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Restaurant review: Symphony of culinary delights at The Bach in Dundee

Some of the dishes from The Bach.
Some of the dishes from The Bach.

I had breakfast in the Bach and loved it so much I went back for lunch that same day.

And I have to say that, if they’d been open for dinner, I would have been very happy to go back to this wonderful place a third time to round off a day of gustatory pleasure.

The Bach is that good.

Quite simply, if it didn’t exist in Dundee someone would have to invent it. Luckily for us, someone already has.

The Bach

I’ve been here many times and also written about it before, having loved The Bach since its first incarnation in Exchange Court – when going there felt as much like a celebration of old Dundee as a harbinger of a new city.

The truth is I hadn’t planned to re-review The Bach this week, simply because I’ve written about it quite a few times before and had it on my list to revisit later this month.

But the original place I planned to review wasn’t available at the right time and you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find somewhere that opens every day of the week in Dundee.

You might also be amazed at how difficult many businesses still make it to find out their opening days and times, and even their address.

Outside The Bach in Dundee.

As we enter a new stage of dealing with the pandemic, this kind of information is crucial and yet some businesses still hide it at the end of their website, or don’t mention it at all.

No such thing with The Bach, whose brilliant site is as straight-talking as you’d wish for on a day when you just want to find something good to eat.

The first thing you see on their website is the joyous information that this place is open every day from 9am-4.30pm. This is followed by the message Aroha nui, stay safe.

Aroha nui means great love, much love, with deep affection in Maori and I can think of no more apt phrase to see so prominently displayed on the website of a venue which so brilliantly exemplifies the art of hospitality.

Quite simply, The Bach is the best restaurant in the centre of Dundee, and I can’t wait for them to open in the evenings so the experience can broaden.

Inside The Batch venue.

Firstly, the space itself is beautiful.

Here is somewhere that feels modern and seems to look outwards. By this, I don’t just mean that some of the tables have a view of the beautiful McManus gallery and museum opposite, lovely as this is. This is something deeper – it’s a vision that embraces simplicity, eclecticism, function and comfort. It’s bare boards, simple furniture and good lighting. It’s a space designed to kick back in and it feels international and
not parochial.

As such it’s one of the few restaurant spaces in the centre of town that looks to the future.

The venue

Perhaps it’s no surprise that The Bach is owned and run by two New Zealanders because this is a relaxed yet knowing space that could happily exist in any metropolitan environment in the world.

Their website states that their story is one of independence and already I’m hooked – there are way too many horrible chain restaurants in Dundee. The blurb on the site continues “started and run by a couple of wandering Kiwis, we’re in the business of trying to do the best casual food around – anything from eggs on toast to hawker rolls to burgers. We supplement this with speciality coffee, roasted in Scotland, wine from around the world and some seriously good craft beer, most of it from New Zealand’s burgeoning scene”.

Murray liked the interior of the venue.

Staff here are young, cool and keen and service is good.

There are a few different seating areas and each has its merit, but I probably prefer it up on the mezzanine where you can look out over the pleasing bustle below or out the window to the McManus. The main seating area is on the ground floor and at the end of that are two other spaces – a Tap Room area and a further dining space.

A concealed space up on the mezzanine and round the corner is the place to choose if you’re having a secret assignation, be it business or pleasure.

The Bach actually has happy memories for me because this is where The Courier editor took me for lunch when he took over the role. I thought I was going to be fired from writing this column and could barely concentrate on the food until I realised I was in the clear. To this day I can’t sit at that same table without remembering my
knees knocking together in wussyness.

More of the interior of The Bach.

No such issues arose this time when I was happy to see my pal and esteemed Dundee musical virtuoso Andrew Wasylyk at a neighbouring table, also breakfasting solo. This was a good sign as Andrew travels extensively and he knows his Roscoff onions from his shallots.

