Victoria & Albert Museum, Tatha Bar & Kitchen, 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee

I was pleased to be able to attend the Crime Writers’ Association Scottish lunch recently. The inimitable Wendy H Jones found time not only to organise the event, but also to prepare a quiz, wrap a gift for each attendee and generally be a fabulous host. Prices in Edinburgh and Glasgow have risen so greatly in the last few years that this event was booked for the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tatha Bar & Kitchen, 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee. There could certainly not have been a more excellent setting for the gathering.

v-and-a-museum-in-dundee out

V&A Dundee is an international centre of design museum in Dundee, Scotland. It presents the brilliance of Scottish creativity and the best of design from around the world. It opened on 15 September 2018. The V&A Dundee is the first design museum in Scotland and the first Victoria and Albert museum outside London. V&A Dundee provides a place of inspiration, discovery and learning. The V&A Dundee is also the first building in the United Kingdom that has been designed by Kengo Kuma.

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I arrived a little late due to problems with the trains, so climbed the steps to the Tatha Bar & Kitchen which is located upstairs in the new museum with a balcony overlooking the River Tay. I had excellent company as I sat at a table with Mac Logan and the Mulgrew twins who, apparently, mamnged to write cosy crime novels together without ripping each others heads off. Apparently diners can normally expect a true taste of Tayside, with brewers, fishmongers and farmers from Dundee and Perth all being brought on board as suppliers and Dundee brewery 71 Brewing will be providing two main beers – Mandarina Sky and 71 Lager. However, we chose from the more limited festive menu.

Now here I must declare an interest in that I am vegetarian. There was a vegetarian choice for each course and for last course the cheese was vegetarian. The fig, pear and walnut salad that I had for my first course was delicious but the serving was very tiny. Nouvelle cuisine rules at the V & A Dundee! My companions also enjoyed thier first course of salmon but agreed that the offerings were small.

v & a restaurant 2

There was then over an hour to wait before the main courses arrived. Wendy had to chase up the servers. The vegetarian choice was pollenta served with a predictably small serving of vegetables. My meal was very poorly seasoned, dull and dry. I sent it back. I got no apology nor explanation. I see no reason why vegetarians should receive food that is not tasty. Having said that, my fellow diners said their meals, duck, were not warm enough and rather chewy. Not only vegetarians were being targetted with poor quality food. Having taken an hour to provide the main courses, it was disappointing that they were not perfect.

The last course took so long to arrive that some of our group thought they would have to leave before it arrived. Again, Wendy was disturbed because she went to speak to the restaurant manager about this too. When the desrts arrived, they were delicious. My table companions all chose a sweet. Again, the serving was small but I chose the cheese: a vegatarian brie with bread. It was an enormous portion and beautifully ripened cheese.

The Tatha Bar and Kitchen has such spectacular views across the River Tay and is set in av & a 3 fascinating and unique building, so it is a shame that the quality of our meal and the service were both so very poor. I cannot recommend the restaurant but luckily for me, the company I was in was fine.

Val Penny

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