The Esslemont Bar & Restaurant

Restaurant Manager Neil Davidson offers a peek behind the scenes at The Esslemont…

I’ve been at the Esslemont since we opened in August 2019, first as Bar Manager, then as Restaurant Manager since the start of 2020. We had only been open for 6 months before the first lockdown hit. This was followed by a series of reopening and closing again as the pandemic really took hold. Hopefully with things slowly getting back to normal we will get the opportunity to properly establish ourselves as one of the best places to eat and drink in Aberdeen.  

We’re in the former Esslemont & Macintosh building on Union Street. The department store was always the first port of call for Aberdonian shoppers since it opened in 1873. After lying empty for many years, it was transformed into a stylish bar and restaurant. The interior design pays tribute to its history with small touches such as display cabinets containing dress makers chalk and old Aberdeen school ties. Like many locals, I can remember being dragged to E&M to buy my school uniforms! 

I have been in the hospitality industry for over 25 years, working in many of the city’s hostelries in various positions over those years. I joined The McGinty’s Group in 2015 and was previously bar manager at No10 Bar and Restaurant before moving to The Esslemont.

We aim to provide our guests with a relaxed dining experience, with great food in comfortable and stylish surroundings. As with all our venues across The McGinty’s Group, a huge focus is placed on customer service. Customer feedback has been excellent since re-opening post lockdown.  

We’re all so glad to be back. The seemingly endless weeks stuck at home are hopefully behind us all now. When I get time away from work I’m a keen, but terrible, golfer. I also do a bit of football coaching with one of the youth teams at Banks O’ Dee Football Club and have been trying to work through my coaching badges.  

We provide a little bit of something for everyone at The Esslemont. You can opt for lunch or brunch with 2 courses for £15 including the ever popular Eggs Benedict or Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles or splash out a little more in the evening or weekend with a 16oz Chateaubriand for two, the choice is yours.  We have our Sunday Roast menu that I think is the best roast in town.  We also have a separate vegan menu, gluten free menu and of course a menu for the little ones too. 

Our talented kitchen team have created a varied menu using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.  Our current menu includes a classic, Johnshaven sourced, lobster thermidor and my personal favourite, the roast pork fillet, wrapped in bacon and served with soft black pudding, sauteed potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and a toffee apple jus.  

The bar at the Esslemont has a beautifully styled and imposing back bar creating the perfect space to stay and enjoy a drink or two. Our skilled bar team create their seasonal cocktail menus. It can be difficult to get the right balance between being a restaurant and being a bar but luckily I was able to draw on the experience of working at No10 Bar and Restaurant which has a very similar set up. Some of our team work in both the restaurant and the bar, so they can provide great table service in the restaurant but they can also knock up a mean cocktail!

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