Sunday, 3 February 2019

Authentic Italian Cuisine at the Italian Grill, Dundee.* [AD | Gifted]

*I was gifted a meal for two in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own and 100% honest.

I love Italy. I have visited a handful of times and I just love everything about it - the culture, the weather (!), the buildings, the people, and most importantly the food. Italian food is incredible, and I seriously consider moving there just for the cuisine on a regular basis. Luckily for me, the Italian Grill has brought a piece of Italy to Scotland, in the form of their contemporary, friendly restaurant and the authentic Italian cuisine it serves!

Obviously, given my love of Italian food, I was very excited when we were invited along to the Italian Grill, a stylish, bustling restaurant in the heart of Dundee. Yes, we commuted for dinner (we were actually heading up to Aberdeen anyway so this made a perfect stop-over). The Italian Grill is situated in City Square, next to Caird Hall. The location is great - right in the centre of town, but with enough space for outdoor tables when the weather is better. We were also lucky enough to be sat next to the huge windows so we could watch the world go by. Inside, the restaurant feels very spacious and has an interesting mix of traditional and modern decor. I particularly loved the open kitchen. It felt very chilled and welcoming, and was fairly busy even on a Monday night - the sign of a well-loved restaurant!

We had the most fantastic service from the start. Our server Eilidh (if that's not her name I feel so bad!) was incredible - so friendly, knowledgeable and attentive without being intrusive. As I've said before, Blair and I are both former waiting staff so we do take note of how efficient the staff are (not that we ever were, to be honest). I was highly impressed with everyone I encountered here - every one of them had a smile on their face throughout which really helped us enjoy ourselves.

Of course, I was very keen to try out the cocktails. I tried out a Blood Orange Daiquiri (Don Q Cristal rum, Solerno liqueur, lime and cane sugar) and a Malfy Bramble (Malfy limone, Crème de Mure,  lemon and cane sugar). Both were absolutely exquisite: perfectly mixed so you weren't hit by an overpowering taste of alcohol. I also noted that the restaurant offers a Cocktail Masterclass experience, which I'd definitely like to check out. 

In terms of food, I was really spoilt for choice. Deciding between pasta and pizza is outrageously difficult for me, so it took a while! I was really pleased with the number of vegetarian options, as well as the fact that they can cater for gluten intolerances and even have a vegan mozzarella. They also were really accommodating of Blair's nut allergy and gave us a full run-down of what items on the menu were off-limits to him. It's a little thing but it makes a huge difference, especially given how often Blair decides to eat food without checking the ingredients *eye roll emoji*.

In the end, I finally settled on a starter of Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese. I absolutely love mozzarella, but buffalo mozzarella is a whole different ball game and I just cannot resist it. Thankfully, it was just as I'd hoped - creamy and delicious, with a slightly tangy taste. It was full of flavour and combined with the plum tomatoes, pesto and balsamic glaze, I was in food heaven. Blair had gone for the Confit Duck Leg Rillette, which is similar to a pâté in consistency. It was served with brioche bread and Blair said it was very tasty, with an orange topping that complemented the duck well.

For mains, I settled on the Potato Gnocchi. As you may have realised, the word 'potato' on any menu item is enough to sell me. I really enjoyed this - the dish was full of roasted winter vegetables with a creamy sauce and rocket pesto. It was a proper, hearty, winter warmer of a meal and there was absolutely loads of it - a huge portion! My only complaint would be that some of the pieces felt a little undercooked; I don't mind a 'bite' to my food but they definitely were quite hard. It was still really tasty though.

Blair, being Blair, opted for a special - a huge (!) T-bone steak. He orders his blue, as he is mad, but he said it was perfectly cooked for his tastes and was 'very nice' (he's so descriptive). He also ordered a peppercorn sauce that he raved about and steamed green veg as a side. While the meat did look very good and was well cooked, it's worth noting that sides and sauces for items from the grill are ordered separately. You do get a lot more control over your meal this way, as you basically 'create your own', which is cool.

We were absolutely stuffed by this point, and although there was a very tempting dessert list (the Nutella-filled mini doughnuts sound divine) we managed to resist. We were both very pleased with our evening at the Italian Grill, the service was fantastic, the food was great and we loved the relaxed, chilled-out feel. This would be perfect for date night, dinner with friends, or even a business meeting as it's so versatile and welcoming. It was definitely worth the drive to Dundee - and we will most certainly be popping in next time we're up there!

Do you like Italian food? What's your favourite dish?

Find the Italian Grill online:
*I was gifted a meal for two in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own and 100% honest.

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