Stepping into this transformed establishment is like stepping into a trendy microbrewery – the bare brick, concrete bar fascia and exposed aluminium pipework enhance the cool, industrial, Shoreditch feel.
This is Innis & Gun’s second Beer Kitchen, the first being in Edinburgh and there are plans to launch in Glasgow.
There is a real drive, we were told, to focus on local sourcing – from beer to food to staff, who are all from the Dundee area and are encouraged to everything on offer so they can help with recommendations (the beer menu alone is five pages long).
Before we were even seated, we were offered (and naturally accepted) a taste of the Innis & Gunn crisp and light lager, stored in large metal casks in the window and piped to the bar.
The tastings continued after we sat down, not just from the house range but from other Scottish beers on draft and all of the staff were eager to engage and knowledgeable about the vast selection.
Turning to the food, I quickly opted for the rosemary sage roasted cauliflower croquettes with Isle of Mull Cheddar and chilli jam to start.
I’m glad the croquette has made a return – the crunch, the oozieness, the guilt-ridden satisfaction but the Beer Kitchen’s version didn’t quite do it for me.
Although clearly home-made, deep-fried and golden, there was no coating on the croquette and therefore nothing to make it crunchy. It was, in short, a sack which, once pierced, unenthusiastically produced the cauliflower cheese mixture.
Luckily, the uninspiring filling was lifted by the accompanying chilli jam which packed a punch.
Our other starter, haggis donut with smoked bone-marrow aioli and crispy leeks, was exactly as described – a crispy-on-the-outside-doughy-in-the-middle donut with haggis at the centre and was a hit with my other half.
I’d decided to go for the corn-fed chicken (£13.50) from the “smoked and slow” section of the menu.
More jus would have really added to this dish as chicken and mash can be dry and the gravy serving was meagre.
That said, the smoked wing had a pleasing vanilla sweetness, the breast was succulent and the smoked garlic mash was satisfyingly indulgent, its deep, rich flavour providing another dimension to the dish.
My dining partner went for the smoked and slow braised ham hock, chicken, leek and White Oak Wheat Beer pie and was not disappointed.
The pie arrived in an enamel dish with a golden puffy lid over a salty, creamy and richly comforting filling.
The accompanying seasonal vegetables were buttery and sweet and this dish was the winner for us – ideal for when you realise you’ve been sitting in the Beer Kitchen for a couple of hours, tasting more of the ales than you had intended to and suddenly feel the need to soak up the hops.
Our side order of tomato, red onion, basil and walnut salad arrived without basil or red onions and with lettuce and feta but by then we were too busy fighting over the last forkful of the pie to be that bothered by the slip-up.
Although my partner’s conversation is obviously hilarious and enthralling, I paid attention to the plates of food that happened to pass by our table.
The burger topped with Innis & Gunn pulled pork looked incredibly good and the clean wooden serving boards returning to the kitchen seemed evidence that it was.
For a Monday night the place had a cosy atmosphere and I can imagine there being a real buzz at the weekend. I look forward to returning for a few more schooners and sampling more of the food.
Price: Starters from £3.75-£5; mains from £10-£11.50; desserts from £4.75-£6.75