As a young child, I used to stay in the Costa del Sol, in the South of Spain, in a town called Fuengirola, near Malaga, Marbella, Torremolinos and Benalmadena.
Since then I have regularly returned to this area of Andalucia for ‘trip down memory lane’ vacations with family and friends. The town of Fuengirola bears no resemblance to the sleepy fishing village at that time I resided there. Fuengirola used to be separated from El Faro, La Cala, and other urbanisations down the coastline towards Marbella, and further onwards to Gibraltar, which is now joined all the way down that stretch of the coast.
I have very fond young memories of going down to the beach with my family and frequently dining out in Spanish restaurants, tapas bars and beach bars. I was ‘raised’ on dishes like tortilla (omelette); boquerones en vinagre or fritas (fresh anchovies in vinegar or fried); jamon; chorizo; ensalladia rusa (Russian salad); potata bravas (cubes of potato in a spicy, tomato sauce); and salchichon (Spanish sausage), for example. I loved to see the boquerones being barbecued on open ashes on a boat in front of the beach bars on the Paseo Maritimo (promenade) of Fuengirola.
Such was my affiliation with this area of the South of Spain, I returned to work in this area for approximately one year during my late teens. This was another chapter in my life which I thoroughly enjoyed. During this spell, I was once again able to regularly go out to sample the local tapas. I once again fell in love with Spain and the family valued and very friendly Spanish people, before returning to the colder climate of the North East of Scotland.
Much to my surprise on my return, and for many years there still was not an authentic Spanish tapas bar in Aberdeen; and there was a big ‘gap’ in this ‘niche’ market, given the amount of visitors to Spain each year. La Tasca Restaurant then opened up in the city centre on Union Street, Aberdeen, but this failed to meet anywhere near the authentic spanish food standards I had been used to, on my holiday visits or during my residential spells in the South of Spain, which was most disappointing.
This was followed a while later by the opening of Cafe Andaluz, just around the corner from La Tasca, with easy access from Union Street. I was really excited about this as I had previously dined at Cafe Andaluz, just off George Square in Glasgow, and was impressed by the food, service and surroundings.
I have frequently been to Cafe Andaluz in Aberdeen and I’ve never once been disappointed. The spanish tapas are fresh, authentic, surroundings are comfortable and decorated in Andalucian/ moorish influenced style to a really high Iberian standard; the friendly service is first class and the prices are very reasonable. There is a wide selection of food and beverages on offer, to include my favourite red wines, such as Rioja Marques de Caceres. Also on the drinks menu are cava, sangria, and a choice of spanish draught beer, cocktails, mocktails, soft drinks, tea, coffee, water, and spirits.
On my most recent visit, I decided to try some Spanish tapas that had been recommended to me by other satisfied clients. This was from the Menu Especial, whereby diners can select three dishes (with others at an extra cost) from £12.95 from 12 noon – 630 pm, Monday to Friday, which is fantastic value for money.
I ordered Albóndigas (Spiced pork and beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce); Paella Valenciana (A delicious combination of rice, chicken, chorizo, shellfish and seafood, flavoured with saffron); and Pollo Rebozado Con Miel (Chicken fillets in a light crispy batter drizzled with a honey and grain mustard dressing), which was delicious.
I was accompanied by two members of the family and my daughter, Lillie. Lillie, had chicken fillets and ice cream with a sauce off the children’s menu, which she also thoroughly enjoyed. The others ordered Carne De Res Picante (Spicy strips of beef on a bed of rocket with Manchego cheese and chorizo oil); Chorizo Y Butifarra Negra Sautéed (chorizo sausage and black pudding in a spicy tomato sauce); Gambas Pil Pil (Hot roast king prawns with olive oil, fresh chilli, paprika and garlic. – £1.95 Supplement); Chorizo Al Vino (Sliced chorizo sausage sautéed in red wine); Patatas Bravas (Skin-on halved new potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce and alioli); and Tostada De Champiñones (Sliced mixed mushrooms, garlic, truffle oil and smoked Tetilla cheese on crisp croutons). For desert, I ordered meringue with fruit, which was really nice.
Once again our food was fantastic. We had no complaints whatsoever. This ticked all the right boxes for Spanish tapas in Aberdeen – menu, food, setting, service, location, price &c. There also sharer platters, a la carte and menu del dia (menu of the day), in addition to what we decided to choose from.
The only negatives are the trips downstairs to the spotlessly clean and modern toilets, albeit there is a disabled toilet upstairs. I would also like to see Cafe Andaluz in Aberdeen add ‘ensalladia rusa‘ to their menu, but that is just a specific craving of mine, and they cannot cater for everyone’s personal choices.
I always feel that the sign of a good restaurant is when you wish to return again at the earliest opportunity. I cannot wait to return on Saturday, 5 November 2016, with my husband and three friends, and I have no hesitation in highly recommending Cafe Andaluz to any perspective customer thinking about booking a table for Spanish tapas in Aberdeen.
(Images Credit: Cafe Andaluz)