Murray Chalmers has been a regular at The View for 13 years, it’s his local. But, he says, while the cooking is very good indeed, do the prices not prevent it from becoming a true neighbourhood restaurant?
The View has been my local for the past 13 years. In that time it’s changed from being a much-loved village pub serving really good grub (their majestic steak pie even impressed my late mother, the self-anointed steak pie Queen of Lochee) to a Scottish “tapas” restaurant and now its current incarnation.
What is it now? Well, for a local place – the only place to eat in this small village – it certainly punches above its weight with the menu and the cooking.
Sadly though, like the ambitious cooking, the prices aim high – an already quite expensive dinner menu features supplements galore (there were four the night we dined, including a supplement for just one cheese taken as a dessert) – and really preclude this from becoming a true neighbourhood restaurant that you could consider just dropping in to regularly.
I would love to go here once a week. You know how it goes, especially in winter; you get to Wednesday, it’s dark, there’s no food in the house, no leftovers in the fridge and the week has already wreaked havoc with your energy levels and your mood.
You just want to walk somewhere that is simple yet cossetting, serving damn good food and a glass of a ballsy red to wash it down with? Instant levity – job done; life is sweeter. That should be The View for Wormiteers and nearby Taysiders.
But going to The View has become rather more for a special occasion than a weekly visit – it’s simply not affordable enough and the prices take it outside what we expect to pay for a simple supper.
Sure, there is a supper menu served between Sunday and Thursday in which two courses are £25 and three are £30.
The lunch menu is two courses for £23 and they are pragmatic enough to also offer a menu of open sandwiches from £9. But £23 for two courses is still not cheap when, for example, The River Café in London, one of the UK’s absolute top restaurants, is currently serving a two-course lunch menu for £28.
I don’t want to labour this point – and of course it’s ridiculous to ignore differences in operations and economies of scale between a small Fife restaurant and a major, much bigger metropolitan foodie icon – but I do think it’s an important point to make at a time when disposable income is shrinking and people are finding it tougher and eating out less. People would eat out more here if the prices were lowered.
So, to the food. Well, it’s pretty good, really – some of it great. My gravadlax of salmon, king prawn and pea shoot, orange and a dill dressing was flavoursome and looked pretty as a picture. But really this is more assembling than cooking so what’s with the £3 supplement? The salmon wasn’t notably superior quality to what I can buy from the smokehouse in Dunkeld or in a good local deli.
It shouldn’t be priced as a luxury product requiring a supplement; even the idea of it seems so cheap and as irritating as a pin-bone stuck in the throat.
David’s sesame goats cheese fritters, orange marmalade, cherry tomatoes and aged balsamic was a reasonable starter but, again, it was nothing which really celebrated great vegetarian cooking – which you might expect at this price. It tasted good though.
My main course was truly excellent. Local pheasant breast, mushroom cream, spinach, black pudding crumb and crispy potatoes was just the thing to quell the January blues.
The pheasant was beautifully cooked and the accompaniments chimed so well that the £5 supplement seemed worth it.
But in the cold light of day I have to question again the very outdated idea of charging a supplement for certain foods that are seen as luxury.
Is pheasant a luxury? In supermarket terms it might be seen as such but I used to buy it for a fiver or less from the butcher a few miles down the road in Newport. It’s not like we’re talking Chateaubriand here.
David’s vegetarian main course of gnocchi was a disaster because the gnocchi just wasn’t cooked. Served with a blue cheese sauce and, for some unfathomable reason, vegetable pakora, it was the kind of dish that seemed to multiply as the minutes went by, both on the plate and in your mouth.
In the mouth it swelled and resisted all attempts at mastication, like some uncooked fermenting mass frantically seeking your windpipe as a last-chance saloon.
How could someone let this out of the kitchen?
In fairness I have to say that the next night I had some pasta in the legendary Valvona and Crolla in Edinburgh that was so al dente I could have plugged a leak with it.
If this is a thing let’s make it resolutely NOT a thing because, truly, if you tolerate this then your children will be next… pasta and gnocchi must be cooked!
Happily, the dessert at The View was fantastic. Warm Belgian chocolate tart, cherry sorbet and vanilla cream was perfect and worth crossing rivers for, I’d say. Great stuff and one of the nicest desserts we’ve had in ages.
I really like The View, which might not seem obvious from the above.
The food is great (I’m writing the gnocchi off as an aberration), the service is ace and the atmosphere is lovely. It’s very low key. They open for breakfast and for lunch and are smart enough to include a bacon roll for £3.50 in their breakfast menu. A full breakfast is a reasonable £10. That’s all great.
I just get frustrated that the main pricing puts it almost into the realm of fine dining, which makes it a destination restaurant rather than one that is accessible to everyone, especially families.
Recently they have introduced themed nights, which do bring the prices down a bit; the burger night I went to was fun and the food was good. I admire what they do here enormously; they try hard and, ultimately, what they are offering is so good.
Not many people are lucky enough to have a place like this in their village. It’s just that, for me, there’s such a disparity between what they offer and the prices they charge – and it’s this that stops me and, I think, other villagers using it as a true local restaurant that we can support more by going more often.
If they could find that gap between the pub they used to be and what they have become I think it would be a win/win for all of us. I hope they do.
The View 38/50
Naughton Rd, Wormit, Newport-on-Tay DD6 8NE
t: 01382 542287
Price: Dinner 2 courses £30. 3 courses £38; supper menu Sunday-Thursday 2 courses £25. 3 courses £30; lunch main course £16. 2 courses £23. 3 courses £28; breakfast from £3.