This review is of a gifted three course dinner plus a glass of wine for two at Tatha Bar & Kitchen, located at the V&A Dundee.
The low down
Tatha Bar and Kitchen is located upstairs within the V&A Dundee. During museum hours, it’s not hard to find. After hours, you wouldn’t realise there was a restaurant open – no signage, no welcoming entrance (you go in the main door of the museum and take the stairs located within the vestibule which, again, appears to have no signage. But because we were invited there to review the restaurant, we knew it was open and how to find it. The first major tick for Tatha was the very friendly security guard who, somewhat surprisingly, knew our booking by name.
Once we stepped inside the restaurant, we immediately understood why he knew us – there were just two other tables seated, despite the premium dinner time slot of 7.30pm. We were met by the friendly m’aitre d who explained it was always like that the week before the opening of a new exhibition.
Just one other member of staff was working front of house, a really helpful and sincere waitress who went out of her way to answer questions, find answers, and give advice on the menu.
As far as interiors go, the restaurant is big, spacious and modern with a cool bar and an impressive view (as long as you go before it’s dark!).
I was excited about dinner at the V&A (technically it’s not the V&A at all – the museum and the restaurant are actually two very separate organisations) after seeing a local Instagrammer raving about it on her feed. I had brunch here around a year ago and was not impressed but I was hopeful that things had improved.
We enjoyed the mushroom and truffle soup which was indulgently creamy without compromising on a full flavour, and was served with a warm mini granary loaf. The mussels, served with sourdough, came with a Chinese plum sauce. The mussels were beautiful and well done, super tasty and I honestly couldn’t get enough of them. However, the Chinese sauce didn’t work for us, we both would have rather a classic white wine and garlic sauce. This new combination was fine, but detracted from the beauty of the mussels.
I ordered the lemon and thyme chicken which came with truffled leek, fried polenta, mushroom and tarragon cream sauce, cheese and pastry. Looking at it now, there are a lot of flavours happening here but, as with most complex dishes, I expected the lemon and thyme chicken to take centre stage with supporting acts from the extras. Upon sight, I felt my face fall. The presentation was off-putting; two huge pieces of pale meat wobbling atop mushrooms, propped up by a door stopper of polenta and finished with what appeared to be a cookie or biscuit but turned out to be a pleasantly surprising piece of cheese infused pastry. As I ate, it transpired that there were indeed too many flavours happening on one plate – though there was no trace of the headliners lemon or thyme – and the quality of meat was poor.
Kris ordered the maple roast highland venison which came with mushroom barley, sweet potato, fermented red cabbage and chocolate dressing. This looked beautiful on the plate – rich and juicy, there was an exciting depth of colour to dish. It looked mouth-wateringly good. The venison and cabbage worked well but the mushroom barley would better be served in soup. Perhaps with a small amount of mashed potato instead of the barley it would have been really, really tasty.
We both ordered the autumn fruit and white chocolate pudding – a bread and butter pudding with orange compote and vanilla cream. It arrived looking super pretty, an edible flower (I hope it was edible as I ate half of it) bringing a hint of colour to the winter pud, which was dense and delicious thanks to its bread-and-butter base infused with dried fruits, while the sweetness of the white chocolate juxtaposed with the tangy orange was right up my street.
We had a perfectly pleasant evening at Tatha and although we were somewhat surprised at the restaurant being almost empty on a Friday night, there was something quite special about having the place to ourselves. We were very well looked after, and the food was fresh and, for the most part, very good. Some dishes excelled, some didn’t quite work. The wine was really very good and was served in impressive glasses which created an air of elegance.
My recommendation would be to go elsewhere for dinner, but go to Tatha with the idea of enjoying the venue and location. Have a fancy drink to accompany a starter and/or dessert instead of three courses, and book your table at sunset – with that incredible view over the River Tay, Tatha offers a very special experience.
Images: Kris Miller.
Thank you to Tatha Bar & Kitchen for having us.