“ Chain of Pubs „
On a recent trip to Inverness, we stayed over one night in Dundee at one of the Premier Inns there. The Bell Tree pub/restaurant is next door to the Premier Inn and we decided to pay a visit.
Situated on the A92 to Arbroath, The Bell Tree is a modern dining venue built in the Chef & Brewer style which advertises a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Previous to our visit here, I had no experience of a Chef & Brewer pub restaurant, but from the outside it certainly looked inviting enough, a large cosy-looking stone building with wooden tables and chairs set outside.
The setting is ideal, on the outskirts of Broughty Ferry and set away from the busy road and near a residential area, but also adjoining the Premier Inn and a handful of small retail outlets opposite, ensuring that this pub restaurant receives plenty of visitors.
Indeed on the evening of our visit, there wasn't any tables vacant when we first entered The Bell Tree around 7pm and as it was a warm sunny July evening, we sat outside with a drink until some tables became available. I really enjoyed sitting outside as it was a lovely evening, the sky shaded blue, pink and red as the sun was setting, so the fact we couldn't get a table for a while did not bother me in the slightest and is also testimony to how popular this place is.
After around half an hour a couple of tables were free inside, but we were enjoying sitting outside watching the sunset and so didn't bother going inside to find a table until around 8.30pm and by this time there were a few tables available.
I thought from the outside that The Bell Tree looked like a cosy place to eat and drink and my opinion did not change once we got inside. Wooden tables and chairs and wooden beams across the ceiling, match the wooden beams partitioning off certain areas to allow for cosy alcoves and private dining. The floor is a mixture of stone, wood and carpet and the walls were either bare brick or painted red or cream. Candles were placed on the tables and I also noticed real fires, which when lit during the winter months will add to the cosy feel inside. Everything looked really clean too and we found a table near a window and sat down.
Menus were placed on the tables, but there were also chalk boards around the pub offering specials and other dishes not listed on the menu.
As well as traditional dishes, there were also some extra-special dishes on the menu such as Organic Shetland Salmon, Chorizo Chicken, and Duo of Duck Salad as well as number of Spanish dishes which seemed to be from a Spanish promotional theme running in July. I noticed that they were also advertising a 'Flavour of Italy' month for the following month and this is as well as running 'Curry nights' on Thursdays and 'Fish nights' on Fridays, where a variety of curries and fish dishes are offered. Other themed nights such as a vegetarian night were also advertised.
It took a while for us to decide what to have as there were also some meal deals available from 5pm Mon-Thurs where you can choose 2 courses for £9.99 or 3 courses for £11.99. As it was a Thursday evening, I was tempted by the curry night where I was promised an Indian feast and a drink for just £9.99, but I was also tempted by the two courses for £9.99 deal too. I am a very indecisive person and it did take me some time to make up my mind!
In the end I went with the curry as being a curry night, I was tempted by the aroma of Indian food that many of the diners appeared to be enjoying. I ordered the mildest chicken curry on the menu and I was not disappointed with the generous portion which appeared. The chicken was very succulent breast pieces and the rice fluffy, just how I like it. I enjoyed it along with a poppadom and naan bread, washed down with a glass of wine and all for just £9.99. My partner enjoyed gammon and eggs followed by chocolate fudge cake from the two courses for £9.99 deal. I couldn't have managed a dessert of my own after my curry and my partner didn't think he could eat all the fudge cake, so we shared it and I can confirm it was delicious.
As well as the usual beers and spirits, The Bell Tree offers a number of fine wines as well as three guest ales. Speciality teas and coffees were also available and I enjoyed a frothy latte the following morning which was served to my table whilst sitting outside, before we left to continue our journey up to Inverness.
If you are staying at the adjacent Premier Inn and booking breakfast, then it is served here inside The Bell Tree too.
As I mentioned earlier it was very clean inside and this can also be said about the toilets too, which also cater for the disabled as well as having a separate baby changing unit. Children are welcome here too and there is a separate children's menu, although there were only one or two there at the time of my visit and overall it was a quiet, cosy atmosphere despite it being quite busy.
I cannot fault the service, food or surroundings at The Bell Tree. The staff were very friendly and attentive and we didn't wait long for our meals to be served after ordering. I was impressed with my visit to both this pub restaurant and also the adjacent Premier Inn and will return here again.
Opening times :
Monday - Thursday 11am - 11pm.
