While the kids were at their grandparents on Thursday night, we decided to try Fennel in Inverurie.
Nice looking place and a lot bigger on the inside than I had imagined whenever I'd driven past.
The waiting staff were friendly, and welcoming although service was a little slow at times. The main courses took the best part of an hour to come but the waitress let us know about this in advance saying that it was because a lot of orders had gone in at the same time. We got water at our table with no charge (as it should be) and a couple of warm olive rolls which were good but not home-made I don't think.
Menu was interesting and varied. Mainly normal bar meal fare such as burgers, steaks, chicken breast, battered haddock and a few more interesting sounding dishes. A good selection for vegetarians too, for example, "Baked ricotta, parmesan and basil cake with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, served with a cardamom honey dressing" (£9.95).
I started with "Aultbea black pudding fritters with a spiced apple chutney" (£4.95). These were lovely - the perfect sized portion and enough chutney for the fritters. I would probably have preferred a little salad with it, though. Steve had the "Cullen Skink" (£5.25). It was okay but a little thick and salty and you can certainly get much finer in the area. I would expect a better Cullen Skink somewhere as local to Cullen!
My main was "Slow roasted belly of pork with mustard crust, bubble and squeak and cider and onion gravy" (£12.50). This was disappointing. The mustard crust was very gritty and overpowering. I also felt there was a lack of vegetables - there was a little cabbage in the bubble and squeak but not much. I love slow-cooked pork belly which is usually very flavoursome but this was quite dry and a bit boring.
Steve had "Rib-eye steak with home-made onion rings, hand cut chips, roasted tomatoes and vegetables and blue-cheese and port sauce" (£17.50). He could have had a Diane or pepper sauce instead. As it was, his steak was cooked beautifully - rare as he asked for - and the sauce was lovely. I was also quite jealous of his array of vegetables after having hardly any at all in my whole meal.
There was a nice selection of puddings but neither of us could manage any more. Had I had room, I would probably have chosen the "Chocolate and hazlenut creme brulee with Langues de Chat biscuits" (£5.25). Instead I had a hot chocolate and Steve had an expresso. It was half past nine by the time we got out which was fine with us as we wanted a relaxed meal but I might not risk coming here if I had limited time.
So, the bill for the two of us with two courses each, one soft drink, a hot choc and a coffee came to £45.15. I would certainly come back again - for a reasonably priced, local place it's definitely worth a second visit. I hope it keeps busy as it's lovely to have nice places to eat without having to go into the city.