Dundee foodie guide: where to eat and drink
Food writer Sophie Pither shares her insider tips for where to eat and drink in the Scottish city while visiting the V&A design museum, from brunch to fish and chips and craft beer
Looking for Dundee restaurants? Here are the best places to eat in Dundee.
The opening of the £80-million, ship-like V&A Dundee design museum has drawn worldwide attention to Scotland's fourth largest city. Architect Kengo Kuma’s jaggedly slanting structure, inspired by Scottish cliffs, has brought an excitement and confidence to the city; its serene oak-lined interior offers glimpses of the glinting Tay river through glass slats. The V&A Dundee and the waterfront development around it are set to entice a new city-break crowd and restaurateurs are already feeling the thrill, with new places opening and old ones gearing up. Here are some of the best of them...
Best fine dining restaurants in Dundee
In pretty Broughty Ferry, a former fishing village that’s now a suburb of Dundee, The Tayberry is set in an unassuming building behind a sandy beach at the mouth of the Tay. Chef Adam Newth set up here in 2015 and has a loyal following of both locals and food lovers from further afield.
Adam describes his cooking as ‘modern fine dining with a homely kind of feel to it’. You don’t get away with being pretentious in Tayside, and he’s aware of that, using excellent Scottish produce with a flourish of creativity. Current highlights are an amuse bouche of celeriac and fennel velouté with pickled mushrooms – a smooth, creamy piping-hot soup with a delicious mushroom tang and aniseed undertone. Another favourite on the autumn menu is a generous starter of 12-hour confit pork cheek with sweet onion risotto and red wine jus, with perfect sweet-soft pork. The restaurant’s namesake, the tayberry – like a black raspberry – pops up in puds as a signature tayberry sorbet. Food is well-priced (£28 for two courses, £36 for three, plus tasting menu options) and there’s a good wine list, too.
Chef Jamie Scott has made a great success of his first solo restaurant, which he opened in 2016 after winning 2014’s MasterChef Professionals. The Newport’s winning location, overlooking the river at Newport-on-Tay, is a seven-minute drive over the Tay Bridge from Dundee centre. The restaurant is almost always full and features mains like local pheasant with parsnip and truffle potato, or St Andrews lobster with sea herbs and wild garlic, plus fun appetisers like crab tacos.
The draws are sensible pricing and consistently good food. Jamie knows his audience. This is for people who want effort but not food so fancy or expensive that it’s off-putting. That said, I'd describe it as fine dining and reasonably MasterCheffy. There are three six-course taster menus – veggie, fishy, or omni – plus a popular Sunday lunch. There are also four large double rooms if you’d rather stay over.
Best cafes in Dundee
This dedicated breakfast and brunch spot (open 9am-5pm) is an easy-going kind of place with wooden tables and large shop-front windows to watch the world pass by. The breakfast menu is a winner for those of us who are always disappointed to arrive somewhere for lunch to find they’ve stopped serving eggs benedict at 11.30. Big plates arrive packed with Full Scottish Breakfast classics alongside tasty sourdough toast, fresh juice and rich smooth coffees, for which you can choose your blend. Alternatively, go sweet with waffles or pancakes, or choose a big fat savoury hash-brown stack, with poached egg, spinach and mushrooms.
This relaxed neighbourhood café serves hearty modern food for breakfast and lunch and does the occasional pop-up evening, too. A tasty-looking Libyan food event was on offer when we visited. Breakfast specials could be shakshuka baked Turkish eggs, and lunch might be a hard choice between an Arbroath smokie and spring greens frittata, an excellent panzanella or a bowlful of deli salads. There are also interesting homemade sandwiches and soups, and cakes out on display to tempt you.
58 West Port (Unit 9), 01382 203588; Facebook
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Tatha Bar and Kitchen at V&A Dundee
First off, it’s pronounced Tayva, which is Gaelic for Tay. This is the main restaurant at the V&A Dundee design museum - the reason for all that new Dundee buzz - which architect Kengo Kuma hopes it will be “a living room for the city”. The restaurant is at the heart of the building on the mezzanine level, with an expansive view over the water. It’s also exposed to the huge atrium, not tucked away in a basement as with so many gallery cafes.
