Bird & Bear hits the spot and perfectly showcases what Dundee’s pubs have to offer

DC Thomson ©

Since moving to Dundee two years ago, Bird & Bear has been a regular haunt of mine for weekend and post-work drinks.

With a wide selection of craft beers, interesting gins and a great setting, it has quickly become one of my favourite bars in the city.

However, the Waterfront pub is not simply a boozer and – much to my shame – I had not eaten in it until my dad recently headed east to pay me a visit.

After acting as my own personal Sherpa and carrying my prized possessions, some old records, up the three flights of stairs to my flat, I think he had earned his keep.

So much so, I thought I would return the favour and show him the way to a few libations and some scran to cap a job well done.

Having previously whetted our whistles in another local establishment, in high spirits we limbered through the city centre down to the striking Bird & Bear building.

Curving round from Whitehall Crescent on to Dock Street, its rich blue facade, hanging baskets and tall white windows lure you in instantly.

Inside, the wildlife theme becomes apparent with hanging birdcages adorning the ceiling, plants dotted around the room and the bear logo emblazoned everywhere.

The long, sleek, elegant bar has caught my eye many a time and enticed me to make my move.

However, I was on a mission and this time food was the order of the day.

Upstairs we went to the seated balcony area overlooking the busy Friday night crowd as it swelled and buzzed.

Through the windows, we were greeted with an even better view out on to the River Tay beyond the shore.

This only seemed to whet our appetite for seafood as Arbroath smokie arancini with creamed leeks (£6.95) and mixed pakoras with pickled red onion, cucumber, chutney and house raita (£4.95) were chosen to start.

My pakoras were crunchy outside but cloud-like in the middle and packed a little spicy kick.

Easily cooled by the refreshing cucumber and raita dips, or ramped up by the chutney and red onion, they were tasty wee morsels.

In the interest of being thorough, I just had to have a bite of my dad’s arancini.

Essentially crispy deep-fried Italian rice balls filled with fresh and fishy Arbroath smokie, they were a delight.

For main, it was yet more fish for us.

I ordered the catch of the day special sea bass with roasted veg (£11) and my dad the beer battered Scottish haddock with hand cut chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce (£12).

With crispy, fried skin and flaky, meaty flesh, the sea bass lived up to my high standards for the dish – a personal favourite. Served on a bed of roasted veg, almost ratatouille-like in its consistency, it balanced the freshness of the fish well with earthy, hearty vegetables and tomatoes.

Without trying the haddock, it certainly looked and sounded good as my dad crunched away. The homemade chips left lying on his plate at the end were very swiftly snaffled, however.

With neither of us having a sweet tooth, we skipped dessert and went straight to the drinks menu.

We opted for the Mediterranean Gin Mare with Fever-Tree Indian tonic (£5.90). Two each washed down the food during and after the meal and cleansed our palates nicely.

Bird & Bear certainly hit the spot and showcased perfectly what Dundee’s pubs have to offer in terms of affordable and fresh, delicious food.

I think rather than a kebab on the stumble home, from now on I will start ordering some food with my drinks.