I have visited The Playwright a few times in the past but only ever for the pre-theatre menu which I have previously found to be good value, combining high quality food with interesting choices.
This time I decided to try making The Playwright the evening’s destination, so booked a table for 8pm for the a la carte menu.
I like the layout and décor of the place. The black and white photos of celebrities on the wall are great to gaze at when there is a lull in conversation and the staff are always friendly and welcoming. However, atmosphere is hard to create when an establishment is empty and as there was only one other table in the restaurant for the entirety of our stay it felt very, very quiet, even for a Tuesday evening.
I chose the hot smoked salmon starter which was made up of a mixture of elements – the salmon and accompanying crab being cold and the smoked egg hot. The flavour of the egg was incredibly subtle; so much so that had I not read the menu first, I don’t think I would have identified it as smoked, although the slightly brown exterior was a hint. A soft poached egg of any description always goes well with the intensity of the fish though, and the crab provided a lovely sweetness.
My guest chose the scallops and sea trout. The scallops were well cooked and the saffron really shone through. However, while we liked the starters, we were not blown away by them and sadly this was a sign of things to come.
For my main course I went for the duck leg. The confit meat itself was generous if a bit bland and with the skin disappointingly jelly-like, rather than crispy. The accompanying mango and sesame gave the dish a much-needed lift and the duck pithivier was rich, if mainly pastry.
Our other main course was the beef fillet which was perfectly cooked – charred on the outside but soft and tender in the middle and a very decent size. The smoked aubergines which had intrigued us on the menu were lovely and a couple more of the thin slices would have been a welcome addition. The Violette potatoes looked interesting but had a fairly nondescript flavour and the star of this dish was definitely the beef.
For dessert, we went for the glazed coffee and chocolate torte which was rich and decadent. The ice cream tasted of real coffee and not that synthetic flavour you sometimes encounter. I’d love to tell you about the raspberry sphere with raspberry mousse and raspberry sorbet but sadly it was demolished before I had chance to taste it. This was by far the highlight of the meal for my guest.
I confess I left with mixed feelings about The Playwright. The food was good, the service great and the atmosphere only let down by the lack of other customers. But for a menu on which the cheapest main course is £23.95, I had expected more. This is not a cheap evening out by anyone’s standards and when splashing out I want food that is talked about for the entire journey home, which was not the case here.
I will probably be back in the future when looking for a lovely pre-theatre deal but with the Dundee food scene sky-rocketing and so many new places on the brink of opening, I will carry on searching for those unforgettable evenings elsewhere.
Price: Starters: £9.95 – £12.95; main courses: £23.95 – £26.95; Desserts: £7.95 – £10.00. Pre-theatre menu: 2 courses for £16.95, 3 courses for £19.95.
Info: The Playwright
Address: 11 Tay Street, Dundee, DD1 1PB
Tel: 01382 223 113