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29th July 2019 Lorraine Flood

Eating out in Dundee, Angus and Perthshire

Food can only be as good as its ingredients and luckily, when eating out in Perthshire, Dundee and Angus, the local natural larder provides chefs with everything they need to present world-class food. Whether it’s fine dining or cosy tea rooms, cuisines from around the world or just a basic well-made burger and chips, there’s an incredible choice of freshly-made food, served in style.

Fine dining

Fine dining is a feature of the area with the spectacular Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, which has held on to is two Michelin star status for several years now. Intimate and friendly, it is the perfect destination for a special occasion. Fine dining on a slightly more restricted budget can be had at Yann’s on Perth Road, Crieff. The traditional house has been converted into the restaurant that is just grand enough to get all dressed up.

The city of Perth itself has long been renowned as a location where chefs know discerning palates will appreciate the chance to sample imaginative food. Located on the South Inch, the Parklands Hotel has 63@Parklands. Instead of bamboozling diners with lengthy menus, it offers a simple format, which also means the price is incredibly good value. There are two starters, an intermediate, two mains, cheese and two desserts. On the North Port is the suitably-named North Port restaurant. The traditional and cosy interior is the place for modern food, beautifully presented and all sourced from local producers, suppliers, and foragers. It’s the place for real food lovers who fancy a leisurely lunch, a perfect pre-theatre or a dinner to be savoured.

Fine dining dish

Eat like royalty at one of the area’s multiple fine dining venues

Sometimes, however, nothing hits the spot more than being able to keep the jeans on and order a decent beer with some hearty fare – this abounds in Perthshire. In Pitlochry, you’ll find it at The Moulin Inn & Brewery, which was a pioneer in the micro-brewery movement in Scotland. In fact, it was a pioneer in more ways than one, opening its doors for the first time in 1695. On Kirkmichael Road, the traditional building is easily found and although beer is still highly prized and cherished here, the food is on an equal standing and elevates pub food to the gastropub level.

Over in Alyth, locals won’t thank us for recommending the Losset Inn – everyone always wants a table! This gem near the town square serves some of the best thin crust pizza you’ll find outside Italy. With pizza and bread dough made daily, along with other freshly-made meals, this isn’t fast turnaround pub grub but tremendous value. Evening meals are served every day so work up an appetite exploring the Den o’ Alyth and pop into the Losset.

The city of Perth itself has long been renowned as a location where chefs know discerning palates will appreciate the chance to sample imaginative food

The Carse of Gowrie

The Carse of Gowrie has long been known as a fertile area for growing soft fruits, something that the Cairn O’ Mohr winery near Errol has seized with both hands to turn into refreshing fruit wines. It also offers the AliBob Café with light meals and soups with cakes, scones and pastries to follow. Winery tours run regularly on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from April to October but can be arranged for a large enough group at other times.

The villages which line this 20-mile stretch between Perth and Dundee are beginning to offer increasingly good food. Along the Carse in Dundee itself, there has been something of a foodie revolution over the past couple of years. It seems hotels, bars, and restaurants claimed their places before the V&A at Dundee opened in September 2018 and the Waterfront development makes the city a fresh new tourist attraction.

Pizza oven

Enjoy traditional fresh pizzas, there is no shortage of fantastic Italian food here

From the Italian Grill in the City Square offering simple Mediterranean dishes, to the Manchurian on Gellatly Street – an authentic Chinese restaurant specialising in dim sum and located above the city’s Asian supermarket – there has been a global invasion of cuisine. Perhaps one of the most population additions has been Project Pizza, a casual restaurant that allows diners to make up their own pizzas as they move along the line. Its new neighbour is German Doner Kebab, offering comfortable surroundings for a range of meat or vegetable and bread based dishes. This isn’t the kebab shop to seek out after a night in the pub but great quality filling European food.

Still on the Continent, two popular Italian restaurants sit side by side on Whitehall Street, Mozza for great pizza and Tony Macaroni for everything Italiano. There’s even a taste of the Caribbean in Dundee now, with the Gidi Grill at City Quay getting great reviews for its authentic cuisine and laidback atmosphere.

The villages which line this 20-mile stretch between Perth and Dundee are beginning to offer increasingly good food

Foodie favourites

For casual lunches, head to the Flame Tree Café in Exchange Street or The Bach in Albert Square, both with great vegan options. Castlehill in Exchange Street was perhaps the first to make a huge impression on the Dundee dining scene and it still does, even though the fine dining scene has expanded along with all other types of eatery in the city.

The Tayberry, located in Broughty Ferry is around 10 minutes’ by taxi from the city centre, while Malmaison has also added to the more formal dining scene with The Brasserie. For the best view from any Dundee restaurant, have a light lunch or coffee at the Top of the Tower, Dundee University’s cafe You can’t miss the tower building on the Nethergate. Just go into the university foyer and take the lift to the 10th floor to enjoy Fairtrade drink and food – and that incredible view across the city and the river.

Finding breakfast in Dundee is also mouth-wateringly easy. The Pancake Place in Reform Street has been serving exactly that for more than 30 years now, while newer kids on the block such as Folk Café in Nethergate offers an extensive breakfast menu with some healthy options but also a French Toast breakfast with fruit for health or crispy bacon and maple syrup for sheer indulgence.

Heading west from Nethergate, the Perth Road has long been a foodie destination and now, among coffee shops, noodle bars and Italian restaurants, offers the best choice of Indian food in the city. The Balaka is perhaps the most traditional. For those who would rather have no surprises with their choice, this is the place where the food is well-cooked and familiar.

