This week Murray Chalmers is reviewing an old favorite in Dundee and venturing into the capital to sample something new.
A friend from the music industry from London came to visit us last week and I gave him some tips on where to eat in Dundee.
When we first met at the nicely sleazy bar at Malmaison, I couldn’t wait to find out which of my suggestions worked the best.
Let’s face it, everyone loves being a tour guide for their city, and I was hoping that at least one of my recommendations had caught on.
In the end, it was a sobering moment because, after renting the Friday night curry at the excellent Dil’se, my friend went through a list of disappointments.
These ranged from the brunch venue that didn’t do brunch, to the restaurant that charged London prices for basic and unspectacular dishes, and to the cafe advertised online as open but remained very closed.
Pillars of trust
No wonder Dundee trusted stalwarts like Fisher and Donaldson are doing so well.
The day they close (I pray this never happens) will be Dundee’s equivalent of the crows leaving the Tower of London – although I can certainly face the downfall of the Crown and the UK a lot more easily than I could miss a fudge donut or a lemon swish on a miserable Monday.
It’s a standard excuse these days to say that the problems leading to sudden shutdowns are linked to Brexit and Covid, and there is certainly no escape from the fact that the two man-made disasters have decimated the hospitality industry – and also raised prices.
But the truth is, some of these hideous situations are compounded by an apparent disregard for customer needs – not least that we like to find a restaurant open when it’s advertised as such.
It’s remarkable how difficult it is to get basic information on some restaurant websites and social media pages, and how some establishments believe that a hastily scribbled note on a closed door can replace an online update.
Four things i want to see
When I search for a restaurant online, I want to see four things: menu, address, phone number, and hours of operation.
I need to see this before I go through some nonsense screeds on how the restaurant got its name, how Michael the Kitchen Clerk adapted his grandmother’s soup recipe, or what design graduate crafted. soap dispensers in the toilets.
Based purely on their food offerings and ambiance, my list of reliable places to dine in Dundee includes just three places – the unrivaled Tayberry (actually at Broughty Ferry), Franks for a good bowl of pasta and Dil’se. for a curry.
If I hadn’t tried to keep things concise, my list would also have included Collinsons (also at Broughty Ferry), Rama for good Thai food, and Tailend for decent fish and chips.
That’s not much for a city the size of Dundee – and, in truth, some of the above probably wouldn’t even hit the mark in other cities with a more vibrant food scene and more competition.
While remaining extremely proud of some of Dundee’s offerings, I have to say that restaurant food is not the city’s main asset at the moment.
In fact, Dundee not only lags behind the obvious big hitters like Edinburgh and Glasgow, but also Aberdeen and much smaller towns like Perth. It hurts me to be a negative Nellie about it, but it’s true.
However, there is one special restaurant in Dundee that feels metropolitan, energized, glamorous, modern and cohesive – so much a part of my life that when I compiled the recommendations for my friend, I forgot to mention it.
Jute and Dundee Contemporary Arts itself are the only places in Dundee where you feel the buzz of being alive as soon as you walk through the door.
When I returned to Tayside after 40 years in London, I can honestly say that DCA was like a middle ground between my old frenzied life and the more studied and focused dreams of my new one.
As such, he was and remains a beacon of individuality in Dundee.
Jute cuisine consists of good, simple brasserie-style dishes, and there is always something to eat. This time we had dinner a few days after their party menu was introduced, so I chose three courses from these (£ 27.50).
I started with a pear, strathdon blue and walnut pie, served with a celeriac and beetroot remoulade.
The pie filling was well balanced and tasty which was a shame as the pie itself was too small, more like the size of a couch. I would suggest making it a bit bigger and also this particular pie base was underbaked – but delicious nonetheless.
David’s starter, from a particularly good vegetarian selection, was sesame-spiced broccoli and cauliflower popcorn with mayo (£ 6.25), which he called excellent.
Her main course of piri-piri honey-fried halloumi skewers with roasted garlic aioli (£ 7.95) was good, hearty vegetarian fare.
