“ Address: 16 Commercial Street / Dundee / Scotland / DD1 3EJ „
---All the stuff---
My week had been ridiculously hectic. Between gym, moving televisions, organising mattresses, getting costumes sorted and arranging a gathering to celebrate getting a really geeky childhood DVD, I just didn't have a moment to myself. Throw in that my dad and step-mum were in the middle of moving house and wanted any excuse to not have to go back to the in-between-house. One friday evening I was told I was going out for a meal to thank Allan and I for helping move their stuff into storage. Fabulous! Busy, but fabulous!
The restaurant that was chosen was Rancho Pancho's, which is a Mexican restaurant. There are two Rancho Pancho restaurants in Dundee and on in Perth. One of the Dundee branches is situated on Commercial Street in the city centre, which I've been to a couple of times. I wasn't overly impressed with the food there; it wasn't terrible but it wasn't anything to write home about. Also I was positively depressed about their Margaritas. I had once went on a search for a decent Margarita to help get over the ex I had just split up from and another who had just stolen thousands from his employer who was, in turn, hounding me. If ever a time called for a decent Margarita, I think that was it. Unfortunately, they were full of ice, very weak, flavourless and a bit overpriced. Thankfully we chose to go to the other branch in Wellbank this time.
---Getting to Mexico---
Wellbank (2 mattocks road, dd5 3PJ to be precise) is a small village nestled way out in the countryside. It's still technically part of Dundee and only takes about 15 minutes to drive there. If you are evil like my father you will choose the winding country road route making me feel very queasy before we even got there. Alternatively you can turn left at the Claypotts Junction and head on the fairly straight road as my step-mum did on the way home while screaming at people who apparently bought their driver licence in Woolworths...hmm. If you've never been to Wellbank, I'd suggest using Sat-Nav or a map, I've been a few times now and I still have trouble finding it. Another option is that you could just convince more people to come with you as if you book a table of 8 or more they will run a complimentary mini bus to pick your party up in Dundee and drop you all off again after your meal! This means you don't need to worry about finding it and you then get to try some of their (according to their website) legendary Margaritas. I only hoped they would do better than the branch in the city centre.
Once you have found the place if you have decided to drive yourself, parking is very easy as the restaurant has its own car park. Even when it's been busy I've never had any trouble parking.
The restaurant is in two parts. They have a giant conservatory surrounding the main building and the main building inside. It's also connected to another traditional restaurant called Cath Rennie's (which is usually decent). Customers tend to be seated in the conservatory area which is beautifully decked out with wood everywhere. They also have an outdoor decked area so if the weather is decent you could easily sit outside. That is, of course, if you don't mind looking at the three giant neon palm trees that they have outside. Part of me thought it was a bit tacky. Most of me thought they were awesome. I mean, seriously. NEON PALM TREES?!? I want them.
---Disabled access and kids---
I'm not entirely sure if they have any sort of disabled access. There are stairs on every entrance that I've seen and I tried emailing to ask about it but have so far received no response (hmm, come on!). I can only assume that they must have some sort of disabled access as the men's toilet inside the restaurant has a disabled sign on it. As for children, there is a kids menu (see photos) so your little darlings will be welcome. I didn't see any toys or play areas to keep them amused but it's very possible that everything had been tidied away by the time we got there.
We arrived at half 8 and I was quite pleased to find the restaurant almost completely empty, bar two couples. Strangely the waitress chose to sit us at a table right next to the other diners. She'd also forgotten to light our candle or set out any salt or pepper grinders on our table. Fair and well if the place was busy, but it wasn't. Thankfully though, the chairs are incredibly comfortable so none of us minded too much. Just as well really since we did have to wait quite a bit throughout the night.
---Tequila makes me happy---
Having seen an epic Margarita menu on the website, I had been getting myself quite excited about having a decent drink. When we were seated, however, I noticed that instead of the menus on the website, they had a cocktail menu with only one tequila shaped drink on it. It had plenty other cocktails but I wasn't very impressed, so when asked what I'd like to drink, I asked if they did Margaritas. The waitress, bless her cotton socks, said she could try but that it might not turn out right.
About ten minutes later the drinks arrived. Not quite sure why it took ten minutes to pour four drinks. She told me that her attempt at a margarita had failed badly and that it's almost pure tequila so she'd given me a tequila sunrise instead. Being a raging alcoholic at the best of times I told her I'd happily sample the abomination she had produced. Being game for a laugh she told me I could have it on the house if I could drink it. Free tequila? FREE TEQUILA?!?! Oh god yes. As it stands it was actually quite decent. The backup drink I ordered (tequila sunrise £3.95) was also quite satisfactory. I am still curious exactly how much tequila she used in the Margarita since two drinks down I was feeling rather drunk. Never a bad thing!
