Those of you who also have birthday’s in January will understand my frustration. Not only is my birthday far too near Christmas, when you want to celebrate, you find that many of your favourite chefs are on holiday. Not that I begrudge them a break, but why does it have to be January? We were exceptionally pleased to discover that 63 Tay Street in Perth was open.
Local, Honest, Simple
It’s about an hour’s very easy drive from Edinburgh. We later discovered that many regulars hop on the train from Inverness and Edinburgh to enjoy one of Graeme Pallister’s feasts. Those living further away can take a wee break and stay at the Parklands Hotel. Graeme is executive chef at the hotel which is located just 5 minutes away.
There are times when you eat out when you just want comfort food. But that’s not what birthdays are about. On Saturdays at 63 Tay Street, there’s a set menu priced at £39.50 and it is exceptional value. We discovered dishes that we wouldn’t cook at home, and that is what made them blissful. Graeme Pallister, owner and head chef, creates seasonal led dishes that bring together familiar tastes with a touch of the exotic. It might be a little star anise, or a touch of mango. Subtle additions that bring out the flavour of the dish.
My one frustration about the evening, was that all the photos I had taken were terrible (blame the photographer). I was determined to share the dishes with you somehow. A few months later, Brendan MacNeill and I are invited to lunch and the chance to watch Graeme create a dish. Brendan and I didn’t talk a lot over lunch, just “mmmed” and “aahed” over the dishes. If you pressed me to choose a favourite dish from the 4 courses, it would be the carpaccio of smoked haddock, chopped duck egg and curry that pipped the post. Graeme later told us that it had gone on the menu for the first time the previous day. “It was an idea that came to me really quickly”. It was beautifully full of fresh flavours with a hint of the unexpected.
Chef creates Cockles and Ham Hock Stew
Sated with our lunch, we’re invited into Graeme’s small kitchen. It’s very difficult to imagine how he and his sous chef cook and serve a full service, there is so little room! The key it seems is a huge amount of preparation in advance, with dishes being brought together right at the last moment. Graeme lets us into the secrets of how he brings a dish together.
Growing up in the south of England, I only encountered cockles and whelks at the seaside, very liberally doused with malt vinegar. Fine if you like malt vinegar, but you’d be hard put to identify the taste of the shellfish. Suffice to say, if you’re fond of mussels, you’ll love cockles. They’re cooked in a similar way, very quickly, until the shells open. You’re left with a tasty morsel of “meat” and a savoury broth. I think we’ll be seeing more of these on the menu.
Each element of the dish was ready and set out – the mise en place:
- Pre-set polenta
- Red wine reduction – a reduction of fish stock, red wine and root vegetables
- A slice of parma ham,
- Ham sausage – poached ham hock bound with fragrant chicken mousse
- Celery, carrots and shallots slowly cooked with garlic and thyme
- Purple sprouting broccoli cockle stock.
It was time to build the dish. As you’ll see in the video, Graeme sets out several pans on the stove and adds the separate ingredients, and with precision timing readies each ingredient. In just a few minutes, it’s time to plate up, adding the ham first and gently placing each ingredient. It’s ready, Cockle and ham hock stew with polenta. If only you could smell how good it is!
Visit 63 Tay Street soon, you’ll find a very warm welcome and exceptional food. Thank you chef for letting us visit your kitchen.
Find out more
63 Tay Street
Restaurant dining is provided 5 days a week Tuesday to Saturday.
Lunch served Thursday till Saturday 12.00 — 2.00pm
Pre-theatre dinner served Tuesday till Friday 5.45 — 6.30pm
Dinner served Tuesday till Saturday 6.30 — 9.00pm