Ahead of opening on April 27, The Courier has been allowed access inside the restaurant to take a sneak peek at what it is set to look like and what customers can expect when they visit.
Dundee’s Exchange Street, down near the waterfront, has been building a reputation for itself in recent years as a foodie haven.
But with Castlehill having closed in December 2019, before the coronavirus lockdowns had come into force, the site has lain empty for more than a year. However, food fans in the city will be delighted to hear that there’s a new kid on the block about to open its doors – Vandal & Co.
Taking over the reins of the street’s newest foodie offering is Jonnie Armitage and his business partner, Corey Buxton, with chef Nicholas Kock running the kitchen.
An idea that has been in the making for a few months, Jonnie and Corey decided to turn their dream of running a restaurant into a reality.
Jonnie said: “It came to be via me and my business partner, Corey. We’ve been working in hospitality for a number of years now and we felt it was the right time to move away from being part of a management team to being owners. It’s kind of been in the pipeline for six months or so.
“The name Vandal & Co just came about from playing around with words and trying to come up with a restaurant name that was non-specific to the type of food that we wanted to sell.
“It’s very easy to name your restaurant after an Italian restaurant or an Asian restaurant, but we feel that we’re going to offer more than one specific type of food. It’s a name that very much catches people’s imagination and attention and we feel it’s something we can grow with as well.”
Although the team at Vandal & Co have decided not to stick to one particular cuisine or food type, they will be catering for all sorts of dietary requirements, including vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and vegan, with dishes to suit all appearing on their menu.
They’ll also be serving up a range of traditional cocktails, bespoke experimental cocktails that have been created specifically by the Vandal and Co team, as well as some alcohol-free options.
Jonnie added: “A lot of people have been asking what kind of food we will be serving and we’ve been struggling to give an answer. In our minds, what we believe it to be is, without trying to sound poncy or ‘on-trend’, we’re first and foremost a British restaurant.
“If you look at the British culture and the history of us as a nation, what we do is embrace different styles and different trends of food. So everything from British-Asian fusion and little bit of American thrown in with burgers and wings. We’ve also got some French-style food that we’ve put our Vandal & Co twist on. The style really is for the entire city to enjoy.”
Having transformed the site of the former Castlehill restaurant, Jonnie and his team say they are excited to be joining the other businesses on the city’s Exchange Street and to be able to offer “the best brunch menu in the city”.
“It feels good to be at the site of the former Castlehill restaurant,” he continued.
“We know the history of the site very well and we believe that now we’ve joined Exchange Street, which is a very vibrant and independent street, that we’re definitely going to add value to the offering.
“With current restrictions in place, customers can expect probably the best brunch menu in the city. We’re going to be doing brunch, lunch and very early dinner as obviously we’re forced to close by 8pm.
“I feel the first couple of weeks will be a very good opportunity for people to get a little taste of what we do. It gives us the opportunity to make sure we’re absolutely ready for when people can rejoin hospitality indoors without a nice glass of wine or a cocktail.
“In terms of bookings, we’re probably sitting on about 130 or 140 covers booked in for the first week. We can take 36 in one sitting, so we’re very happy with the bookings so far.”
Vandal & Co will be open every day from April 27: Monday – Thursday 10am – 9pm, Friday and Saturday 10am – 11pm, and Sunday 10am – 6pm.
More information, including brunch, lunch and drinks menus, can be found on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Vandalco/