My braised beef feather, melted potato, red cabbage, and cereal mustard was just what you want on a frosty December night – the cut of braised beef shoulder in a rich, creamy and gelatinous stew that wouldn’t could be improved with a little more sauce.
We shared a sticky caramel apple pudding with English sauce and vanilla ice cream, which we both found to be a bit mushy in texture, with the ice cream displaying a strange cloying elasticity.
The service was as brilliant as ever; I come here often enough to know that our server, Will, would make an excellent butler in a more formal restaurant, and it’s a shame there aren’t more people of his caliber in Dundee.
The room – good lighting, exposed ventilation ducts, and well-spaced tables – is effortlessly glamorous.
The total bill was £ 63 including a bottle of wine, which is excellent value for money for good food in this creative and lively room, which is so much part of the fabric of the new Dundee.
Address: Jute DCA 152 Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4DY
Phone. : 01382 909246
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5
Price: Appetizers from £ 4.75, main courses from £ 8.95 and dessert from £ 5.95
The heron is “remarkable”
If Jute is a laid back brasserie dining room, then a recent trip to Edinburgh revealed a wonderful new addition to the capital’s fine dining sector.
Heron opened in July in an attractive space overlooking the Water of Leith, and I can already say it joins my list of favorite Edinburgh restaurants: Timberyard, the Palmerston, Fhior and The Little Chartroom.
Heron is that remarkable thing – a fine dining restaurant that feels confident enough to let the food speak for itself.
As beautiful as the room with the high ceilings is and amazing the staff, this is not about the overt brilliance of some of Edinburgh’s most established names – here the simple menu belies the consummate skills of the chef / owner Tomás Gormley and Sam Yorke, whose pedigree ranges from restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Gleneagles to Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage in the capital.
All we ate at Heron in Edinburgh was an ace, from oyster Cumbrae with ponzu, cucumber and wasabi (£ 3) to Belhaven crab pie with cucumber and fermented radish (£ 5), to the beef tongue crumpet (£ 12) – an intense delight and decadent of crumpet, butter, beef tongue, red wine, rarebit, mizuna and pickled red onion.
Even more earthy decadence was available in the form of fall truffles, a treat I reluctantly decided to forgo because each dish had been so elegantly crafted and balanced that I didn’t want the carnal fruitfulness of the truffle. submerged.
My main course of partridge coated in kombu, sage and pumpkin seed breadcrumbs (£ 27) was served with pumpkin puree, black garlic and a side – or, as the waiter said. charmingly described, a satellite – of a brioche filled with partridge parfait with liver, sprinkled with bacon and thyme.
And yes, it was absolutely as divine as it sounds – one of the best food I’ve eaten all year, in fact.
Speaking of plates, it seemed to me that a lot or maybe all of the dishes we ate in were prepared by this brilliant ceramist Borja Moronta, whose work sells out as soon as it is available.
That a restaurant like Heron cares so much about aesthetics doesn’t surprise me – everything here is exquisitely done – but it was still a pleasure to see beautiful food presented with such care.
Food and wine pairings have been brilliantly managed by General Manager and Sommelier Glen Montgomery.
The dessert, described on the menu as white chocolate, pistachio and blackcurrant (£ 9), was more than the sum of its parts and presented so elegantly it seemed somewhat destructive to step into it.
I loved this place and highly recommend it for your next trip to Edinburgh. The kind of food served here is exactly what I love: brilliantly sourced seasonal ingredients, cooked with precision and presented so perfectly that you can only marvel at the craftsmanship and artistry at work here.
A recent report by Time Out magazine ranked Leith as the 4th coolest neighborhood in the world. Whether you agree with that or not, I have to say Heron just made it a lot cooler.
It is vital that we support all of the local businesses in Tayside, but the next time you complain about dining in Dundee, remember that Edinburgh’s wealth of world-class restaurants are only one step away. hour drive.
Heron is definitely one of the best. Chiefs of Dundee – take note!
Address: Heron, 87 / 91A Henderson Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6ED
Phone. : 0131 554 1242
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5
Price: Snacks from £ 3, entrees from £ 10, main courses from £ 25 and desserts £ 9