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---None of your beeswax!---
Valentines Day: A soppy, unromantic excuse for a million and ten places to cash in on your fear of not showing the one you love that you love them. That's generally my view on it and up to the date it had been made clear I don't care for it to my partner of 8 months. Then I noticed the nearer we got to the date he was actually yearning for a little bit of romance on the day. Being quite a romantic sop, I decided to throw my hatred for the day out the window and surprise him. I snuck into his house with some presents (which almost caused him to have a heart attack when he came home to find his doors unlocked) and booked a table at a lovely little restaurant called "Nosey Parkers".
---Picking your nose---
Nosey Parkers is situated in the Queens Hotel in Dundee at the bottom of the Perth road. There is plenty parking near-by, if you are lucky you'll get a free space rather than a pay and display one, but that's not always possible. If you need any sort of disabled access, all you need to do is ring the restaurant in advance and they will put ramps out over the stairs for you (coincidentally, I found that out by emailing them and they got back to me instantly, score on customer service!) Rather than being at the front of the building in view of the main road, the dining area is in a very private area at the back of the building.
It's a fairly posh restaurant, with an interesting décor: lots of black and white caricatures of people with giant noses are on the walls, the curtains have some large print flowers on them that match with the red and blue colour theme they have chosen. The tables are always gorgeously set with some flowers, cutlery for anything you could imagine and a candle in the middle. You'll also find a real fabric napkin folded up in front of you. How classy!
---Oi, Big nose---
It's quite a small restaurant with no more than about 20 tables but they have plenty of space; they could probably fit about another 10 tables in if they wanted to replicate the buffet mentality of "fit as many in as we can". Thankfully they choose not to, meaning there is plenty space to move round the place and even when it's full to capacity - as it was on valentine- it doesn't feel like you are bashing against everyone else in there. Though I may have accidentally stood on some woman's handbag she'd ever so politely left lying in the middle of the floor on the way back from the toilet (I hope she had breakables in it, I really do.)
It is also a very quiet restaurant. They only ever play relaxing instrumental music quietly in the background. Couple that with the small amount of tables and it can feel a little bit tense to start with if you don't like people over hearing your conversations. I find once the meal comes I no longer care.
The toilets are very easy to access too, being just outside the main door into the restaurant. Very clean, very tidy. Enjoyable as a toilet legally should be. The only thing this restaurant doesn't really cater for is kids. There didn't seem to be any children's menus kicking about, there are no play areas within sight and it's a quiet restaurant so I don't think it would be any good taking children there. Not an issue for me since I don't own any of those little people, but it may be for others. Personally I'd suggest getting a baby sitter and treating yourself!
---Have a nosey at the menu---
They have a tonne of different menus depending on when you are dining. As well as your normal Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner menus you can also choose to book a Pre-theatre dinner(it's right down the road from the theatre), Graduation (Dundee is a city full of students) or a Valentines Dinner. Each of the extra menus tends to be a reduced version of the full Dinner menu, but you also get some sort of deal on the price. The valentines menu, for example, was £20 per person for three courses and was only missing the most expensive items from the main menu. We saved about £3.85 on the meal we had by taking the three courses from this menu, which isn't a lot, but you can't really grumble that it's cheaper.
The full menu which you can find on their website (www.noseyparkers-dundee.com/) has a decent range of food, without giving you reams of choice. I prefer menus that don't give you everything and the kitchen sink as I get the impression if they do too much food that they can't possibly be cooking it all right.
---What our noses chose for starters---
One of the upsides of no longer being single is that you can choose the smelly, garlic and onion laden foods and not have to worry too much about potentially meeting the man of your dreams with halitosis hovering around in the background. Bearing that in mind, we both went for a "trio of garlic bread" (pictured) normally £4.65.
Before the dish arrived, we were presented with a choice of brown or white bread and some butter to keep us from going starving, no extra charge. We both went for the brown bread and it was absolutely delicious, lovely and soft and tasted home made. Nothing like being impressed with the bread you get before your meal!
The garlic itself came served on lovely rectangular plates and was, as expected, three slices and a little salad. Each slice of garlic bread, however, came with a different topping, the first being olives, the second being sundried tomatoes and the third was red pepper. Each slice had a little cheese on top and was perfectly cooked, soft and buttery in the middle with just enough garlic and a lovely crunchy crust. The difference in the toppings kept your attention on the food by presenting you with a different flavour for each slice, which was lovely. Normally I get bored half way through a dish and just start shovelling it back. I savoured every bit of this dish. Allan (my man) also scoffed the lot with a smile on his face. Coincidentally, the dish is also suitable for vegetarians. Ten out of ten for starters!
