Restaurant review

Bach Symphony of Culinary Delights in Dundee

I had breakfast at Bach and loved it so much I went back for lunch the same day.

And I must say that if they had been open for dinner, I would have been very happy to return a third time to this wonderful place to end a day of taste pleasure.

The Bach is so good.

Quite simply, if it didn’t exist in Dundee, someone would have to invent it. Luckily for us, someone has already done it.

The Bach

I’ve been here several times and have written about it before too, having loved The Bach since its first incarnation at Exchange Court – when going there felt as much like a celebration of old Dundee as a harbinger of a new city.

The truth is, I hadn’t planned to revisit The Bach this week, simply because I’ve written about it many times before and had it on my list to come back to later this month.

But the original place I had planned to review wasn’t available at the right time and you’d be surprised how hard it is to find a place that opens every day of the week in Dundee.

You might also be amazed at how many businesses still struggle to know their opening days and hours, and even their address.

Outside the Bach in Dundee.

As we enter a new phase in the fight against the pandemic, this type of information is crucial and yet some companies still hide it at the end of their website, or do not mention it at all.

Not so with The Bach, whose awesome site is as straightforward as you’d want on a day when you just want to find something good to eat.

The first thing you see on their website is the cheerful information that this place is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm. This is followed by the message Aroha nui, stay safe.

Aroha nui means great love, much love, with deep affection in Maori and I can think of no more apt expression to see so prominently on the website of a place which so brilliantly exemplifies the art of ‘hospitality.

Quite simply, The Bach is the best restaurant in central Dundee, and I can’t wait for them to open in the evenings so the experience can expand.

Inside The Batch room.

First of all, the space itself is beautiful.

Here is a place that feels modern and looks outward looking. By that I don’t just mean that some of the tables have a view of the wonderful McManus Gallery and museum across the street, lovely as they are. It’s something deeper – it’s a vision that embraces simplicity, eclecticism, function and comfort. It’s bare floorboards, simple furniture and good lighting. It is a space designed to relax and it feels international and
not parochial.

As such, it’s one of downtown’s few forward-looking dining spaces.


The place

It’s perhaps unsurprising that The Bach is owned and run by two New Zealanders, as it’s a relaxed yet knowledgeable space that could happily exist in any metropolitan setting in the world.

Their website states their story is one of independence and I’m already hooked – there are far too many horrible chain restaurants in Dundee. The blurb on the site continues: “Started and run by a couple of wandering Kiwis, we try to do the best casual food around – from eggs on toast to walking buns to burgers. We complement this with specialty coffee, roasted in Scotland, wine from around the world and some really good craft beer, most of it sourced from the fledgling New Zealand scene.”

Murray liked the interior of the room.

The staff are young, cool and enthusiastic and the service is good.

There are a few different seating areas and each has their merits, but I probably prefer it on the mezzanine where you can admire the pleasant bustle below or through the McManus window. The main seating area is on the ground floor and at the end are two other areas – a Tap Room area and another dining area.

A hidden space on the mezzanine and around the corner is the place to go if you have a secret rendezvous, whether for business or pleasure.

The Bach actually has fond memories for me because that’s where the editor of the Courier took me to lunch when he took over the role. I thought I was going to be fired from writing this column and I could barely focus on the food until I realized I was in the clear. To this day, I cannot sit at this same table without remembering my
knees knocking together in filthiness.

More from inside the Bach.

No such problem arose this time around when I was happy to see my friend and esteemed Dundee musical virtuoso Andrew Wasylyk at a nearby table, also having lunch solo. It was a good sign because Andrew travels a lot and he knows his Roscoff onions from his shallots.

Ever curious, and also aware that even I could only consume a limited amount of food from The Bach in a day, I asked Andrew what he had eaten and he said his Vegetarian Breakfast Bich Of The Bach (£12) had been excellent.
It must be the football that keeps Andrew whippet slim because this monster breakfast was formed from veggie beams – Bach beans, roasted tomato, mushroom, veggie haggis, hash browns, grilled halloumi, potato scone, two organic free-range eggs, toast and jam .


