Another year has passed and where 2021 wasn’t the year we thought it would be, the new year brings another fresh start for what we hope will be a more positive year.
Once again the hospitality industry was (and still is) under threat with Covid restrictions however, resilient as always, food businesses powered through bringing new concepts and scaling up in a year of uncertainty. 2021 appeared to be the year of food and drink but 2022 is shaping up to be an equal rival with these new developments I have on my radar.
Holiday makers from the UK may be barred from France right now but lucky enough for us in Aberdeen that we have Cafe Boheme to fill the void.
Give me a roaring fire, exceptional French come Scottish cuisine along with good wine, I’m anyone’s – that’s why Cafe Boheme always sits high on my list. Opening just before Christmas, its private dining, tasting and wine room brought an eclectically ambient space to spoil all (and I mean all) the senses. Stocked wall to wall with racks of wine, intricate carpentry and atmospheric lighting, its new addition will most certainly take its renowned Parisian experience to the next level (something I didn’t even think was possible.
Owner Paul Mair shared: “The Cafe Boheme Wine Room is a purpose built space designed for wine tasting dinners and events. We’ve created a space with a warm and relaxed atmosphere that we feel our guests will enjoy.
All the events will be hosted by ourselves in collaboration with wine producers and distributors in addition to the whisky and beer tasting dinners that we have planned too.”
Reimagining the bunkers of Aberdeen’s historic Shiprow, this quickly put the building blocks in place as a food district celebrating local business. Rich in history as well as flavour, vibrancy here is strong with The Ivy Lodge Bar, The Workshop, Aberdam Fries, Olive Alexanders (more on that in a minute) and the Hole in the Wall Pizza Co. in its neighbourhood spoiling visitors and paving a new era.
As promised, more chat about Olive Alexanders. Bringing together fine wine, cheese, meats and bread with family and community at its heart, this online delicatessen brought joy to many back in March 2021. Where cheese meats wine (like what I did there?), owners Hayley and Emily curated a specialist selection of products to create epic sharing boards at home or simply keep fridges and pantries in healthy stock of quality products.
Not long after its launch, the fine food brand took up its first kitchen residency at Bar Ninety-Nine and soon went on to take up a spot in the Shiprow Village making it quite the year for the brand. The fish finger sandwich with lemon Mayo, kohlrabi slaw and crisps is out of this world.
Entering the new year, its sister concept Barbelow is set to open on Golden Square in March adding not only a bar to the city but bringing the Olive Alexanders online shop to life above the bar. Not giving too much away on its Instagram, I reached out to owners Emily and Hayley to find out more.
“Olive Alexanders has been trading now for just under a year and we will be making 8 Golden Square our home in spring where our focus will be to grow the Delicatessen. We plan to continue providing new and exciting fine wines, showcase the incredible produce of Aberdeenshire and the rest of Scotland, as well as bringing some world classics to the deli.
“We will also unveil a ten table bistro as part of this venture as well as a beautiful event space. Barbelow is the latest addition to the family; this basement beauty will be bringing its own menu of crafty cocktails, extensive fine wines, and scrumptious small plates from Olive Alexanders kitchen.
“The Granite City is a great contender in the growing food and drink culture, and we are extremely excited to be joining the long list of young entrepreneurs who are already making a difference.”
Just a few articles ago I included Vegan Bay Baker in my selection of the best places to grab a sweet treat in the region and popularity has never slowed. With a loyal tribe of fans it was only a matter of time before the plant based baker would open up its first shop.
Teasing a picture of a gleaming set of keys to its new abode in November, head baker Steve is keeping shtoom on what to expect so make sure to keep a close eye for the latest updates.
The redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens has been a contentious issue for years but after many consultations, debates and unavoidable headaches, the work is finally coming to a close to reimagine one of the city’s most prized spaces.
Included in the development are three pavilions open for lease and I’m delighted to see Common Sense Cafe setting up base here and not a chain cafe making us like any other city. Headed up by John Wigglesworth, Director of Books and Beans (cracking pancakes here by the way), he hopes to revive the city centre bringing people back together with local food, drinks, books and entertainment. .
“Aberdeen is beautiful, and it means so much to many” John explains. “Union Terrace Gardens is a special space that needs passion and belief in the development of the pavilions to deliver the space to the benefit of the community.
“This is what we do best, making community spaces to create special moments. We commit to respecting the heritage of our city and to build for the future of Aberdeen with a space that will play host to a comfortable, stylish and inclusive environment where incredible local food and drink mingle with excellent conversation, enjoyable books and live performances. Let’s discover, enlighten and celebrate together.”
2022 may be off to the same reminiscent uncertainty as its predecessors, I can be certain that there’s plenty to get our teeth stuck into this year. With much more in the pipeline for the rest of the year, we will undoubtedly be well and truly spoiled.