My recent birthday weekend was punctuated by great food and drink starting with a fantastic tasting lunch on the Saturday at Dundee's Castlehill Restaurant and ending with dinner on the Sunday at The Dogs in Edinburgh. If this wasn't enough, we were lucky enough to be invited to review The Tayberry Restaurant in the Dundee suburb of Broughty Ferry. Not a bad way to celebrate getting a year older.
The Tayberry is owned and run by the current CIS Excellence Award Young Scottish Chef of the Year, Adam Newth. Myself and Nicola had been at the award ceremony at Hilton Glasgow back in May when Adam was recognised by the CIS judges and having since followed Adam's career on social media, we were looking forward to having such a highly esteemed chef cook dinner for us.
We arrived a little early for our reservation but were quickly shown to our VIP table. We've eaten in some pretty decent restaurants over the years but I'm not sure that we've ever had a table with such a stunning view. As it happened to be the National Prosecco Day, we enjoyed a chilled glass of Italy's finest as we watched the sun begin to set over the East Newk of Fife and looked forward to the tasting menu that was about to be served to us over the next few hours.
Our prosecco was going doing nicely, helped by the arrival of our first course. Our appetizers were made up with a selection of freshly baked breads and savoury scones with two creamy butters, deep fried pork fat, and an amazing pot of smoked haddock topped with caviar and curry oil. Talk about big flavour! This was a great way to start our meal and a good introduction to some of the flavour combinations that Adam likes to bring to the table. Special mention must go to the smoked haddock dish - the balance of smokiness from the fish, saltiness from the caviar and spiciness from the curry oil was perfect.
Tasting menus are a great way of getting to see the full range of a chefs cooking skill. Having matched wines served with the tasting menu is a great way of seeing how much the chef understands flavour combinations. Normally we would have jumped at the chance of paired wines but as we had already had a few drinks, we played it safe and ordered a bottle of Franschhoek Celler, a crisp fresh Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. The wine was a very easy drinking wine that would be great on a hot summers day but also stood up well to the big flavours that we were served across the evening.
The first proper course of the tasting menu was simply titled 'Goats Cheese Ravioli, Pea Velouté, Spinach' but it was so much more than that. The dish consisted of a huge ravioli resting on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with a selections microherbs. As we breathed in the aromas from the plate, our waitress poured a velvety pea green velouté around the ravioli. The velouté was packed with fresh pea flavour that stood up well to the salty goats cheese inside the ravioli. The wilted spinach brought a peppery earthiness to the dish and helped cut through the sharp cheese. We both love goats cheese and this starter was one of the best we've had using this wonderful ingredient.
The next dish to arrive was one of my favourites across the night. This dish of Pig Cheek, Fennel Sauerkraut and Hazelnut was a joy to eat. I'm not sure how long the pig cheek had been cooking for but it must have been hours as it fell apart with ease. The pork was rich in flavour, almost beefy and when eaten with the lightly pickled fennel sauerkraut it had my taste buds singing. I would expect to see toasted hazelnuts on a dessert but the depth of flavour and added texture that it brought to the pork was immense. A garnish of fennel leaves and wild garlic helped raise the dish to another level as well as add a little colour to the dish.
From the minute Nicola cast her eyes over the menu, she had been looking forward to the next course of Scallop and Black Pudding. This was another course that delivered so much more than it suggested from the menu. Two huge pieces of scallop, seared to perfection, were joined on the plate by a couple of black pudding bonbons, celeriac purée and squid ink mayonnaise. The black pudding bonbon was crunchy on the outside and spicy on the inside, and a perfect companion to the sweet scallop whilst the subtle celery flavour from the purée added some depth to the dish. Nicola loved this dish, especially with the addition of the squid ink mayonnaise, which she felt pulled the whole dish together. I wasn't so so keen on this element, it was too salty for my taste.
The last savour course was another wonderful plate of food and the type of meal that we would both have ordered from an a la carte menu. The Black Isla Lamb Rump, Potato Terrine and Broad Bean sounded simple but was so much more. The lamb rump, cooked in the water bath before being finished off in the pan, was very pink but just on the right side of medium. The tender lamb sat upon a bed of broad beans, wilted baby gem lettuce with a few dollops of broad bean purée dotted around the plate and drizzled with a rich lamb gravy. Oddly enough, the tender lamb wasn't the star of the show, that title went to the potato terrine. Imagine the best chip that you've ever eaten, sliced into wafer thin strips before being reassembled and cooked in butter - that's the best way that I can describe it. I've never eaten tastier potatoes and I'm not sure that I ever will again!
With the savoury stuff behind us, it was time to look forward to something sweet. The restaurant's signature pre-dessert was Tayberry, Beetroot and Chocolate and was served in a bowl that looked like something Daft Punk might wear. The sharp Tayberry sorbet done a great job of acting as a palette cleanser whilst the rich chocolate and beetroot cake reminds you that there's still a pudding to come. We both loved this pre-dessert and could easily have eaten a much larger portion.
The restaurant takes it name from the cultivated shrub which is a cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry, named after the River Tay and patented by Derek L. Jennings of Dundee and released by the Scottish Horticultural Research Society in 1979. To help stamp its own mark on this noble fruit, the restaurant has had its own Tayberry Infused Liqueur created by local artisan distiller, The Gin Bothy and we were served a large measure over ice to enjoy with our desserts. We both love the infused gins from The Gin Bothy and this light and fruity version made with the tayberry was fantastic.
After a relaxing two and a bit hours, our last course was served and it was definitely worth the wait. The title of Pittormie Strawberry Parfait, Black Pepper and Lemon gave nothing away but the dessert that arrived was worthy of any tasting menu. This celebration of strawberries started with a zingy strawberry disc jelly topped with a circle of dark chocolate brownie, macerated strawberries, a thick wedge of creamy parfait and ended with a strip of dehydrated lemon and black pepper meringue. The balance of flavour and texture was perfect - the fresh fruity flavours of strawberry were balanced wonderfully by the subtle black pepper and lemon, the brownie brought enough chocolate flavour to disrupt the sweetness from the strawberry but not too much that it overpowered the dessert whilst the meringue added the right amount of crunch to balance the textures.
With dinner coming to an end we ordered coffee and liqueurs. The Tayberry carries the full range of flavours from The Gin Bothy, so I relaxed with the Amaretto Liqueur which was packed full of almond flavour but much lighter and less sweet than the Italian classic whilst Nicola enjoyed a glass of rhubarb infused gin over ice with her espresso.
Across the evening, we were well looked after by restaurant manager Jonathan and his team. Service was slick yet laid back, allowing us to savour each course from the tasting menu whilst giving us plenty of time to enjoy the setting sun. After dinner service, Adam came out of the kitchen to chat with us, keen to get feedback on our dinner and service. With every dish cooked and seasoned well and presented beautifully, we only had kind words for the chef. As it turned out, we were last to leave and Adam sat with us until our taxi arrived to take us back to the local Premier Inn.
Our meal and drinks were complimentary but my review above is an honest write-up of our experiences over the evening. We would like to take this time to thanks Adam and his staff for their hospitality and generosity and look forward to getting back to Broughty Ferry another time.
Broughty Ferry is often regarded as 'the jewel in Dundee's crown' and if that really is the case, then Chef Adam Newth may well be its 'Cullinan-ary' King!
Keep an eye on news from The Tayberry on Facebook and Twitter or if you fancy trying out the best that Broughty Ferry has to offer, you can book a table here.