As far as a drink trend goes, I wish every day for a time machine so I could go back to 1989 and stick my hard-earned Woolworths Saturday Girl wages into a gin distillery. I’ve always been a fan of a G&T and over the years have evolved from a Gordons, Ice and a Slice (lemon to start with – there was no fancy-schmancy limes in The Lamplight circa 1991) through to Bombay Sapphire with lime, and what I once thought was the height of sophistication, Hendricks with cucumber.
No one though could have predicted the insatiable appetite that was to come for all things gin. We would bathe in the stuff given a chance! We’re now waaaaaayyyy past a bottle of schwepps and some citrusy slices and have fallen in love with elderflower, raspberries, rhubarb and ginger beer as options for mixers and fruity accompaniments. Here in Perth, we have Provender Brown keeping us well-stocked for enjoying a tipple or two at home and The Venue’s hugely popular Gin Bar for fuelling our imaginations (ginspiration?) and tastebuds with new and unique combinations.
Since opening two years ago, The Venue has fast become a hot-spot in the city centre. Gin aside, their quirky mix of mismatched furniture, relaxed atmosphere and open mic Sundays have proved popular with everyone. Tasting boards topped with cheese, meats and oatcakes have soaked up many a potential all-nighter, making us feel much, much better the next day!
Owned by Frank Burger-Seed, he of The Green Rooms success, it seems they really can do no wrong. So where do you go next when you’ve come out in a blaze of gin-soaked glory? How will he make us like them even more? Why, by feeding us of course!
That’s right – no longer content with a tasting board (delicious though they are) Frank and co have recently launched a new restaurant in The Venue. Serving up lunch and dinner, currently Tues-Sat but soon to be 7 days a week, in true Burger-Seed style things are just a little different…
“We’ve gone for social tables! So groups of two or four will be seated next to other people making the whole experience even more sociable. The idea is huge in London and has been popular in Europe for years – it seemed the right time to bring it to Perth!”
Always ones for a nosey at a new idea, Team Small City headed out one Friday night to check out this convivial way of eating! The atmosphere is very in keeping with the rest of the bar, mismatched, shabby chic with big tables for 6 lining the walls. It’s situated on the right hand side as you go in from St John’s Street so a big old space which is perfect for the idea – you don’t want to be sharing with a stranger sitting atop their knee. Well, not to start the night anyway!
We were sharing with a couple who have a coffee roasting business and the chat soon turned to my favourite subject of food and drink. All good so far! The menu was surprising; really nice fine-dining options, using locally sourced ingredients, the distinctive flair of a well-worked chef shining through the descriptions.
Gin cured salmon (obvs!), Perthshire lamb and chicken breast with haggis croquettes were just some of the choices winking up at us as we pondered our selection but I knew as soon as I saw the heritage tomatoes with goats cheese where my night was headed. Followed by sea bass and artichoke with a beurre blanc cocotte and a selection of Scottish Cheeses, I was in for the full experience!
Freshly baked bread rolls with real butter and oil dip arrived in the middle of the table and Alan, our waiter had barely time to explain they were made on the premises before greedy hands snatched at the little individual rolls on offer. For me, fresh bread and butter is one of the world’s most wonderful culinary combinations… to be beaten only by cheese and tomato. The starter was so light and fresh, multi-coloured tomatoes singing beautifully from their white picture frame plate with a whipped goats cheese and sprinkling of pea shoots for colour and an added dash of sweetness.
Plates clean, we began discussing the merits of a shared table. Would it take off – is Perth ready for it? I am a fan, it has to be said – although I obviously wouldn’t book it for a romantic night out. The Slow Food Dinners of years gone by were served like this and I like meeting new people and finding out what they’ve got going on in their lives. It’s like being on holiday; but in Perth! However, it’s not for everyone and if you’re out with a group of old friends you may want to gossip about things you’d rather strangers didn’t hear! Not a problem apparently – simply let them know when you book and you’ll be sat on your own.
The seabass arrived, all crispy skinned on one side and flaky, fresh meat on the other. I love artichokes and this didn’t disappoint with a light but creamy buerre blanc drizzled through the veg. The chicken and haggis was a huge hit with Gary sitting next to me and we all agreed, the food was every bit as good as the gin!
I went for cheese - which was nothing but greed really – but my fellow diners all sampled the homemade desserts, from which the dark chocolate tia maria ganache was voted the star of the show. The spoon must have been passed round about half a dozen times.
This is everything you’d expect from Frank; quirky, imaginative and done well. But it is also everything you wouldn’t expect: a real restaurant menu (I had predicted tapas), really good wine list and waiters in tweed waistcoats and collars. I’ll certainly be back – and RG is already looking forward to having someone else there to soak up my chat about retiring to a gin distillery!
The Venue Restaurant is currently open Tues-Sat for lunch and dinner, soon to be seven days a week.
LUNCH : A more relaxed affair with ciabattas, soup and homemade burgers on offer.
DINNER: Fresh Scottish fare from local suppliers cooked with skill.
Both menus are changed fortnightly- for up to date dishes follow their Facebook page>
Full contact details for The Venue can be found on our directory>
Perth Festival of the Arts has joined forces with its 2020 artists to create a 10-day online celebration to ‘celebrate the arts together'.
May 21st Thursday 2020
Dougie Maclean's new Perthshire festival this summer: Cardney Concerts.
March 18th Wednesday 2020
Party at The Park, the South Inch, 27th and 28th June, will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans and many more!
March 12th Thursday 2020