Martha and the Vandellas thought that summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets. We think it’s more about some amazing Bar-B-Q and eating at the beach.

Courtney tried: Lil’C’s Bar-B-Q Oyne

Lil C’s is a bit off the beaten path, nestled in the shadow of Bennachie in the village of Oyne. This is possibly the last place one would expect to find a good old-fashioned American Bar-B-Q joint.  Yet there it is, and it was hopping when we visited on a Saturday night.

Many come to Lil C’s for the perfectly seasoned ribs and thick milkshakes, but we sampled their new menu and between the four of us, we covered a lot of ground. I went for the house rub salmon fillet, with a homemade mango salsa on the side. The kids sampled a homemade chipotle bean burger, fried chicken and waffles, homemade buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy, a basket of sweet potato fries, and a Mac Daddy, which is a burger topped with a mound of macaroni and cheese. Amazingly, we saved room to share the Malibu roasted pineapple for dessert.

As an American, this is the kind of food I was raised on, so I can vouch for its authenticity. Here, it is all about the flavours, which are conveyed through their original rubs, sauces and salsas. Lil’ C’s is well worth the drive.

 Jan tried: The Pier Aberdeen beach

The seaside vibe is strong at The Pier, from the backdrop of Codona’s brightly coloured ferris wheel to the scrubbed wood effect floors and sea blue walls. The menu evokes holidays and weekends, with an appealing mix of breakfast and brunch dishes until 3pm (all day on Sunday), including pancake stacks and eggs lots of ways.

The lunch menu has light options, baked potatoes, paninis and flatbreads, plus some mains including handmade burgers and fish and chips. The Monday special was mussels, with a choice of three sauces, two sizes and your choice of side.

My friend had the starter size and pronounced them melt-in-the-mouth with a lovely mariniere sauce. I loved the pulled pork bun with sweet potato fries and homemade ‘slaw which comes with their signature P on the brioche bun. The drinks list is also extensive with everything from smoothies and shakes to cocktails and Eteaket teas, and you can get a Mackie’s ice cream cone to take away for pudding!


Alison tried: Molly’s Stonehaven beach

Molly’s is a long-time favourite in Stonehaven. It’s open for breakfast and lunch all week and you can also sample their bistro delights on Thursday to Saturday nights.

The eggs benedict and the cullen skink come particularly recommended. We dined early on a Saturday evening, when the relaxed atmosphere attracted a mix of family groups, friends and date night couples. Since Beloved was driving, I had a mood-enhancing Porn Star Martini, followed by two large wedges of meltingly oozy crispy crumbed brie with salad and a tangy home-made tomato, chilli and basil chutney.

Beloved is a little competitive as a diner, so he was pleased when his battered haddock was so big it overhung the plate. This proved to be perfectly cooked, flaky and moist and came with a pile of skin on-fries and a piquant tartare sauce. My chargrilled cauliflower steaks had an unexpected depth of earthy flavours, augmented by the slow roasted parsnips and crispy shallots. Beloved rhapsodised over his white chocolate brownie, but typically didn’t share and my baked apple with ice cream and excellently nutty crumble was a retro delight.

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