Ever nosey, and also aware that even I could only consume a finite amount of food from The Bach in one day, I asked Andrew what he’d eaten and he said that his vegetarian Bich Of The Bach breakfast (£12) had been excellent.
It must be the football that keeps Andrew whippet thin because this monster breakfast was formed from vegetarian girders – Bach beans, roasted tomato, mushroom, vegetarian haggis, hash browns, grilled halloumi, potato scone, two organic free-range eggs, toast and jam.

The food

In the interests of this column, and partly through food envy of a neighbouring table, I did order two breakfasts though, and both were ace.

The corn fritters (£7.50) included fresh herbs and were light and delicious. Served with home-made Bach chipotle chilli jam and lemon creme fraiche, even my gym trainer might be convinced to see them as a health food.

Bach Beans.

My second breakfast dish of Bach Beans (£5) is a classic, one I’ve often had here and also made at home. Chickpea and haricot baked beans come anointed in a rich sauce anchored by the deep bass hum of smoked paprika – a dark, dense smoky delight, and a bargain, since they come on good toast.

Coffee, as you might expect, is excellent.

There is much to be said in praise of this menu, not least that it avoids many of the cliches that are an instant turn off for me. For instance, I would be very, very happy never to see another haggis bonbon for as long as I live – and thankfully the Bach eschews this horror.

Here, traditional classics are joined by new ones like mince on toast (£8.50), ham hough hash (£10) and crispy chicken bao buns (£7.50).

This is all great, homemade food served with care. It’s everything you want, really.

Another popular breakfast option.

Incidentally, the mince on toast served here is topped with a poached egg and hollandaise, and is presented as a Kiwi favourite. But you might also want to try making Fergus Henderson’s classic St John version from The Book of St John – here the gently simmered beef mince is ladled over crunchy dripping toast in a celebration of bovine flavours that also includes copious amounts of red wine, beef dripping, oatmeal and horseradish.

As you enjoy these riffs on a Scottish classic, either at home or in The Bach, don’t have too much fun without me.

A quick trip to the gym as some kind of pre-penance, and I was back at the Bach for lunch.

This time the place was pretty full, and for this reason I’d advise booking if you can.

They do accept walk-ins but, should you be able to forward-plan, this is a place that is highly popular, so booking would be better.

There were so many things I was drawn to for lunch, not least the intriguingly named Cabbie burger (£11.50) and the Daddy-O bagel (£7). But really, nothing could tear me away from the chicken roti (£8.50).

Sat upstairs, with the sun streaming through the windows, it was hard not to feel euphoric even at the thought of the following melange of good flavours and textures – crumbed chicken, Bach slaw, cucumber, peppers, satay sauce, chilli, coriander and peanuts, served in a flaky roti canai.

Chicken roti.

If reading about these transportive flavours makes you want to go online and book a holiday, imagine what it was like eating them? Simple, delicious bliss.

I drank a ginger and chipotle kombucha with my lunch (£3) but had I been getting the bus home I definitely would have been tempted by the very good drinks list. The wine list had some unusual bottles and is priced from £20 which is very reasonable, but it’s the excellent list of beers, ciders and cocktails that will probably prove even more tempting on subsequent visits.

I look forward to when the taproom is used as an adjunct space to investigate the enterprising drinks list.

The verdict

The Bach is just what’s needed in Dundee and I can’t really praise it highly enough.

Like all hospitality industries this place was hit hard by the pandemic and thus their ambitious plans had to be somewhat kept on hold. But they not only survived, they kept their standards up. That’s admirable.

This is a big space and it feels like the owners Steve and Wendy have big ideas. It’s people like this who will move things forward in Dundee – new ideas and a fresh, outward approach. I can’t wait to have dinner in the Bach and to drink in the taproom, both of which are changes I believe to be imminent.

I also look forward to the menu evolving and adapting as we embrace warmer weather.
It’s meant as the highest praise when I say this place could stand up against any similar business in any urban space in the world. The fact that it now stands right in the middle of Dundee is truly something for us to celebrate. Bravo the Bach!


Address: The Bach, 31 Meadowside, Dundee, DD1 1DJ

W: (online booking encouraged over telephone booking)

Price: Dishes from £3.50, but average dish around £8.50


  • Food: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 5/5

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