I went to the V&A Dundee, and all I got was a badge with the word “potato” (blame the artist David Shrigley) written on it.
The building is exciting – slightly forbidding from the exterior, but, inside, you feel as if you’re in a supersized yurt lined with marmalade-coloured wood.
We enjoyed the permanent display of design treasures, but felt a bit seasick about the £12 admission to see temporary exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, especially since I’d already spent £2.99 on my badge.
And, since it was fully booked at their first floor restaurant, Tatha Bar and Kitchen, we had to take our Titanic-sized appetites elsewhere.
From the waterside flank of the V&A, look across the Tay and you can see the whitewashed pub/restaurant/hotel that is The Newport, whose young chef patron, Jamie Scott, won MasterChef: The Professionals in 2014. More recently, it was awarded AA Restaurant of the Year 2018-19.
We crossed over the bridge, pulled into the car park and wondered if we were in the right place.
Unless there’s another entrance that we’d missed, you have to cut through the bar to get in. That meant walking across the boozers’ line of sight while they were watching the sport on the telly. They loved us.
Once you’re through the right door, with its porthole, there’s a stripped back vibe. No white linen, or anything fancy, apart from tulips on the table, and blackboards with cocktail descriptions stencilled on.
It’s as low-fi as any £25 a main course restaurant I’ve been to.
However, I guess it’s all about the direct view across the water, which is lovely. The menu also reads beautifully.
From the To Start section, we tried treacle cured beef (£11), which came as a large saucer of tartare.
This malty meat was mixed with seeds and tiled with petals of pickled mushroom and carrot, nasturtium leaves, and blobs of velvety smoked mayonnaise. I doubt there’s a better way to get your iron fix.
My Scrabster monkfish (£13) was subtle and breezily light, like a silk head scarf you might wear on the deck of The Love Boat, with three pieces of fish and a creamy spume, some sweet fennel jam, a few buttery mussels, stubs of salsify and sea purslane.
The Ardgay venison (£28) main course I’d chosen from The Middle list featured two cross sections of venison loin, which were very petite but beautiful, with crystals of sea salt along their grain.
They came with carrot, squash, some black cabbage and other savoy cabbage-y bits. However, as someone who could sniff out a leftover Celebration down the back of a neighbour’s sofa, I couldn’t detect the “bitter chocolate” ingredient that had been billed. Maybe my choc-dar is on the blink.
Our Scrabster cod (£25) main, served on a plate that had ridges like a cockle shell, starred a flaxen skinned piece of fish along with parsley root crisps, carrots, and bits of bone marrow in the jus. All lovely, apart from the clutch of dense and dry gnocchi.
My pudding was the best thing. It was titled “tagh mi suas” (£9) – Gaelic for “pick me up” and, thus, was a take on tiramisu.
The only problem with eating in a MasterChef winner’s restaurant is that you can imagine Gregg Wallace going all googly over the desserts. This would get a slurpy suck of saliva, followed by a “laaah-vly”.
Making up for the absence of choccy in my starter, it consisted of a shiny dome of Edinburgh’s Chocolate Tree cocoa-ness, filled with a transparent coffee gel that had been hewn with beans from Sacred Grounds in Arbroath.
And, there was a contrastingly savoury scoop of Katy Rodger’s crowdie on the side. Our seabuckthorn tart (£8) featured a sort of curd filled tart, with its potential citrus werscht-ness softened by sweetness.
It was topped by a perfectly burnished teepee of Italian meringue and came with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
All wonderful, though the tagh mi suas is the creation that could really get a spot in the V&A gallery.
I could be persuaded to fork out a £12 admission fee for that.
1 High Street, Newport-on-Tay
(01382 541 449, www.thenewportrestaurant.co.uk)