No.10 Bar & Restaurant in Aberdeen is steeped in history and the granite building itself dates back to 1877. They recently picked up the gong for ‘Best Informal Eating Experience’ at the Scottish Thistle Awards national final. Here we chat with Alan Aitken Operations Director about the business and about their win.
How does it feel to be national winner of the Scottish Thistle Awards ‘Best Informal Eating Experience’?
Amazing…we went down to Edinburgh with no expectations to win so to be successful on the night was a truly fantastic moment for us. As a new business from the North-east, we were just proud to be representing our city and to be recognised by the industry and many key tourism individuals was amazing. Our main ambition for No.10 Bar & Restaurant was to enhance the North-east food and drink sector so this award is a real honour.
Aberdeenshire is home to some wonderful produce. Can you tell us more about your sourcing philosophy and the food and drink products you particularly like working with?
At No.10, we constantly strive to source the best local and high quality fresh produce. We serve a brasserie style menu based on modern Scottish cooking and we change our menu seasonally to offer our customers variety and as a way to showcase Scotland’s amazing larder.
Our head chef, Andy Stephen is big lover of fresh fish and seafood and speaks with his contact daily to check what has landed so he can create some amazing dishes for our ‘market catch of the day’ which is now one of most popular items on the menu. We also use many small local producers including The Store in Foveran, Turriffs of Montrose, Ola Oils, The Bread Maker, Caber Coffee to name a few.
How did you get into the hospitality industry? What advice would you give to anyone considering a similar career?
I have been in the industry for more than 25 years, originally working up the ranks in a local hotel in Elgin, starting from kitchen assistant to front of house and chef. I moved through to Aberdeen to study hospitality management before running a traditional busy bar in the city centre.
I was approached to manage our first pub McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale by my now co-directors who had become aware of the lack of local independent pubs in the area. I looked after the day-to-day running of McGinty’s and now eight years on we have five venues in our portfolio.
Are there any particular trends you are noticing in the business?
For No.10, we aim to offer good quality food at an affordable price in a relaxed yet stylish dining and it seems this concept has been a success. We have also created a multi-use venue with the separate bar & restaurant which allows us to target a wide customer range from males to females and business professionals to families. We seem to bridge the gap between fine dining and the informal dining which appeals to a wide audience.
At the heart of our business is customer service. We have always focused on this and we feel it plays a huge part in our success. It’s fair to say our customers are looking for quality food and drink with service to match and that’s our main focus.
How do you plan to build on the success of your win, and what can customers look forward to in the next 12 months?
The award win has been truly amazing for our business and the No.10 team. The refurbishment was a huge investment and hard work for our team as it was our first step into the restaurant trade so to speak so we are all very proud. We are going to continue doing what we do whilst enhancing our offering and providing our customers with the very best dining experience.
Last year we launched our own foodies club which has been really successful so will continue to build on this and introduce other food and drink events where possible. We have just partnered with the first Aberdeen Gin Club so we will be working closely with them to host events.
This recipe for monkfish is by Head Chef – Andy Stephen – No.10 Bar & Restaurant.
Andy Stephen has more than 15 years of industry experience, originally starting his culinary career in the West Coast at the Applecross Inn before moving to Aberdeen at the age of 16. Prior to joining No.10 Bar & Restaurant as Head Chef, Andy worked at a number of popular restaurants in the city, achieving his first head chef role at the age of 23.
Andy and his team are passionate about local, fresh and seasonal produce to create top quality classic dishes with a unique twist.
Roast Monkfish tail wrapped in pancetta with lemon & thyme risotto and chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables
- Fresh monkfish tail (2 x 6oz portions)
- 4 thin slices of unsmoked pancetta
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 30g grated parmesan
- 1 small lemon – zest and juice
- 3 sprigs of thyme – picked and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finally chopped
- 3 pints of vegetable stock
- 6 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 175g risotto rice
- 75g mascarpone cream cheese
- ¼ bottle white wine
Mediterranean vegetables – cut into large diced pieces and roast in oven
- 1 courgette
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 red onion
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil & seasoning
Monkfish tails wrapped in pancetta:
- Season the monkfish tails
- Lay out the slices of pancetta, overlapping slightly. Place the seasoned monkfish in the middle and fold the pancetta over the monkfish to cover it
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, Place on a tray lined with baking paper and place a knob of butter on each. Bake for 8 -10 minutes depending on thickness.
Lemon & Thyme Risotto:
- Place your pan of stock on heat, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer
- Place the butter, oil, onion and pinch of salt in a pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion gently for about 4 to 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the rice and stir well to coat every grain and add in the white wine, half the lemon juice and half the zest and cook for one minute. Remember to keep stirring gently.
- Add in your hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir well until the stock has almost disappeared into the rice. After about 15 minutes of adding stock, start to taste – the rice needs to be tender but still have some bite to it.
- Take the pan off the heat, quickly mix the parmesan, mascarpone, thyme, lemon juice and zest into pan and then beat this into your risotto quickly.
- If risotto is too thick, add in a little bit of stock. Taste & season.
To serve complete dish:
- Spoon risotto on plate, place the vegetables around the plate, and place the monkfish tails on top. Garnish with a lemon wedge and herb oil.