really quickly and soon it was cleandown after lunchtime service, staff lunch (got to be the best in the business!) and further prep. Breadmaking, deserts, veggies, seafood, meat, stocks and sauces all in place for the Saturday night rush. Foodie Loon, boy and girl joined me for dinner at 5pm. I got to leave the kitchen and head to our table to order my meal. Just enough time for a quick swig of G&T before returning to the kitchen to cook my own supper.
For my starter I opted for Oysters, boy went Bourbon & Lime Tempura Squid with Pineapple & Chilli Chutney and Foodie Loon Shetland Mussels with Scrumpy & Pancetta. Girl was saving herself for the main course so chose bread. Back in the kitchen where I'd never opened an oyster in my life before. Tasha showed me the ropes and taught me a new skill. Squid dipped in Tempura batter and deep fried by me whilst Murray cooked the Mussels.
With no dirty diners at lunchtime I couldn't miss out on the chance to cook a Dirty Ribeye for my main course. Foodie Loon went for AK Burger #3, boy had Cures, slow cooked and slow smoked Pulled Pork and girl Hog Mac 'n' Cheese with Crispy Bacon Crumbs. Back to the kitchen where it felt very unnatural to put a steak straight onto the coals. The baste devised by Marcus of Country Woodsmoke only adds to what is already fantastic cut of meat from Davidsons of Inverurie. We all thoroughly enjoyed our mains with all four of us sampling each others along with a selection of sides - chunky chips, onion rings, red slaw, baked beans, baby baked potatoes and charcoal greens.
I'm not normally one for deserts but felt it would be rude not to sample what I'd seen being prepped earlier. Tiramisu Knickerbocker glory for me, PB&J for boy, girl had the best sorbet ever whilst Foodie Loon had coffee and an extra spoon. In for a penny in for a pound I also had to sample the Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail that was winking at me from the specials board. It was amazing and a perfect way to round off a fantastic meal and experience.
Big thanks to the whole of team AK inside and outside the kitchen for making me so welcome and sharing their knowledge and skills with me. Special thanks for not making me cry. Whilst I headed home with my family to put my feet up they were only half way through a fully booked Saturday night service.
Less than a fortnight later I was back at AK. This time hosting my own Foodie Quine Event. When Adelphi launched, Executive Chef Chris Toner said he was committed to following in the footsteps of The Courtyard and La Stella to run foodie events with their suppliers and close friends. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to partner on one such event and in collaboration with Chris we came up with "Favourite Things". Pretty much my ideal menu incorporating all of my favourite foods. The 40 places sold out in less than 24 hours. Very pleased to discover that my favourites were also loved by others.
My plus one for the event was BFF who presented me with a lovely gift to mark the occasion. As gorgeous and artisan as it looks, I'll share her secret. It was from Asda. I was contributing Rhubarb Gin to the desert part of the evening so brewed up a new batch. We served it in individual jam jars with a raspberry sugar rim.
1 litre gin
Optional Flavouring - Vanilla Pod, Ginger, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest
Wash and chop rhubarb and crush with a pestle and mortar or similar. Combine with the sugar and gin in a suitable receptacle Add any desired choice of flavouring. Be patient and keep it somewhere dark for at least a couple of weeks to infuse. Strain, serve and enjoy!
A welcome glass of Prosecco and Elderflower was followed by an Amuse Bouche of Homemade Black Pudding and a deep fried bon bon of Devenick Dairy Blue Cheese. Starter was a seafood sensation. I honestly couldn't choose my favourite between the Crab and the the Tempura Langoustine.
Unfortunately we had to alter the advertised main course which meant there was nothing dirty on the menu. The available hangar steak just wan't aged enough to do justice to the dish so was replaced with a mini version of the AK #3 burger. As great as it was it was completely overshadowed by the amazingly tender melt in the mouth pressed shortrib.
Gin and Rhubarb delights for desert with a tasting plate of sorbet, doughnut, sauce, Gin panna cotta and Rhubarb Gin. Desert perfection in my book. Time for tea to round off the evening and I'd sneaked in another of my passions in the form of vintage crockery provided by Hazel at A Vintage Tea Party. Those who know me will be chuckling at the pictured Earl Grey tea. It is definitely not one of my favourite things. Builders tea every time.
Join the mailing list for special events (perhaps a Foodie Quine #2) and get in touch at email@example.com if you fancy giving their "Chef for a Day" experience a shot.