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Food is a crowd-pleasing daytime mix of seasonal salads and sandwiches, scones and cakes, but it’s also open in the evenings (Thursdays to Sundays from 27 September), via a separate entrance once the gallery itself has closed for the day. Evening dishes go one notch less casual, with main courses such as chargrilled Puddledub farm buffalo steak, or Dundee gin and marmalade cured Perthshire smoked salmon. It’s also hoping to cultivate an after-work drinks scene by offering cocktails, wine, beer and light bites. There’s also a smaller coffee bar on the V&A’s ground floor.
This charming small modern-art gallery is also home to a popular tapas restaurant (open daily for lunch and dinner). Dundee has always had an artistic angle, being well served by galleries, and, with the new V&A, this aspect of it should flourish further. You can get straight to the heart of the cultural scene at Gallery 48, a lovely mix of forward-thinking art, workshops and great food. On the menu you’ll find tapas favourites such as white anchovies and Spanish tortilla, plus specialities like Ventresca tuna belly, olive tapenade and artichoke, or salted cod fritters with house aioli. All can be accompanied by a wide choice of Spanish wines, or an impressive selection of local gins.
Everyone loves a classy fish-and-chip joint, where you can enjoy a sit-down supper complete with a mug of tea, bottle of beer or even a cocktail. This one comes with excellent pedigree, as it’s run by Arbroath-based fish merchant G&A Spink (which carefully sources all catches from MSC-registered boats fishing in the North Sea, landed on the east coast). Specials are adapted to the catch, and menu dishes (other than delicious soft-fleshed haddock and chips with homemade tartar sauce) include scallops with haggis, carrot puree and garlic butter, and red Thai seafood curry with coconut rice. The restaurant is in an attractive, purpose-renovated 54-seat cellar-space, completed as a labour of love by the owners.
The best bars in Dundee
This 1920s speakeasy-style bar is supposed to be a secret, sort of. For those not in the know, the unmarked door is down an alley called Couttie’s Wynd (between 36 and 38 Nethergate) in the city centre, from where you’ll hear live jazz wafting up from the basement of the long-closed Draffens department store. It serves great cocktails in a stylised Twenties jazz bar, which together with the secret-club vibe make this a fun place to while away the night until the early hours.
Innis and Gunn’s Beer Kitchen
The successful Scottish beer company offers a Brew School experience. Create your own beer using a new bit of brewing kit, The Grain Father; beer masters will coach you through the basics, offering tips on styles and flavour profiles, and teach you all the know-how you need. You also get to take home a five-litre mini keg of your own beer. The one-day session includes bacon rolls and coffee on arrival, plus a light lunch as you brew.
The best food and drink shops in Dundee
For all your Scottish, British and international cheese needs, head to this specialist cheese shop. All the European classics are available, from top-quality parmesan to tomme de savoie but if you’re looking for something more local, ask for the St Andrews Farmhouse Anster (a creamy, crumbly farmhouse cheese made just south, in Fife, using milk from a single herd of Holstein Friesian cows) or the Gruth Dhu (Black Crowdie), a soft cow’s milk cheese made up in Tain).
Head 10 miles north of Dundee and you’ll find Ogilvy Vodka, Scotland’s first potato vodka distillery run by husband-and-wife team Graeme and Caroline Jarron. The distillery has been producing vodka since 2014 as a way to make the most of misshapen spuds, and now you can explore it via a field-to-bottle experience.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at potato farming (from the way fields are ploughed to how the potatoes are minced) before a walk-through of the cooking, fermenting and distilling process. The 85-minute tour ends with a tasting and, if you fancy stocking up on more, the shop sells all the bottles, from classic to bramble and rhubarb.
The best places to stay in Dundee
New central kid on the block, Hotel Indigo, is housed in a renovated former jute mill with a landmark bell tower and retains industrial touches such as original wooden floors and exposed brickwork. It has also added nods to local history from The Beano to the video game industry.
Daisy Tasker (the hotel’s restaurant with Masterchef semi-finalist Stewart Macaulay at its helm), named after a 14-year old weaver who organised social activities for the jute mill works, is worth a visit, with a daily-changing menu serving dishes inspired by Dundee.
Expect a contemporary spin on Scottish classics including Schiehallion battered haddock with chips and peas pickled, hake with beetroot and potato purée, and to finish, marmalade set cream and Dundee sticky pudding served with toffee sauce and clotted cream ice cream.
The Newport restaurant has four smart double-room suites; ask for one of the ones that overlook the water for the best views.
By Sophie Pither