63 Tay Street is one of the few restaurants with all the basics and you have no idea how happy it is to point it out as we crawl towards the end of a hectic year.
It was interesting, to say the least.
Reviewing restaurants in 2021 has obviously been a bigger task than before the pandemic due to the current precarious situation in which the hospitality industry finds itself.
The double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit has dealt a fatal blow to a sector heavily dependent on stable activity, disposable income and a workforce often coming from outside the UK. United. This is before we got to serious problems in the food supply chain that resulted in empty shelves and a shortage of certain ingredients for consumers and professional chefs.
The personnel crisis that Brexit brought about would have been catastrophic even without a global pandemic to compound the scale of the problem. The combination of the two sounded a warning to many chefs and restaurant workers, who either decided to leave the industry or were forced to return to their home countries.
This warning bell rang louder for some who unfortunately witnessed it as the death knell for their business.
Restaurants that managed to keep trading now inevitably open more limited days and hours.
Many still can’t afford to open until a Wednesday, which must be a heartbreaking decision to make. Staff shortages are just one of the many issues facing this beleaguered industry today, but staffing remains intrinsic to the entire restaurant experience, and we, the customers, have rightly had to do concessions, including being patient with new, inexperienced staff.
In many cases, it’s not even about getting the best staff – it’s about getting any staff. This has led to a fundamental shift in what we expect from the service industry, where a good, well-trained kitchen staff is now the exception rather than the rule.
Our expectations of what we hoped for from the restaurant experience had to be changed.
As we came back from lockdown and once again remembered the thrill of dining out, it seemed like our entire restaurant judgment system would have to change. After all, it would be unfair to think of a small, neighborhood place the same as a large London restaurant, although the holy trinity of food, service and decor can still be paramount to a good night out.
As we progressed through the year it became clear that some places just aren’t good and some chefs just can’t cut it – it probably would be, that we were living in this new one. world or not.
Tay Street 63
So when somewhere like 63 Tay Street shines like the absolute beacon, it really must be celebrated for all they offer during very tough trading times.
The first thing to say is that the lunch we had here was a good deal, so much so that I would have happily paid a lot more.
The ‘4 for 24’ offer means you get four courses of premium food for £ 24.
It’s a real bargain for food of this high standard (check their website for times, but this menu is currently served for lunch Thursday through Saturday and for dinner Wednesday and Thursday).
I urge you to go before chef and owner Graham Pallister realizes he’s almost giving this food away right now.
It was my first time here, although 63 Tay Street is nothing new and has won several awards including twice Scottish Restaurant of the Year and this magazine’s award for Restaurant of the Year in 2019. Graham himself won the Scottish Chef of the Year award in 2013.
I’ve never had a bad meal in beautiful Perth and just wish there was enough time to revisit other great places like the North Port (the first restaurant reviewed here after the lockdown) and Cardo .
63 Tay Street is now added to the list of places to return as soon as possible.
The restaurant itself is simple and understated with decor that doesn’t cry out for attention. It’s all about the food and the service here, both of which are excellent.
We were greeted by the gracious and extremely professional restaurant manager, Christopher Strachan, who explained that there was no written menu and verified that we were happy with the idea of a surprise. Of course we were!
I love restaurants that have a very concise menu that simply offers good food. One of my favorite restaurants, Clarke’s in Kensington, brought the Californian idea of a no-choice menu changing every week to London in 1987 and it became an instant hit.
The idea of the season’s freshest ingredients being served because Sally Clarke picked them as the best things to cook that week was revealing in a London food scene fueled by pretension.
Thirty-five years after my first visit, I recently returned to Clarke for my first Christmas lunch in 2021 and it still operates with the same philosophy, although it now gives customers choice.
I remembered Clarke’s when the set menu items started appearing at 63 Tay Street, where the philosophy is “Local.” Honest. Simple. ”While I think those words sum up much of what’s on offer here, they also don’t give an indication of the brilliance of Graham Pallister’s cooking.
Everything I ate was delicious, starting with the superlative butternut squash soup with black garlic and the parmesan cream with pine nut relish.
I don’t often order soup in restaurants as it can sometimes suppress the appetite but here the nectar on offer was absolutely perfect – a combination of flavors as intense as you could possibly want and at the same time an illustration that you are here in the hands of a master.
The next dish of Gloagburn’s poached egg, smoked salmon, cauliflower butter and onion bhaji was equally divine, made all the more alluring with the bhaji’s surprise.
Everything worked wonderfully.
The smoked beef shoulder steak was my favorite, the tenderness of the meat perfectly complemented by pearl barley shio koji, garden onion (Graham grows things by the side of the road on Moncreiffe Island) and a horseradish gel. An absolute masterclass in beef cooking and a pleasure to eat.
Shio koji barley, a fermented cereal, was particularly inspired.
The meal ended with a warm almond financier accompanied by poached pear from Ailsa’s garden and chocolate ice cream – as harmonious and wonderful as the dishes that came before it.
I had eaten four courses of exceptional food and, exceptionally, David too.
Regular readers will know that it has become kind of a scarecrow to us that vegetarians and vegans are so poorly catered for in this part of Scotland.
This is confirmed by the correspondence I receive whenever I point it out – vegetarians are so sick of being offered bland foods like generic gnocchi, now as much a restaurant cliché as they are roasted nuts.
Here, it’s a whole different story as David received four dishes of the same standard as mine (the restaurant makes a point of asking customers to inform them in advance of any dietary requests so that they can prepare).
While some of my exemplary dishes were reflected on the vegetarian menu (soup and dessert were the same) David’s poached egg came with lentils curry and this carnivore has to say it was just as delicious as my dish with smoked salmon.
David’s main course, an onion and pepper pie, was served with the same fermented barley as my beef, but was also topped with roasted cauliflower and a delicious miso apple yogurt. It was a real treat and I would be very, very happy to eat that
Finally, here is someone who thinks as much about vegetarian food as their main menu. Top stuff.
It should be noted here that Chef-Boss Graham was the only person cooking in his kitchen on the day of our visit and yet the food arrived without a hitch.
The service was excellent – friendly, knowledgeable and proud of what they offered, as they should be because this place has it all.
63 Tay Street is such a delight.
When I visit restaurants as regularly as I do, it can be frustrating at times as there is often something wrong that could easily be fixed.
There is nothing to improve here except perhaps bringing it closer to my home.
Normally the cost of bringing together such perfection is reflected in the price, which is obviously fair enough – it costs money to open your doors and provide food and service.
Here at 63 Tay Street, it’s a joy to have food of this quality at a price far below what could be charged.
Graham Pallister is to be commended for doing this at a time when many, many others are increasing their prices to reflect rising costs.
As 2021 draws to a close, it’s wonderful to find a place like 63 Tay Street where there is no ifs and buts – it’s just great.
Address: 63 Tay Street, 63 Tay Street, Perth, PH2 8NN
Phone. : 01738 441451
Prices: ‘4 for 24’ menu at £ 24 per person (check website for days and times); ‘Just Feed Us’ menu, five course for £ 49, six course for £ 58 (check website for details)
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5