My adopted hometown of Dundee has changed so much since I moved here five years ago, and whist I totally acknowledge that some of that change hasn’t necessarily been for the best, a lot of it has been really great for the city. To me, one of the top things about the rapidly changing face of Dundee has been the diversification of places to eat and drink here, both in the centre and in the West End. With all these new bars and restaurants popping up all over the place – and seeing as though eating and drinking are some of my favourite things to do – I figured that now would be the perfect time for a few food and drink reviews.
My husband and I went to the Underdog Dundee vegan restaurant recently, a 100% plant based bar which has taken up residence in the building that used to house the D’arcy Thompson on Old Hawkhill. We’ve been meaning to visit Underdog since it opened last year, every time we’ve passed by we have said how it looked like somewhere we’d enjoy, plus the food they put up on their Instagram always looks so colourful and delicious.
Finally one Friday evening Andrew booked us a table, and when we arrived we were greeted warmly before being shown to a pleasant table underneath a huge neon pink light (which is why all the photographs in this article look like they have a pink filter on them). It was relatively quiet at first, but the atmosphere was warm and laid back, then as the other tables filled up around us the vibe only improved. Everything about it seemed relaxed; the seating is comfortable, the tables are roomy, the layout felt cozy yet private, and – crucially – it’s not an intimidating place in the slightest.
I was chuffed to see the varied drinks menu, they’ve got most bases covered and it’s all vegan of course. I went with one of the beers they had on tap, Mandarina Sky, a double dry hopped hazy IPA by one of my other local favourites, 71 Brewing. My husband was delighted with their enviably stocked fridges, and sampled a couple of the cans. Thankfully we weren’t pressured to hurry up as we decided what to eat, whilst the choice of food is not extensive I still found it difficult to settle on something when it all sounded so tasty.
Once we had ordered our starter arrived in good time. We shared the nachos which came loaded with melty beer cheese and jalapeños. They were served in a skillet on a wooden board with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole on the side. The portion was perfect for the two of us to pick at while we waited for the main event. We absolutely demolished them in record time, every element was great.
I already knew before we’d booked a table that I was going to get the Katsu loaded fries, then I chose the Italian job burger based on the menu description. The fries did not disappoint, I was concerned that I’d hyped them up too much in my mind but I needn’t have worried as they immediately became one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The combination of flavours was absolutely bang on, the sushi ginger especially made it all sing. The Italian job burger gave me slight pause at it was essentially mozzarella sticks in a soft burger bun. I enjoyed it, but I was a tad disappointed. Especially after the high standards of the starter and the side.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an ice cream sundae after a meal in a restaurant, but as we were having such a nice time we decided to get one each for dessert. I plumped for Oreo, Andrew got salted caramel, both were gorgeous… and massive! I’ve never had vegan ice cream before so the texture and taste felt slightly different than I’d expected – almost oaty if I had to guess – but it was really impressive. I absolutely hate the concept of milk in general and avoid a lot of dairy, so in future I’d reach for non-dairy ice cream based on this experience.
There are two main entrances to Underdog, both with double doors that can be opened to accommodate wheelchairs. However both have a step up from street level to get in with the left hand entrance step being sightly shallower. The toilets are not accessible as they are through a narrow corridor with a tight turn and more steps, I struggled with that even though I was having a fairly good pain day and not using my stick. There is no disabled toilet.
We had such a lovely experience at Underdog Dundee vegan restaurant, it was laid back with a nice vibe, and we left happy. The food menu isn’t massive, but what they offer they do very well. Besides, I’d rather have a smaller selection of great sounding dishes than an endless mediocre menu to choose from. I felt slightly let down by the burger I chose, but I’m taking that one on the chin as it’s down to my own misunderstanding about what it was. The lack of a disabled toilet was upsetting.
I’d love to make a return visit; the fancy hotdogs all sound very appealing and I’m keen to make a start on the cocktail menu which looks fun. What left the biggest impression on me were the katsu loaded fries, I’m fairly certain I’ll get them every time I go, they were a revelation alongside my new found love affair with vegan ice cream.
To that end I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Underdog Dundee to anyone, with the accessibility limitations in mind: if you can, go and check it out, get the katsu loaded fries, and take a picture next to the big pink neon sign. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like it.