The food

In the interest of this column, and partly out of a craving for food from a nearby table, I did however order two breakfasts, and both were excellent.

The corn fritters (£7.50) included fresh herbs and were light and delicious. Served with homemade Bach chipotle chili jam and lemon crème fraîche, even my gym trainer could be convinced they see them as health food.

Bach Beans.

My second breakfast dish of Bach Beans (£5) is a classic, one I’ve eaten here often and also made at home. Chickpeas and baked beans are anointed in a rich sauce anchored by the deep buzz of smoked paprika – a dark, dense smoky delight, and a bargain, as they come on good toast.

The coffee, as you would expect, is excellent.

There’s a lot to be said for the praise for this menu, not the least of which is that it avoids a lot of the clichés that, for me, instantly turn off. For example, I would be very, very happy never to see another candy haggis for as long as I live – and luckily the Bach avoids that horror.

Here, traditional classics are joined by new ones like hash on toast (£8.50), hash with ham (£10) and crispy chicken bao buns (£7.50).

All excellent, homemade dishes served with care. That’s all you want, really.

Another popular breakfast option.

Incidentally, the hash on toast served here is topped with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, and is touted as a Kiwi favourite. But you might also want to try making Fergus Henderson’s classic version of The Book of St John – here, gently simmered beef hash is ladled over crunchy dripping toast in a celebration of the beef flavors that also includes copious amounts of red wine, dripping beef, rolled oats, and horseradish.

While you enjoy these riffs on a Scottish classic, whether at home or in The Bach, don’t have too much fun without me.

A short trip to the gym as a pre-penance, and I was back at the Bach for lunch.

This time the place was quite full, and for this reason I would recommend booking if you can.

They do accept walk-ins, but if you’re able to plan ahead, it’s a very popular place, so reservations would be best.

There were so many things that appealed to me for lunch including the intriguingly named Cabbie burger (£11.50) and the Daddy-O bagel (£7). But really, nothing could tear me away from the chicken roti (£8.50).

Sitting upstairs, with the sun streaming through the windows, it was hard not to feel euphoric even at the thought of the next mix of great flavors and textures – breaded chicken, Bach coleslaw, cucumber, peppers , satay sauce, chilli, coriander and peanuts, served in a flaky roti canai.

Roast chicken.

If reading about these carrier flavors makes you want to go online and book a vacation, imagine what it was like to eat them? A simple and delicious happiness.

I drank a chipotle ginger kombucha with my lunch (£3) but had I taken the bus home I would certainly have been tempted by the very good drink list. The wine list featured some unusual bottles and was priced at £20, which is very reasonable, but it’s the excellent list of beers, ciders and cocktails that will likely prove even more tempting on future visits .

I look forward to when the bar will be used as a complementary space to investigate the enterprising drink list.


The verdict

The Bach is exactly what is needed in Dundee and I can’t really praise it enough.

Like all hospitality industries, this place has been hit hard by the pandemic and so their ambitious plans had to be put on hold somewhat. But not only did they survive, they maintained their standards. It’s wonderful.

It’s a big space and it feels like the owners Steve and Wendy have big ideas. It’s people like these who will get things done in Dundee – new ideas and a new outward approach. I look forward to dining at Bach and drinking at the bar, two changes that I believe are imminent.

I also can’t wait for the menu to evolve and adapt as we embrace warmer weather.
It’s the highest praise when I say this place could stand against any similar business in any urban space in the world. The fact that it is now right in the middle of Dundee is really something we should celebrate. Well done Bach!


Information

Address: The Bach, 31 Meadowside, Dundee, DD1 1DJ

W: www.the-bach.com (online booking preferable to booking by phone)

Price: Mains from £3.50, but medium main around £8.50

Scoring:

  • Food: 5/5
  • Performance: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 5/5

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[Symphony of culinary delights at The Bach in Dundee]

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