There was something incredibly emotional about walking into The View for dinner last week, my first outing for a Friday Wahey! supper in a long, long time.
It wasn’t only that it was the end of a hard week and I’d just downloaded two glasses of Champagne and my vaccine certificate, the act of which unleashed quite the torrent of thoughts about what we’ve all been through.
It was enough to make the short walk from my house to the restaurant seem more of a personal mission statement than a mere journey to get fed and watered.
This transition period in the pandemic is so strange in that we have no idea what we’re transitioning to. I know people who still haven’t been to a restaurant or a cafe for fear of Covid.
I know a lot of people who haven’t been to a restaurant recently due to lack of disposable income and fear of what the future will bring. I know people who are using foodbanks to subsist, for whom the idea of eating out is as ludicrous as going to a Marks and Spencer food hall for a treat or an Aldi for their weekly shop.
And online we still have Perth-born “Dr” Gillian McKeith (never a medical doctor and probably still remembered as Dr Poo to you, if she’s remembered at all) telling us relentlessly that it’s all a fuss over nothing.
This is a time when we’re all scared – and rightly so, in my opinion. I mean, as a reasonably stoic and sane person, it’s hard not to be paranoid right now, at a time when even paranoids are under attack from airborne enemies.
At the other end of the spectrum, a recent visit to London showed large swathes of people partying like it’s 2019, behaving in a manner which seemed reckless and selfish – especially on public transport and in restaurants and bars.
This is why, for once in my life, I want to be right in the middle of the road – cautious but starting to live a life again, one that encompasses fun, frivolity, petit fours and the occasional finger bowl.
It’s also vital that we continue to support a hospitality industry in crisis.
The View has been part of my life since I bought my house in Fife 15 years ago. Then, it was a nice pub called the Taybridge Halt and every Friday I’d arrive back from my job in London, check the house was OK and then install myself in this village pub for the best steak pie outside of my mum’s house.
A copy of The Courier, a pint and my Blackberry (this was pre iPhone) meant I could conduct business at my pub table while simultaneously getting psyched up for the weekend. I still miss this ritual as I love the idea of having a local pub.
The View replaced the Taybridge Halt many years ago and is trying to be that rare thing – a neighbourhood restaurant to which people will travel. The sight of a pretty full car park on the night we went is a sure sign that people are happy to do so.
The restaurant looks hugely welcoming and was already packed when we arrived for our 7.15pm reservation, a table we had only managed to secure after someone cancelled the day before. This is a place that is getting something right and the word is definitely out.
People have a loyalty to this place, and I can see why. Last time I reviewed it I wrote about its very many attributes but mentioned a couple of small yet niggling issues which I felt kept it just short of being as consistently great as it could be. The spirited response to this was heartening to see because I think it’s so admirable when a restaurant gains and keeps a devoted following – and of course it’s always good to be challenged or proved wrong.
This time I’m happy to say there are no ifs and no buts – our meal at The View was wonderful and the surroundings and service were just great.
We left much happier than we arrived, which is always the sign of a good restaurant, where the food is just a part – albeit a crucial part – of the whole experience.
Firstly, of course, The View does indeed have a view and, as dusk falls it becomes even more magical – the rail bridge takes on a glowing majesty seen with this juxtaposition of sky, water, iron and steel.
It’s totally awe-inspiring and you can see it all from most tables here as the lights come on over the Tay in Dundee. When a train crosses the bridge it always reminds me of an Eric Ravilious painting from the 1930s in that the train looks impossibly glamorous and filled with the potential of new experience gained from travel.
There were a lot of waiting staff here and I found out later that this is because new recruits were being trained that evening.
Our service from Karen was just great – friendly, knowledgeable and streamlined. This is a place conducive to a pleasurable experience, from the greeting as you arrive, the fairy lights strewn at the entrance and the feeling that these people want you to kick back and have a lovely time.
As such it’s my definition of a great neighbourhood restaurant.
The food was ace. Because we were both famished we ordered some flatbread with hummus (£4) which was an excellent way to stave off shouting at each other until the mellow, soporific rush of a good Côte du Rhône (£23.50) could kick in and stabilise the blood sugar levels before the starters came.
My haddock flan (£9) was as good as a starter gets. This warm flan, filled with peat-smoked haddock and smoked salmon, was light and perfectly balanced.
I had wondered about the inclusion of smoked salmon and had really questioned the idea of serving the flan with a curry mayonnaise until we remembered the delight of flavours within a good kedgeree. This flan was wonderful.
David’s salad of tomato, mozzarella and guacamole (£7.50) came with an excellent red onion tempura, the batter light and crispy, the whole dish enhanced by the balsamic glaze.
I chose from the specials board, and I chose well. The roast Perthshire rump of lamb (£23.50) was served with roast veg, hugely more-ish potato croquettes, rocket and a pea pesto.
It was the business – the lamb perfectly cooked and the accompanying veg bringing the dish together into a harmonious delight. I think this was the first night this dish had appeared on the menu and I only hope it reappears for my next visit.
David’s cauliflower and potato with parmesan cheese and a herb crust was served with spinach and also comes as a carnivorous version, with chorizo (£17). This was a good example of how vegetarian food doesn’t have to be butternut squash or leaden gnocchi, an all too familiar sight on many local menus.
Here, these very humble ingredients – cauliflower, potato, cheese and kale – came together to create something more than the sum of their parts.
David, quite often disappointed by the standard of vegetarian options on Tayside, was a happy man.
Incidentally I’m grateful to the Perthshire reader who recently wrote to me bemoaning the state of vegetarian options across Courier country.
While not being vegetarian myself I think this is a crusade we should all be part of, both for ecological and ethical reasons, and also those of taste. It’s not hard to make great vegetarian food, but you have to CARE enough to do so.
The twice-cooked chips and the buttered greens (each £4.50) we ordered with our main courses were both delicious, even if it turned David’s meal into the most joyful carbfest.
In the interests of providing a full review here we had to have a pudding – oh, OK, the truth is we’re gluttons and the dessert menu was pretty irresistible.
My cherry and almond flan (£8.50) was served warm and came with the most delectable orange marmalade ice cream and vanilla sauce.
I’m a bit obsessed by cherries from the days when I had cherry trees in the garden of my house in France – the effort it took me to dislodge these beauties from their branches led to me treating the fruit as if it was the rarest of truffles. This cherry flan was a happy reminder of my life as a European, when getting stoned was something exclusively reserved for soft fruit.
David’s sticky toffee pudding (£8) came with butterscotch sauce and cinnamon ice cream. I’m afraid to say this prompted me to think about calories and weight gain and sugar levels, as I shamelessly helped him polish off every delicious morsel. As my mother used to say, there’s time for diets when you’re dead.
After this positively bacchanalian feast, and another bottle of wine, even I felt that Friday wasn’t only on my mind but was actually the only day that mattered. The Friday feeling is the best!
That David managed to sneak in a glass of dessert wine (£4) defied logic and even need but it definitely made the walk home slur into a slower, happier gear.
The View is great. It was such a genuine joy to see this local – MY local – packed to the gills and seemingly buoyant and firing on all cylinders, especially at a time like this when hospitality seems constantly under threat.
Thankfully the only threat here is from too much of a good thing – and I’m a firm believer that too much is rarely enough. Viva The View!
Address: The View, 5 Naughton Road, Wormit, Fife, AA6 8NE
T: 01382 542287
Price: Starters from £5.50; Mains from £17; Desserts from £7
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5