Further up the road is the Dil’ Se. While it’s not quite fine dining, the menu certainly offers a wider range of dishes in a more contemporary and modern atmosphere. The portions are far from nouvelle cuisine though – arrive hungry!

For casual lunches, head to the Flame Tree Café in Exchange Street or The Bach in Albert Square, both with great vegan options

Exotic eats

There is a legendary restaurant on the Perth Road, however. The Agacan has been serving locals traditional Turkish kebab meals since 1982 and has changed little since then. A colourful exterior matches the interior, and with simple meats, rice, vegetables and breads on offer, locals would kick up a fuss if the menu ever changed. It has a superb atmosphere and excellent food that shows there has always been good food in Dundee – if you knew where to look.

A welcome addition to the Perth Road is Café Monmartre, bringing a little touch of Dijon to Dundee with well-priced French food in remarkable authentic surroundings. On the Nethergate, close to the city centre, the Tailend has added high-end fish and chips to the city’s offering, too. Those with a more exotic palate can visit Oshibori on the same stretch of road for excellent sushi and sashimi.

Turkish dish

Why not try something new whilst you’re in Dundee

Broughty Ferry also has much to offer, with excellent tapas at Sol y Sombra in Gray Street, wonderful pizzas at Visocchi’s on the same stretch and, of course, being at the seaside some wonderful fish and chips to take away from a range of family-run shops or enjoy from the comfort of The Ship Inn.

The Angus coastal towns also offer superb fish, of course, and nowhere more than Arbroath with its famous smokie, a piece of smoked haddock. Smokies actually originated a few miles north of Arbroath in the tiny fishing village of Auchmithie, where the fishwives smoked the fish in half barrels and trapped the smoke under layers of hessian sacking. So it’s only right that The But n Ben, a restaurant there, finds new ways to feature it on the menu, including the delicious smokie pancake. The small restaurant has a wide menu and is unashamedly traditional, even offering an old-fashioned dessert trolley when it comes to something sweet.

The Agacan has been serving locals traditional Turkish kebab meals since 1982 and has changed little since then

Fresh seafood and steak

But back in Arbroath, in Ladybridge Street, the link to fishing is strong and, at The Harbourside Grill, seafood sits alongside steak as the main attraction. With a special dish of three different types of fish fillet served with vegetables, this is a chance to expand your fishy horizons from the usual haddock or cod. The interior has a coastal feel and uses vintage fishing paraphernalia to decorate the dining areas, and yes, you can have an Arbroath smokie.

The other Angus speciality is the famous Forfar bridie. Similar to a Cornish pasty, this is shortcrust pastry around a meat and vegetable filling. The best known in the town (and certainly the largest) come from Saddler’s of Forfar on East High Street. It’s more of a takeaway food and is yet to find its way on to a restaurant menu, but Forfar itself is well-served for traditional restaurants as well as a selection of Chinese, Indian and Turkish.

Salmon dish

Make sure you try some delicious fresh salmon and local seafood on your trip

Like Perthshire, Angus has a wide choice of country inns which have retained their character but still offer a great drop-in spot for lunch or dinner for locals escaping the kitchen or visitors exploring the area. The Drovers at Memus, near Forfar, is a popular day trip destination. It offers superb surroundings and local ingredients speaking for themselves in simply prepared dishes that touch on fine dining.

The Strathmore Arms, near Glamis, is another great example. There’s a formal dining room and space to eat in the bar, with traditional steak pie alongside more sophisticated meat and fish dishes, with some imaginative choices for vegetarians. A lighter lunch option, north of Alyth, is Peel Farm. More of a farmhouse kitchen, it’s popular with cyclists refuelling on cake, or friends heading out to have a simple lunch and perhaps take some cake back for later. There’s also a gift shop to browse.

Back in Arbroath, in Ladybridge Street, the link to fishing is strong and, at The Harbourside Grill, seafood sits alongside steak as the main attraction

Timeless classics

Another legendary name in the area is the Craigton Coach Inn at Monikie. Close enough to the border with Dundee to attract diners from both areas, it has a solid reputation for friendly service and great value lunches and evening meals. The children’s menus are as carefully crafted, with no afterthought dishes designed to simply keep them quiet. These also keep them healthy.

Visitors to the gorgeous Lunan Bay beach need not worry if they forget to bring sandwiches. The Lunan Farm Shop and Cafe uses local ingredients in imaginative ways and for early risers there are also full breakfasts (with a vegetarian option) and lighter breakfast choices. Don’t worry – you’ll work it off climbing Lunan’s sand dunes.

Further north in Montrose, The Pavilion offers freshly-made and imaginative food in the unusual surroundings of a former bowling pavilion. Everything from Vietnamese bánh mì to home-made soda bread. Heading inland but beside Lintrathen loch, the Wee Bear Café has arrived at Lodge at Lochside. This has authentic rustic charm and is perfect for an autumnal day out with its woodstove, home cooking and baking, and views out to the misty loch.

It’s always best to finish a meal with something sweet and Angus offers excellent choices. Either head to Kirriemuir, where the Visocchi family set up their first Italian cafe and gelateria – it is still there and serves superb ice-cream. The Peter Pan is a lovely blend of pineapple and marshmallow.

Over in Arbroath, the West Port is the location of Vin-Tealicious, a traditional tea room with something of a twist. It offers afternoon teas, piled high with cakes, scones and delicate sandwiches, but also more exotic lunches – and to accompany them all, teas from around the globe. The presentation is cosy, relaxed, and friendly, which sums up the area nicely.

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Image credits: ©Alex Munsell/Unsplash; Brenna Huff/Carissa Gan/Edgar Castrejon/Priscilla Du Preez/Suad Kamardeen/Travis Yewell/Wouter Meijering/Unsplash

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