Dundee has changed a lot since our last visit, and it’s not just the exciting addition of a brand-new design museum, the V&A Dundee. The train station, too, was almost unrecognisable as we exited it for a long overdue foray into the city.
It didn’t take long to reach our destination. Brasserie Ecosse can be found at the back of the Caird Hall, where such luminaries as David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead and Joy Division have all performed. It’s a mere five-minute walk from therail way station; if you’re coming by bus it’s an equally short walk in the opposite direction.
This modern brasserie is all about French fine dining, but with Scottish provenance and an Asian twist. It’s immediately inviting, and actually quite posh. Up the back there’s a champagne bar, but I was happier with a lager. The beer list features brewsfrom Dundee’s 71 Brewing and Aberdeen’s Six Degrees North. I ordered the latter’s Peloton pilsner, which was full of flavour and a pretty fine example of a pilsbrewed on these shores.
For contrast we also tried something a bit more exotic: a Pink Margarita. Rather than being served in the traditional margarita glass, this was brought in a miniature Patron bottle. The sweet but boozy concoction is a mix of Patron tequila reposado,Aperol, fresh lemon juice, blood orange juice and agave syrup. Ideal for summer days.
Heard the one about ‘today’s’ soup = beer? Well, here the soup of the day genuinely did contain beer, so I naturally ordered a bowl to complement my lager. Staying true to the promise of Scottish provenance, this unusual dish was made using beer from nearby 71 Brewing. So, what does beer soup taste like? Basically,mariniere sauce: cream, garlic and parsley, but replace the white wine or cider with beer. Ideal for anyone who is a fan of Belgian mussels, and it came topped with a cheesy crouton.
We then decided to sample the prettiest item on the menu, the Lady Mary, pomelo,tomato and beetroot salad. Lady Mary is a tangy cows’ milk cheese, and here it was served with fresh tomatoes, pomelo and dehydrated beetroot. With a meringue-like feel, the beetroot dissolved in the mouth, resulting in an unexpected mix of flavour and texture.
For our main course we both went meaty, ordering barbary duck breast with confitleg pithivier, spiced pear and creamed savoy. This looked great, full of rustichomely French promise. The duck was perfect, moist and tender but with a crisp skin, a little duck confit pie, delectable cabbage and ripe sweet pear. A filling portion of beautifully cooked meat with excellent sides.
Even more impressive were the 8oz flat iron steak frites. The steak came medium-rare, as suggested, with a perfectly chargrilled exterior and a welcome pink interior. It was served with a gravy boat of tarragon sauce, which wasn’t strictly needed as it was moist and flavoursome in its own right. This was as good as anything you’ll find in the main steak restaurants in Glasgow, but at half the price. The meat was a true winner, but special mention must go to the chips, which were also excellent and incredibly addictive.
Both almost full, we managed to summon the willpower to share a dessert –the Chocolate tofu ganache, coconut purée, praline, and lemon sorbet. It was described by Nikos, the manager, as the best vegan dessert you’ve ever tasted. We couldn’t disagree. It was a rich and thick chocolate ganache with a crisp coating that contrasted with the tartness of the lemon sorbet.
Our first night out in Dundee in years ended on a high note. Brasserie Ecosse is making a name for itself thanks to the brilliant food and drinks selection, attentive staff, and relaxed atmosphere – the music was down tempo acid jazz. The restaurantis very spacious; there are large gaps between tables, so you can have a conversation in peace, although this roominess did mean we missed out on the cosy feel of a smaller eatery.
Toilets were modern and clean. Would eat here again!
4-5 Shore Terrace, Dundee, DD1 3AH
Excellent value steak