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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fraser (Dundee)

menu: 19:13
salad: 19:21
soup: 19:29
scallops and duck: 20:01
fish e featherblade: 21:13
puddings: 21:59

It's not that we spent the entire  evening obsessively looking at our watches. But if you use a camera in a restaurant the pictures will unfailingly punctuate how long you've been bloody waiting for each dish, looking around with increasing perplexity at the apparent lack of concern of the staff.

If you look at the progression above, you will notice that the first items were almost shoved down our throats, then pacing assumed a semblance of normality, and then the kitchen obviously ground to a halt, with one and a half hours between the starter and the main. It took us over three hours to complete a regular dinner.

Fraser is a semi-professional operation in the well-to-do Dundee neighborhood of Broughty Ferry, which opens only two days a week, to allow Father to pursue his passion (it looks like, but we didn't ask, various family members are in the front of house).

All ingredients taste impeccably sourced. These scallops in particular felt fresh and also cooked well:

And  the searing of another simple starter of Barbary duck

sealed in all the juicy flavours.

These starters came after a gastronomically pointless (but nevertheless welcome by us vegetable lovers) salad, and also after a soup that was a concentrate of tomato and basil flavour.

A main of feather-blade and fillet came in monumental quantity but here the cooking skill faltered badly, the wine jus watery, the carrots sad, the meat dry, which made finishing this beautiful piece of beef a bit of a slog.

But by God the wild seabass was a beautiful piece of fish that would have been a portion for the whole table in London, its presentation was colorful  with a ginger beurre blanc lifting the dish just rightly.

The desserts, a Port poached per with cinnamon ice-cream and a ginger ice-cream with rhubarb poached in vanilla syrup were pleasantly asserive.

We'd describe the cooking here a that of a very talented amateur - which means better and more personal than that of many mediocre or soulless professional kitchens we've encountered. And as we said the ingredients are impeccable. The downfall  is one of lack of professional organisation and service.

But let's end on a high note: there are some very, very well priced wines here. We had a Gevrey Chambertin with a mark-up one million miles from those of London and Edinburgh.

Fraser could be a very good neighbourhood restaurant if it allowed you to go for a shorter meal, and if didn't force you to such epic waits and strange pacing if you go for a full one. For us personally, once we've driven an hour to arrive there, it would be hard to resist the temptation to drive another twenty minutes for the superior cuisine at Gordon's.


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