Friday & Saturday 11am - 12midnight.
Sunday 12.30pm - 11pm
The Bell Tree,
On our way to Tesco's in Dundee for a spot of late night shopping we decided to stop off for something to eat and decided to try this pub which is part of the Chef and Brewer group. This group is one of the subsidiaries of The Spirit Group who also have The Wacky Warehouse pub/restaurants and The Steak and Ale pubs.
Unlike the Wacky Warehouses these are aimed at the slightly more mature clientele with a more adult selection of food and more refined atmosphere.
The Bell Tree is set in a relatively new development that has taken off since the A92 between Arbroath and Dundee was upgraded to duel carriageway after many years of battling between locals wanting it and the council saying they had no money for it - but I digress. On the outskirts of Broughty Ferry, on the edge of Dundee, you will find this pub almost hidden by the larger Premier Inn alongside it. Across the way is a group of shopping outlets and although some of these are still vacant you can see a Domino's Pizza place and a lovely little craft shop that has only been open a couple of weeks.
There is also a lot of new housing in the background which does seem a little bit strange given the Premier Inn - I'm not sure I would want to live in a setting such as that with lots of people coming and going.
The exterior of the pub building is very modern looking and there are lovely hanging baskets outside along with wooden tables and benches, which were immaculate. Maybe that was due to the cold weather but of course they do have to cater for all those people who want to smoke up here since the ban came in.
At the door there was a large chalkboard with a lovely welcome message on telling you to take a seat, peruse the menu and then place your order at the bar. There was another board alongside advising us of special drinks promotions that were on too.
When we entered the building we found ourselves in a quaint, old fashioned style pub with lots of wood panelling and wooden tables and chairs. There were lots of cosy alcoves and larger areas so you could take your pick as the mood took you. We opted for a quiet table for two in a small area where we sat down at a beautiful, candlelit table.
All around were pictures on the walls and chalkboards informing us of specials on food, drink and entertainment that would be taking place in the following weeks. The music playing was good background music and wasn't too loud although we could still hear it despite the amount of other diners visiting.
***At the Bar***
Before deciding what we wanted to eat we decided to get a drink and my fiancé decided to have a glass of wine to accompany his meal whilst I opted for a fresh orange and lemonade as I was driving and also on antibiotics for a chest infection.
As soon as we approached the bar, we were greeted by a friendly young man, in dress trousers, a waistcoat and tie, looking very smart although when he turned around we did notice his shirttail hanging out but didn't have the heart to tell him. He was very helpful and asked whether dry, medium or sweet wine was required and what size of glass he wanted it in. My bloke decided on sweet and a Reisling was recommended. I was then asked if I required ice or fruit in my drink.
We had a good look at the menu before deciding to skip the starters and go straight for a main course and followed it up with a sweet. There was a good selection for each course though as well as side dishes being available. There was also a separate menu for quick meals if you just wanted a snack and a speciality hot drinks menu that offered a selection of good tea, herbal infusions and various types of coffee including cappuccinos and lattes.
Now I have to say that the selections on offer were a little bit more upmarket than those we had seen at the Weavers Mill the previous week (see other review if you are interested) but this made a lovely change to get away from burgers and the like.
The starters on offer were quite different despite having the favourites of prawn cocktail and soup of the day. The selection included Chicken, Pear and Walnut salad, Mussels or Lamb Kofta with Tzatziki, which was two spicy minced lamb skewers served with cucumber, mint and yoghurt relish with toasted pitta bread. The vegetarians are not left out here with a choice of Somerset Brie Crostini or Mushroom Rarebit with Stilton.
The main meals ordered a traditional selection of food like Gammon Steak or Mixed Grill, which were the two options we chose as well as slightly more exotic tasty treats such as Grilled Whole Sea Bream or Duck with Braised Red Cabbage. Vegetarian options were Mushroom, Spinach, Leek and Stilton Pie and Roasted Pepper Timbales.
The side orders to accompany your meal were garlic bread, onion rings, side salad or simple bread and butter. We decided not to have a side order with our meals, as we didn't want to spoil our appetite for the selection of desserts.
At the bottom of the menu we were told to look on the chalkboards for the dessert range and I'll come to this later. There was also a section telling us that every Sunday they served up a Sunday lunch of either Roast Sirloin of Beef or Turkey with Sausage and Stuffing, all accompanied by roast and mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and seasonal vegetables. All this was for only £7.95, so I think we may have to return one Sunday.