The restaurant does have a fully stocked bar so you can choose to have whatever you want. Our table ordered Whiskey and coke and two vodkas and coke. The prices weren't too bad either with most coming in around the £2.50 mark which is much cheaper than the cocktails and the £4.95 I was expecting to pay for a Margarita from the non-existent Margarita menu.
Talking about the wayward online menus, if you are going to the Wellbank restaurant you can't get the menu for it on their website. The "Dundee" menu is very similar but doesn't have everything offered in the restaurant. The menus in house include the food from both the traditional restaurant Cath Rennie's and the Mexican menu so you do have a lot of choice. It means that if you are with someone who doesn't particularly want Mexican food, they won't be put out by it too much. The menus for the more traditional food can be found on the website for the Cath Rennie's section of the restaurant (www.cathrennies.co.uk) although the kids menu doesn't seem to be included there either and the website itself is poorly constructed. As the kids menu is short, I'll give it to you now, feel free to skip it if you aren't interested.
KIDS CARVERY (for kids 4 - 11) £4.50
Enjoy a feast from the carvery.
TOMATO PENNE PASTA £3.95
Penne pasta cooked in a mild tomato sauce
FISH FINGERS £3.95
Crispy cod bites with chips
Scampi whole tails deep fried till crispy with chips
BURGER AND CHIPS £3.95
100% beef burger with chips and tomato ketchup
GRILLED CHICKEN AND CHIPS £3.95
Chicken Supreme grilled and served with chips and tomato ketchup
---Start your engines---
Not to be too much of a lush, I'll now tell you about the food we ordered! For starters, I ordered Mozza Melts (£3.95) basically mozzarella cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and herbs. There were five "mozza melts" and they came with a mild salsa and some salad. The dish was presented well and tasted great. At least I'm sure it did, that might have been the tequila talking. There was just enough on the plate to leave me feeling like I could happily manage my main course which is always a plus. Nothing worse than fearing your main course after being bold and having a starter!
Allan ordered Nachos Grande (£3.95) which came with chilli, jalapenos and cheese over the top of them. Side dishes containing sour cream, salsa and guacamole were also on the plate. You can order variants of this dish with chicken or grilled vegetables instead of chilli if you want too. This was another lovely looking dish and Allan happily munched his way through it with no complaints.
My Dad went with the garlic mushrooms from the traditional menu (£2.95) which consisted of whole button mushrooms cooked in a creamy garlic sauce served on garlic bread. I had toyed with getting them but I don't like when restaurants cook them in a creamy sauce so I steered clear. My Dad, however, really enjoyed them and they did look and smell lovely too. My Step-mum Lorna decided to forego a starter but did help my dad polish off his garlic mushrooms with no complaints.
Overall we all enjoyed the starters; they were well presented and not over-filling or over-priced for what you got. Kudos Pancho's!
---Do we get our main meal?---
There was a little bit of a gap after we'd finished our starters before the waiter (the staff had changed by this point) came to clear our table. He managed to make us all raise an eyebrow by asking if we'd like to see the dessert menu while clearing the table. He was met with four perplexed and sarcastic people requesting the main meal first.
---Like Father like Son.---
After a little more of a gap, our main courses arrived. For the main, my Dad and I went for the same meal; Margarita Chicken (£11.95. You'd think I like Margaritas or something eh?). The chicken was pan fried with chilli, cumin, garlic, cream and some of my favourite drink, Jose Cuervo. It was a lovely orangey-red colour and came with plenty of sauce. On the same plate there was also a serving of rice, a pot of sour cream, salad and four tortilla wraps.
After constructing a wrap for myself, I was in heaven. The chicken was moist and delicious and the sauce it was cooked in was perfect. It actually reminded me quite a bit of chicken tikka, which just so happens to be another favourite of mine. There was enough of everything to fill the four wraps I was given without running out of anything too. Usually I find I run out of something before I get to the end if I'm given a meal to construct myself. My Dad and I both managed to finish off the whole meal so I'd say the portion sizes were perfect in this dish. No complaints were heard from either of us.
---The Other Half---
For his main, Allan decided to go for the Chicken Quesadillas (£9.95). You can also have this dish with grilled vegetables for your filling for the same price or you can upgrade to beef, chilli or prawns but they will up your price to £11.95. The filling you choose is also cooked with onions and cheese and the whole thing is oven baked to crisp it up. The Quesadillas arrived already cut into three sections and instead being covered in sauce like enchiladas, the sauce is in a side dish so you can choose how much of it you want to use. There was also a serving of rice, sour cream and salad with this dish.
