You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the way its reception team operates.
A smile can go a long way, as can asking questions and helping diners who look a bit confused on arrival – like me when I visited the Newport restaurant in Fife a few weeks ago.
I don’t know if it was the look of confusion or amazement on my face as I walked through the side entrance that the bar staff immediately timed. I hadn’t visited since their renovations so was surprised by the sleek new look of the bar.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve tasted the squid ink upstairs at Jamie Scott’s glorious three-story restaurant, but I was very supportive of this new and improved look nodding to the coastline local.
When you walk in, it’s the reminder of the comforts of home that hits first. The natural colors that complement the landscape are a reminder of the restaurant’s proximity to the Tay and there is plenty of greenery that helps bring the outdoors in.
The person making the drinks behind the bar had already called a colleague of his to greet us before I even managed to open my mouth.
A warm welcome it was too, with conversation flowing as we walked through the restaurant from the ground floor to the upper floor.
The table we were seated at was a long wooden table made from a piece of driftwood and offered the most epic views of the Tay across the water. To make sure we both had the perfect view, I joined my colleague, whom I had invited, on the other side of the table where we could overlook the rest of the dining room and the water.
Our server for the night was the lovely Evie. What stands out most about Evie is her passionate personality. She seemed genuinely interested in us and had so much knowledge of the menu that I felt very reassured that Mariam’s dietary needs would be met.
She had asked about allergens and dietary requirements early on, and also recommended mocktails for both of us. I took her suggestion from the Ambassador’s assistant – a cloudy apple juice drink with honey and lime (£6). My dining partner opted for the French Mocktini (£6) with elderflower syrup, cranberry and pineapple.
The mocktails are really hit or miss, so when the drinks came back looking as good as the alcoholic versions you’d usually expect to find at a top bar, we were thrilled.
Sampling the new spring/summer three-course market menu, there were only two options on each course.
Snacks kick off your meal and consisted of sourdough from The Newport Bakery with butter from Edinburgh Butter Co. and a puff of tinned truffles.
The bread was served hot with an array of oils and butters, and we lathered up as much as we could to really indulge in all of their flavors.
The special thing was the bite-sized puff of truffle. I could have eaten an entire platter of them, popping each one in my mouth like little candies because they tasted so good. Evie also commented on how much she loves them and talked about having to fight her temptation to want them throughout the service.
The soft interior with the sweeter pastry wrapper and savory filling was just delicious.
Starters featured one of my favorite dishes of the night and probably the best smoked Arbroath dish I’ve had.
Served with a crispy potato terrine on the side which was perfect for dipping, the beer vinegar and pea soup and emulsion was amazing.
The fish itself was incredibly soft, but the velouté was light and airy and full of flavor.
The potato had been fried and had a light crispy crunch that followed the chewy layers of the tuber.
The other starter was Denhead asparagus and my dining partner did comment that the asparagus had been cooked.
Served with black garlic mayonnaise and emulsion, homemade ricotta and small rye crisps that added crunch, this dish was delicious. The sunflower and sorrel pesto was complemented well by the asparagus which had been seasoned with lemon and garlic. It was just cooked and the dots of fermented white asparagus finished it off.
There was a slight break between each course which we both enjoyed.
Mariam and I worked together for months, but we had missed out on quality time working from home and in different cities, and the Newport restaurant seemed like the perfect place to celebrate our meeting.
Evie kept watching us and kept refilling our water glasses.
Our mains consisted of lamb from Myreside Farm and hake landed from Peterhead.
The lamb was mine and was delicious. A small piece was enough and the braised neck was magnificent. The wild garlic wasn’t as potent as I would have thought, and the roasted cauliflower added a whole new texture to the mix.
Evie poured the green pepper sauce over the meat. It was delicious and the peppercorns popped in my mouth as I bit into it.
The hake was equally enjoyable, with spring leeks and anchovy emulsion and mussel sauce, all placed on one plate.
The meaty fish sat next to the cooked leek which was topped with the mussel sauce. Again it was nicely presented and the piece of fish was quite large so made to eat enough.
Once our plates were cleared, we only had a short wait until dessert.
We had decided to share them so that we could both taste the sweet and savory dishes.
The sweet consisted of local strawberries from Seahills Farm, clotted cream, sweet cicely and tonka bean ice cream.
It was a small work of art that we were very eager to immerse ourselves in.
When we took our first spoonful we decided we should have started with the savory option and put our spoons down to tackle the cheese platter.
The selection of three cheeses included a blue, a manchego and a cheddar, as well as a ramekin of honeycomb and another of chutney on the side.
Biscuits, crispbread and other goodies from Newport Bakery accompanied the cheese and provided the perfect vessel to garnish it.
The honeycomb was one of my favorite parts and I put it over the manchego on a crusty bun and devoured the whole thing. The blue cheese wasn’t too spicy and although it’s not usually the one I choose, I still enjoyed it.
To end the meal, we tasted a blood orange petit four delivered by Evie, which was a pleasant surprise.
The hard chocolate outer shell has been beautifully painted. The primary colors on a base of white stood out boldly, but it was the hint of blood orange jelly hiding inside that was incredibly sweet and full of flavor.
There’s something about ending a great meal with a bit of chocolate that really appeals to me.
While the setting of Newport Restaurant is an elegant and sophisticated place that puts its food at the center of its offering, it’s the service, the smiling faces that boast impeccable knowledge of every dish and ingredient, that makes you feel like you to be in the safest hands.
No request was too big and Evie completely made our evening with her attentiveness and friendly personality.
The mocktails were also worth writing home and although there are only two options per course, the fact that the venue can easily accommodate allergens and dietary requirements makes it easy to navigate.
Address: 1 High Street, Newport-on-Tay DD6 8AB
P: 01382 541449
Price: £37.50 per person
- Food: 5/5
- Performance: 5/5
- Environment: 5/5
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[The Newport Restaurant’s spring/summer market menu]