Some of the choices of lighter were a Stilton and Cheddar Ploughman's served in half a crusty baguette or an 8oz Aberdeen Angus Burger in a focaccia bun. There was also a selection of topping for jacket potatoes, a selection of hot baguettes and sandwiches made either with white, brown or facaccia bread.
We ordered our food at the bar as directed and were pleased to be served by a polite gentleman who asked us all the relevant questions about how we would like our meal. My bloke always likes his steak done medium rare so this option was chosen and we agreed to do without an offer of a side dish, which was just as well considering what was served up to us. I was offered the choice of fried egg or pineapple with my gammon and I opted for the pineapple as I'm trying to be healthy (honest).
No sooner than we had returned to our table did a waiter appear with our cutlery and a selection of condiments. We then had a wait of just over 15 minutes for our meal where we sat back and enjoyed our drinks.
When we saw the waitress with the plates arriving, we were very impressed as they were full to bursting point, especially the mixed grill for my bloke. It came, on a very large oval plate, with rib eye steak, chicken breast, a lamb cutlet, gammon, black pudding, sausage, and was served with generous helpings of chips, mushrooms, onion rings, tomato and a fried egg, which was sat on top of the gammon. A real heart attack waiting to happen. Luckily my bloke doesn't worry too much about his weight and normally eats quite healthily so I'm sure this wouldn't have done his arteries too much damage.
My gammon steak was served with a good helping of chips, peas, mushrooms, tomato, and onion rings and even though it looked a bit pathetic compared to my blokes, there was plenty to fill me up.
We both enjoyed our meals even though my bloke did have to leave a few of his chips, which he said was to leave room for his dessert. I didn't think this was right but as he had the credit card, I couldn't really argue. Everything was served hot and tasted freshly cooked unlike some places where you feel as though they have just reheated something.
We had only been finished for a couple of minutes when the waitress came to ask us if we had finished and whether we would require something from the sweet menu. Silly question really as that is what I look forward to the most when eating out. We were surprised to see her bring a chalkboard stand over to us, which had a list of desserts on both sides, and she left us to ponder over the choices.
We were both pretty full and wanted something light as we still had our shopping in Tesco to do. Although the choices of something stickier and more filling were very tempting we decided on a lovely lemon sorbet each. After all, we were still really recovering from the chocolate monster dessert at Weavers the week before. (See picture on that review to see what I mean).
They were brought to us about 5 minutes later in tall sundae glasses with long spoons so we could reach the bottom with ease. For such a simple dessert this tasted fantastically refreshing and tangy and was the perfect end to a meal.
There was quite a selection of desserts on the board such as lemon cheesecake, apple pie and a wide section of ice cream options with various fruity or chocolate sauces to compliment them.
The price for our meals was pretty good as the total bill between food and drinks came to £27.97. The mixed grill was £10.95 and the gammon steak was £6.95. Very good for the size of portion that we received. The prices of the other main meals were about the same too with the most expensive I think being £12.95 for one of the steaks. The sorbets were £2.95 each, which was cheaper than most of those heavier desserts that cost between £4 and £5.
The drinks were a bit pricey but then aren't they always at places like this. The glass of wine was £2.45 and my fresh orange was £1.18 although my dash of lemonade was a costly 54p.
One good thing about this pub/restaurant was that it wasn't really a place you would think of taking the kids to, which made it ideal as an escape route for the evening. There was one small child in so families are obviously welcome but the toddler was kept well under control and wasn't allowed to run riot.
The whole place was clean and tidy and I had to admit I did wonder how the toilets would be as sometimes they can let a place like this down. I needn't have worried as they were fresh and clean too.
The atmosphere was lovely and relaxing throughout our visit and the staff made sure we were well tended too at all times. I quite liked the idea of ordering at the bar to start with but then having full table service and unlike many other places like Wacky Warehouse, you don't have to hand over your credit card until you are leaving. Too many places seem to charge you before you've eaten, which could then leave you with a problem should you think their food is sub standard.
We had no complaints whilst we were there, the food was tasty and plentiful and the staff were friendly and chatty without being overbearing. An enjoyable way to spend an evening, which we may well repeat in the future.
***Address & Tel No.***
Panmurefield Road (just off the A92)