Jute Cafe Bar, Dundee – United Kingdom

Toberlone Martini - yummy!Having arrived back from Singapore recently (with jet-lag killing me much more than usual this trip) I managed to bag a precious night out with MrsTravelFreak while calling on granny to entertain the JuniorTravelFreaks.

We were all set for an afternoon of shopping (MrsTravelFreak’s idea) and drinking (my idea) along with a fancy meal out in Auld Reekie (Edinburgh for the uneducated), when we discovered that there was engineering works on the railway line and that a bus replacement service was in operation.  I despise travelling by bus and I despise the fact that ‘they’ had to pick this weekend to perform the engineering works.  I mean, well really!  After some discussion with Mrs TravelFreak we agreed that Dundee was the only real option available to us.

I don’t know a lot about Dundee really other than:

  • It’s cold
  • Dundonians (people from Dundee) call roundabouts ‘circles’ which is a little weird
  • There are always, always roadworks happening right in the middle of the city

We left the train station and found ourselves in the middle of a building site.  Having eventually found somewhere for MrsTravelFreak to shop, I decided it was time for an afternoon libation.  A quick Google search for ‘cocktails Dundee’ came up with very few results; Jute it seemed, was the best option.

Jute is situation in Dundee Contemporary Arts, which is a very short walk from the main shopping centre.  It’s an art gallery on top with a funky café bar and restaurant underneath.  There are two cinema screens here and the only beer garden in Dundee that is licensed until midnight, although given that the outside temperature was 3 degrees during our visit, we didn’t try this out!

When we arrived I noticed a few things; the bar was busy with the average age of the clientèle being over 35, there were a lot of staff available to look after said punters, and people were drinking cocktails.  It wasn’t even 5pm yet and there was a fair mix of drinks on the go ranging from coffee to beer, wine and the odd spirit and mixer too.  It immediately felt like a very easy-going sort of place where anything was cool.

I approached the bar and ordered two Mojitos.  I was asked which flavour I wanted with my choices being Apple, Raspberry, Elderflower and Classic.  I opted for one Apple and one Raspberry and was asked where I was sitting.  I offered my credit card for the bar tab but was told with a shake of the head that it wasn’t required; I sat back down.

The cocktails arrived quickly and were really very good!  They were served in huge glasses with plenty of crushed ice, mint, and of course, booze.  MrsTravelFreak loved her Raspberry Mojito (drinking it all in what seemed like seconds) but it was a little sweet for me.  My Apple Mojito was perfect for me, much less sweet, although MrsTravelFreak thought it tasted a little artificial.

Having enjoyed our first drinks, we decided to order some more; a quick nod to one of the servers resulted in the cocktail menu being presented. There was a selection of maybe 12 drinks; all charged at £6.50 which I thought was very reasonable.  I ordered an Apple and Raspberry Martini while MrsTravelFreak ordered the signature cocktail – a Tolberone Martini.

Watching the server bring our drinks over it was clear almost immediately that MrsTravelFreak had made an excellent choice.  Both Martini glasses were huge and MrsTravelFreak’s had Frangelico, Khalua, Baileys, chocolate and cream mixed together to create a very special ‘grown up milkshake’.  It was devoured super-fast and while MrsTravelFreak agrees that she couldn’t have slurped it all night, she was more than happy to have another. We had a final round of cocktails before we left; a Mai Tai and something a bit more manly; both were of the same high standards as the drinks before.

During our cocktail extravaganza, the table next to ours ordered some tapas.  The waiter had informed them that as the restaurant was fully booked, there would be a delay of around 30 minutes for the food.  This turned out to be only 20 minutes and the food looked, and smelled, pretty good.

I felt that the bill of £39 for six cocktails was more than reasonable given the excellent quality of the drinks and the fast service.  Premium spirits were used here (e.g Skyy vodka in the Martini’s) and the cocktails were made properly with care.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of choice for cocktails in Dundee, but Jute seem to have it just right with a huge selection of draught beers, what seemed like good food, and excellent cocktails.  I wonder when the next set of engineering work on the train is scheduled?

Jute Café Bar, Dundee Contemporary Arts, 152 Nethergate, Dundee.  Website.

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