---Main Meal for my Main Man---
After our plates were cleared by the incredibly polite and friendly waiting staff, our main meal took no more than five minutes to arrive on our table. After the starter being so delicious, we were both eager to tuck in. Allan ordered chicken and beef fajitas (normally 12.95) and I went with the 8oz sirloin steak (normally 14.85)
Allan's meal came with about 7 or 8 small tortilla wraps, a dish of chicken, beef and vegetables (peppers, onions etc) cooked in spices. Three other dishes containing salsa, guacamole and sour cream with a hint of chives were lined up neatly next to it. I was a little worried as Allan can be quite fussy with beef. If it's chewy in the slightest or has any fat on it, he won't touch it. He's even been known to reject meat that's been in the slow cooker all day because it's got fat on it and is therefore too chewy. Thankfully, the beef must have been perfectly cooked, and he happily munched his way through the lot! He said a couple of times how lovely it was so, I'm giving it ten points on his behalf. That and I've eaten there before and had that dish, so I know how lovely they are. They also do a vegetarian version of this meal if you are that way inclined.
---Talking bout... my main meal (oooooo)---
While Allan was working his way through his meal, I was tucking into mine. Sirloin steak, medium rare. I'm drooling just thinking about it. It came with six cherry tomatoes still on the vine, a small helping of salad and a small bowl of thick cut chips. Steak is something that is incredibly hard to impress me with as I was brought up on it by a family who can cook their meat properly. A lot of places in Dundee think that the difference between rare, medium and well done is the colour of the stick they put in it at the end. To my delight (I would say surprise, but I wasn't surprised at all) the steak was cooked perfectly. Pink in the middle, no blood, lovely and moist, cooked on the outside. Even the fat on the steak was delicious and soft with a lovely grilled flavour to it. The tomatoes on the vine were also perfectly cooked, hot right through but not burst or shrivelled. After mopping up my drool, I battled my way through my humongous steak. I won over the steak but decided to leave the chips. They were lovely too, but I wanted to leave a little room for desert.
---Nosey Parkers get their Deserts---
Allan had already started his day feeling not incredibly hungry so he bowed to defeat and had a coffee rather than a desert (£1.80). He's a bit of a coffee connoisseur and he loved it. They served it with a little bowl of sugar cubes, milk in a little jug and two luxurious chocolates. It all looked very pretty.
I, being a total glutton, decided to go for the Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Baked Cheesecake. It came served with some chocolate sauce drizzled round the plate and a scoop of some lovely smooth vanilla ice cream garnished with a single mint leaf, sitting on top of some cream. The cheesecake was very thick and luxurious but not overpoweringly sweet. It, in short, was bloody delicious. By the time I got to the end of the slice I had only just started to struggle with my food. The only things that really went to waste on the evening were most of my salad and half of my chips from my main meal.
In true Nosey Parker style, I couldn't help but over hear some conversations around us and managed to pick up some handy information from doing so. An older couple behind us had struggled to eat their meal and so asked one of the waitresses if they could put the leftovers in a doggy bag to take home with them. The waitress advised this wouldn't be a problem and promptly packaged their meal up for them. I don't know of a lot of restaurants in this area that would consider doing that so I thought that was brilliant.
Another tip I've picked up is that if you work for HMRC you get 10% discount on the bill. This might also apply to other big employers so you might want to ask if you are booking a table. This discount, however, doesn't apply on special menus such as the Valentines one. If I had been sensible I would have realised this sooner and saved myself about 80 pence more on the final bill!
They have a fully stocked bar on the premises, so you should be able to get a little of your favourite tipple to go with your meal, though I did think that the drinks prices were a little on the high side, I was over £3 for a blue WKD and that, my friends, is not acceptable in Dundee. All together, Allan's vodka and lemonade, my blue WKD and one glass of lemonade added an extra £7.50 to the bill. You will find a jug of iced water on your table if you prefer not to pay any extra for your meal. Given the excellent service and quality of the food though, I wasn't too bothered by the price of the drinks.
Talking of the service, both myself and Allan were really pleased with how polite, happy and friendly all the staff were. They really went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. They were also prompt bringing the meals out. Our three courses took just over an hour to be ordered, served and eaten. Basically I had nothing at all to complain about other than the weird guy who sat in the corner reading a newspaper in what appeared to be a tracksuit while not ordering anything. Very bizarre indeed he was.
The only other thing that seemed a bit odd to me was when I came to pay the bill. If you are paying by card, you have to go out of the restaurant and to the hotel reception as they don't have a card reader in the restaurant. While it's not an issue for me, it might be for others with more limited access as you have to go up a small set of stairs. They do have wheelchair access though, so I'd assume there would be ramps set out for you if you needed to pay by card.
---Wind your nose in---
So, three courses and £47.50 later, both my self and Allan left very pleased after a truly wonderful evening together. Our first valentines day together was certainly a good one and the waitress even let us take our table number home as a souvenir, we thought it was strangely apt as we were at table number 14. I've been back a few times since and it's kept up to standard. If you are ever...lucky... enough to be in Dundee, I'd suggest you give this gorgeous bistro a try!