Before I start my review, I have a confession to make. A miserable tale of electronic devilishness.
Like the annoying snapper at a wedding, I’d walked around the restaurant, pointed my lens at everything I thought looked amazing, and sat back in the knowledge I’d a lot of lovely images, including great ones of my kids enjoying a rare evening out with their parents. Cheerily I loaded my SD Card, looking forward to printing some off for the kids and for my review, to find nothing registering, nada….dead as the preverbial Dodo.
So, in short, all I can do is tell you how it went for us. Pictures usually say a thousand words, but in this case, the thousand words will have to do instead. I’ll try to make them easy reading, but I know that without those colourful additions, it’s really difficult to convey how good our experience was last week.
To make up for it, I’ve borrowed some images directly from Harvester, so thanks go to the PR team allowing me to do that.
This blurry picture is the only one I’ve got from my phone when we were about to leave the house. Not ideal, but I was looking forward to going out with my family.
The lovely offer of a meal at our local Harvester was welcome indeed. We had a very lovely meal, which was a really nice family evening, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Seeing my boys eat so much was nice too, although the fussy youngest went for a kids meal, which was no problem.
Our Harvester, the Ghillies Lair, is set at the Bridge of Dee, and overlooks the Dee itself. The restaurant has a lovely extension with views over the River Dee, which would be a lovely sight on a nice evening.
The Bridge is old, very old, and dates from 1527. It’s used daily by all sorts of traffic, to leave or enter the City of Aberdeen. It’s built along a row ribbed arches, using granite and sandstone. I’ve known that bridge my whole life. Along with the old suspension bridge a bit further along, it’s steeped in history, and we’re lucky enough to still be using this one, although the suspension bridge was closed to traffic long ago.
The Ghillies Lair has an outdoor seating area, overlooking the river, for lovely summery days, and although we’re not there yet, but I’ve fond memories of sitting outside on a nice day for an ice-cream when I used to work at that end of town.
What can I say! Our server was lovely and nothing was too much trouble. She was polite and friendly and they accommodated my wish for the BBQ Chicken Stack, without the BBQ sauce as I don’t often like it. She even posed, in good spirits, for an impromptu picture that’s gone belly up with my SD card. Perhaps she’ll be very pleased about that… I did spring it on her, without warning…. 🙂
Three of us went for the set menu, we had one child dish and I chose from the regular menu. In our local Harvester, there’s an evening set menu, where from 5pm every evening, we have the choice of a main meal + either a starter or a dessert for £10.99, or add a third course for £2. There was lots to choose from and the menus are online, so it’s easy to take a cheeky peek before you go.
It was nice to see the option of drinks that we can refill as often as we want ourselves, as with three kids, our drinks bills, even for soft drinks, often outprices the cost of meals. No worries here, with the ability to choose from several different options, and fill up with ice and fizzy drinks as much as we wanted. I know many people don’t like fizzy drinks for kids, but when we’re out, it’s a treat, and I’ve always been happy enough for my kids to choose what they want. Sometimes one of mine chooses a water or orange juice, but refillable drinks tick the boxes for me.
A whole bar of them. Loads and loads to choose from. BBQ, tomato, relishes, mayonnaise, speciality glazes and lots of different sauces to choose from.
What can I say. Lots of different choices, from coleslaw, beetroot, pickled onion, tomatoes, lettuce, carrot, and much much more. The trays were replenished throughout and I felt confident I was eating fresh food. It’s not a one visit fits all, so we could visit the salad bar as often as we liked. My eldest went up three times for a top up. There was plenty to go round for everyone.
Bread, butter, croutons, dressings, bacon bits and more, were also available. If someone goes in there and says there’s nothing to choose from, I’d think they were nuts… Wait, that’s exactly what my youngest said…… No problem. Kids menu and chicken in a southern fried coating with chips saved the day.
The man and middle child chose from the set menu, going for the Signature Fish and Chips, with Ice-Cream for afters. When their fish and chips arrived, the plates were brimming over with the large fish and enough chips to even keep middler happy. He’d already eaten four or five of the small bread rolls from the salad bar, and a bowl – brimming full of salad. Eldest went for the set menu burger, and I had the BBQ Chicken Stack. There’s a sauce station with lots of different sauce and glaze options, so I had plenty to choose from. Much more than I’ve ever seen in any restaurant I’ve been to in the past.
Spoiled for choice, we couldn’t decide. Three opted for the simple ice-cream, but I decided to throw my calorie budget to the wind and go for the Rocky Road – a sundae full of chocolate brownie deliciousness, topped with fresh cream, and including honeycomb and fudge pieces.
My youngest chose the Chocolate Fudge Cake with Belgian chocolate sauce and real dairy ice-cream, and the slice that came seemed huge. He did have a dilemma when he compared it with the Eton Mess Cheesecake, as the raspberries in sauce and fluffy cream were a definite screaming taste bud temptation.
His eyes popped when the cake was carried out.
‘I’m going to eat it all,” he announced to our waitress, with a smug grin…. She smiled knowingly.
At the point he exhaled with exhausted happiness at eating as much as he could, eldest quickly slid the plate over and began to dig in. By the time he sat back and patted his full belly, there was even a little left over.
Information and Nutrition
This may not seem like much to some of you, but to some pernickety chiels, like me, and many others, allergens and nutritional content is important. I want to know where I sit with my calorie and nutrient budget for the week.
Working a weekly budget fits high calorie items into my life. I don’t do deprivation. As a diabetic, it’s essential for me. At many restaurants, I have to guess by plucking figures out of thin air and hoping for the best, but not with the Harvester – as they had all the information on their website.
They also have an allergen, gluten and milk guide, so meals or special diets can be planned in advance. I had two very high calorie dishes, but because the information was all there, it was easy to fit it all in, and be confident that I’d got it pretty right. And it was worth every last wicked calorie…
Between the five of us, we ate masses of food. Apart from the meal, how much else we eat, is up to us.
With the unlimited salad, sauces, breads and fizz. I can’t imagine anyone ever leaving a Harvester, and still being hungry. And with a clean and fresh ladies room, everything I looked for ticked all the boxes. I don’t remember having such a lovely evening with my boys for quite a while. Having all the teens in one place and eating together gets harder and harder as they grow older.
Although we benefited from a welcome voucher towards our meal, we thoroughly enjoyed it, and will be back as full paying guests. We’ve been to Harvesters before, and always enjoyed the experience.