If you are anything like me and you enjoy your food, in particular eating out, do you build a bucket list in your mind of places you want to visit?
Maybe you’ve heard good things about the restaurant, you have had a recommendation from someone or you have seen pictures of their food on social media.
But then you never actually get around to visiting said eatery.
That is me in a nutshell. I must have built a brain bucket list of around 20 different restaurants I want to visit that I haven’t visited.
Life is busy, though, so that is my excuse.
Porters Bar and Restaurant in Dundee has been on my list for a long, long time.
I have gazed from afar – well on social media, anyway – at the dishes they prepare and have continually said to myself that I must pop in.
However, I never had done. That was until a recent Friday when I was off and I was going out to celebrate.
My daughter, Cari, had passed her driving test a few days earlier so I said let’s do lunch and you can do the driving for a change!
And I knew exactly where I was going. Fortuitously, I had seen a post on Porters’ Instagram page the previous evening that had jolted the old grey matter.
Cari immediately looked up their all-day menu, which sounded fantastic so there was not going to be any resistance from her.
It had also been a long time since I had dined in the city, plus we were going to do a bit of shopping, too. A great opportunity for a dad and daughter day out.
Dundee’s food scene, for me, is continually improving. There really is a wide variety of quality eating establishments and I was confident that Porters would be up there among them.
Porters Bar and Restaurant
A short, 20-minute drive from our home in Carnoustie along the low road had us at the City Quay in Dundee where Porters is situated.
The entrance is almost Instagrammable with some greenery, although I avoided taking a selfie so as not to embarrass my daughter. That came later when I was scolded for singing along with the music.
They were voted best restaurant in Dundee in 2017 and are proud of the fact that they source the very best local produce and ingredients to use in their dishes – and quite rightly so.
Artwork, spacious, discreet lighting, music loud enough to hear but also pitched so we could talk
Their motto is: Eat, Drink, Enjoy. I only had a soft drink but I did eat and, boy, did I enjoy it.
Porters’ all-day menu is fantastic and I genuinely couldn’t decide what I wanted to have to begin with, as the choice was fantastic.
To start, their blaggis croquettes sounded very tasty indeed, as did chicken and chorizo skewers.
Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for fish, so hot smoked salmon bruschetta (£8.50) caught my eye. I was also intrigued by the thought of what would arrive on my plate.
Cari had opted not to have a starter, instead saving herself for a dessert, as she had spied some extremely tasty treats on the menu.
But she was casting envious glances over at my plate when the dish arrived.
Lashings of hot smoked salmon that had been mixed with crème fraiche was layered over two slices of grilled ciabatta (my mouth has started watering again as I recall the experience while writing this).
When I took my first bite it was clear to me that this was a taste sensation I was going to need to savour.
The seasoning was perfect and the smokiness of the salmon combined perfectly with the crème fraiche. I offered Cari a forkful and she just said: “Wow!”, which summed the dish up for me. It was indeed a wow moment.
The dish was accompanied by cucumber, rocket, red onion and radish. They were slightly pickled in their dressing, which provided a lovely tartness to cut through the sweetness of the rest of the dish.
Moving on to the main event, I could not take my eyes off the braised featherblade of beef (£17.50)
A thick slice of delicious slow-cooked beef that did not really require a knife as it was like slicing through some butter. The slow cooking had given the beef the most intense flavour, it was moist succulent and moreish. A real winner, in my eyes.
Served with glazed carrots, green beans, creamed mash and jus, I devoured every morsel of this delicious combination.
I love my vegetables and I am often disappointed when I visit a restaurant and find that they haven’t really spent any time on them.
This was definitely not the case with these; the carrots and green beans were cooked to perfection with a lovely bite to them, while the creamy mash was glorious, melting in my mouth and ideal for mopping up the generous serving of delicious jus that coated the beef.
Cari had chosen chicken supreme (£16.50), which was served in Porters’ own style and not how you would imagine it. They have cleverly taken what would be a 1970s-style dish and put a modern-day spin on it.
The danger, always, with chicken is that it has dried out during the cooking – not so with this delicious, moist generous piece.
Coated in a green peppercorn sauce, there was a party going on in my mouth as I tried a piece of it.
Served with dauphinoise potatoes, blaggis (black pudding and haggis) bon bon and roasted shallots, the dish just works and I will certainly be trying it on my next visit.
The joy in it was its simplicity but full of flavour. The blaggis bon bon was crispy on the outside and melted in your mouth, while the rest of the dish was eagerly devoured by Cari, who said it was one of the best she had enjoyed.
Moving on to dessert, Cari had opted for Biscoff cheesecake (£7.50), while I really loved the sound of the selection of Scottish cheeses (£8.50).
Cari’s cheesecake looked like a picture on the plate; clearly the chef had put a great deal of thought and effort into the presentation, which was gorgeous.
And it tasted great, too. Topped with salted caramel sauce and accompanied by vanilla ice cream, this was a rich, creamy delight that delivered elation with every spoonful.
The salted caramel flavour was a masterstroke while the biscuit base delivered a delightful crunch to the smoothness of the rest of the dessert.
The selection of Scottish cheeses hit the spot for me. The combination of a lovely Brie, a blue cheese and a couple of cheddars was accompanied by house chutney, quince jelly and grapes, which was very much to my liking.
There was a plentiful selection of biscuits and oatcakes to eat with the cheese and the quince jelly and house chutney worked extremely well with the selection.
I left Porters wondering why I had taken so long to visit. Their food was outstanding when I visited, full of flavour, seasoned perfectly and presented in a delightful way.
This is a restaurant that clearly takes pride in what it is doing and trying to deliver – from front of house to the kitchen.
And if I needed any indication as to how well-regarded Porters is, it was how many times the phone rang when we were there with people eager to book a table.
I cannot wait to return and sample more of their menu, which I am sure will deliver all over again
Address: City Quay, Camperdown Street, Dundee, DD1 3JA.
Tel: 01382 225139
Price: £63.60 for two soft drinks, one starter, two mains, one dessert and cheese selection.