Allan thought the Quesadillas were lovely, with the filling being well cooked and tasting great with a nice crunch from the wrap. He did, however, struggle to finish the last third of the enchilada. Usually he doesn't struggle much, so the portion was maybe a little big. Overall though, he really enjoyed his main course.
---Get your ribs out for the lads...---
Lorna decided to go for the ribs and wings combo (£11.95) which was a half rack of ribs and Louisiana coated chicken, with southern coleslaw and Cajun curly fries. There was also a helping of sour cream and salad. After trying her best to get her boobs in the picture of her meal, she tucked in and really enjoyed them. I didn't think they looked that great, but the must have tasted lovely. She didn't manage to get to the curly fries before she got full but I tried one and they were perfectly done; Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a very light hint of a flavouring to them. Very nice indeed. The main course, like the starters, also got a thumbs up from all four of us!
Another wait that was a little too long and our table was cleared and the desserts menu was brought. I, being a total cheesecake whore, spotted bailies cheesecake (£3.95) and lunged for it (this, of course, was after a fit of giggles as Lorna put some scary images of her doing a dance with bread in the naked into my head just as the waiter arrived to take the order). Allan and Lorna decided they wanted to make me look like a fat pig and got coffees instead. My Dad stuck to a whiskey and coke.
I was a little disappointed with my cheesecake when it arrived. Rather than being a cheesecake infused with a lovely creamy Bailies flavour, I was served a vanilla cheesecake with a shot glass of bailies on the plate. Holding the shot glass and cheesecake in place was a very sticky and brightly coloured orange and red coulis. The cheesecake was actually not bad, but not quite what I had geared myself up for. The coulis, on the other hand, was god awful. I'm not even sure what flavour it was supposed to be but it was sour as hell and not very pleasant at all. It didn't compliment the Bailies or the cheesecake. If I had known before hand that this is what a "Bailies Cheesecake" was I wouldn't have had a dessert at all. Thumbs down from me.
Allan and Lorna's coffees arrived with a lovely frothy top to them and a neat little design had been sprinkled on top in chocolate powder. They looked lovely. Unfortunately, neither Allan nor Lorna enjoyed the coffee. It left a rather sour taste in their mouths both literally and metaphorically and was declared by both to be possibly the worst coffee they'd ever had the misfortune to drink. Not a fantastic end for the meal we had all enjoyed and a bit bizzare that you can mess coffee up so badly. Dad, on the other hand, was fairly quiet about his final whiskey but if he's anything like me with tequila, I can only assume he savoured it like a true alcohol fiend.
After the meal was finished, there was another very long wait for them to clear our plates. We all sat and allowed the meal to process while blethering away about mortgages and farting. Yep, real intellectual stuff. The temperature in the place started to go down a little and eventually we decided to leave. Firstly, though, we all took a go at finding the toilets which are situated near the bar with the men's and ladies being on opposite walls. As I mentioned earlier, the men's toilet also doubles up as the disabled toilet which I imagine disabled women would be not all too happy about.
Lorna being a bit of a clean freak thought the women's toilets were a mess; broken tiles, poorly kept toilet seats and a general lack of cleanliness. Allan being of the same persuasion also thought the men's were disgusting. I wasn't all too taken aback by them, but the floor did have a fair amount of water on them that looked like it had leaked out of the toilet. I also noticed that it was absolutely freezing in the men's toilet so not the most comfortable.
Once we were all done my Dad had to go and find someone at the bar to pay the bill as there were no staff to be seen in our part of the restaurant. They must have been rushed off their feet serving the masses of customers (there were a whole 4 customers, and it was ourselves).
In conclusion, I did actually quite like the place. The starters and mains were enjoyed by all but the deserts seemed to be a bit of a flop all round. I wasn't hugely impressed with the level of service and the time it took for plates to be cleared. I get the impression that if they were full to capacity the staff may have been found huddled in a corner, collectively rocking back and forward asking when the voices will stop. To add to that, I still haven't had a response to an email I sent yesterday asking about what disabled access they have which to me is appalling. Other restaurants have gotten back to me within minutes and if I was actually disabled, they'd have just lost out on a customer.
When asking everyone what rating they would give, the verdict was a unanimous 3 out of five. I would still recommend the place though as the food was (mostly) delicious and much, much better than the branch on commercial street. Just don't get your hopes up about a margarita and you will be fine!