A taste of coffee life at Dundee’s Pacamara

“Tossing and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things are falling apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is unleashed upon the world.” The Second Coming – William Butler Yeats.

I’ve often wished I was the kind of person who sits in a cafe for hours, maybe reading a little poetry, dreaming of a fairer society, and just watching the world go by.

You will have seen many variations of this scenario, especially with people who seem to have no deadlines, usually never order food, and make a cup of coffee last all afternoon while they work on something. terribly important on their laptop.

These people always carry a spare charger, rarely tip, and ask for a fifth glass of tap water when it becomes apparent that the cafe owner might need the table for someone who really wants to eat.

Inside Pacamara in Dundee.

But recently I’ve been struck by the fact that this cliched image says more about the social circles I meddle in – types of media being “creative”, basically – and not so much about the wider world where things got even more real.

We now live in a time when many of the people you see in cafes probably cannot afford to heat their own homes, a problem that is now much more serious due to the widespread need to work from home and fuel costs which are growing so rapidly. .

An hour in another happy and bustling space can provide a huge respite from a long day spent working from home or just trying to stay sane in these trying times.

There’s no denying that a cafe often provides me with a warm and welcoming escape from the isolation of a day spent working at the kitchen table and so many of my favorite places unwittingly offer so much more than just coffee and cake, rooting them firmly as fundamental elements of their local communities.

I see this most acutely in Dundee’s classic Forte’s which, in addition to serving the best coffee and cheese rolls in town, exemplifies the idea of ​​the cafe as a real social hub.

Yes, Forte’s is a cafe, old school and proud, but it’s also a place where owner Jim keeps a watchful eye on his older clientele, watching for signs of illness or distress in their lives and seeing how he can help. .

Over the years I have heard incredible stories at Forte’s and truly believe that cafes like this provide a safety net for some of the most fragile people in our harsh society.

Cafe Forte in Dundee.

It would certainly be a brave person to ask Jim at Forte if he has a spare laptop charger behind the counter and anyway the tables are too narrow for a Mac to sit on – so here, it’s just classic Dundee banter competing with the coffee machine’s scoosh, and the only click you’ll hear is that of your own heels waiting for those miraculous rolls of cheese to appear.

Nonetheless, the idea of ​​coffee as a workplace is both culturally embedded and increasingly necessary in this new world.

London was once awash with these displaced keyboard warriors, as private club Soho House introduced areas where laptops were banned, making the surreptitious click of a Mac as forbidden as illegal drugs, sex in public and smoke anything other than your own. tasteless vapors of its own importance.

Aside from the fact that I’m bored sitting anywhere for hours (I’ll never order coffee or digestive at dinner because my attention span drops after just a few hours, even on the most social occasions intense), I feel cafes are for drinking coffee and eating low-calorie food while listening to intriguing conversations at the next table.

It is often here, on this eternal table next to life, set on the not always greener grass, that we humans display our finest moments – and our flaws.

A recent breakfast at Goodfellow and Steven’s saw my sister and I mesmerized by a nearby conversation where one of the women was Broughty Ferry’s unwilling and very talkative answer to Alan Bennett.

Her unconscious encampment, straight from a Victoria Wood sketch, was all the more delightful as the lady on the other side could be seen grimacing at every barbed joke in a way that confirmed you should never, ever play with it. Dundee girls.

All of human life is in a cafe and you can be a part of it for the price of a white flat, which sounds like a bargain to me.


Pacamara on Dundee’s Perth Road is a place I’ve been going to for years, having been introduced by Dundee musician Andrew Wasylyk who has an innate sense of cool.

Recent visits to Pacamara show why it’s still one of the nicest cafes in Dundee and certainly the best in this part of the West End, even if the current menu seems to me reduced – something you find in many places in this moment because hospitality is forced to turn to genuine crowd pleasers to attract customers.

Pacamara in Dundee.

The food

Our first recent visit was on a Sunday morning, a time that suited this brunch-oriented menu perfectly.

From a two-sided menu featuring ‘Lunch’ on one side and ‘Brekkie’ on the other (how I hate the word ‘Brekkie’) we chose two classic brunch dishes, and both were delicious. .

David’s Pacamara huevos (£7.95) were simply rancheros born with a view of the Tay and included organic fried eggs, salsas, spicy refried beans and, of course, tortilla.

Huevos Pacamara

Additions like crispy halloumi, chorizo, avocado and smoked bacon
are all £2.

My bubble & squeak Benny (£7.95) was another well done classic, perfectly poached organic eggs.

You can top this dish with halloumi, Dutch harissa and za’atar for an extra £1.95, the same price as adding black pudding and bacon crumbs for us carnivores.

Bubble and squeal Benny.

The service was excellent and the tables are really well spaced out. Pacamara also uses these plexiglass shields between tables, which gives covid-19 paranoids like me an extra sense of security.

Next time I go I’ll order the brioche French toast with caramelised banana, honey cinnamon mascarpone and toasted hazelnuts (£7.95) which almost seemed too decadent a proposition before church
on this visit.

The Perspex screens inside Pacamara.

Lunch here a few days later offered a larger menu, although some brunch classics are still featured. For me, however, there was only one choice – it had to be the buttermilk fried chicken burger (£8.95) which features marinated chicken thighs in a crispy, heavily seasoned coating, served on a brioche bread with sesame seeds.

This whole dish was completely enlivened by the cajun spicy mayonnaise which, along with the most tender chicken, instantly transported me to a similar lockdown dish I ate in the graveyard near Kinneuchar Inn as snow fell around of us and wondered if we would ever eat in a restaurant again.

For me, this burger tasted almost as good as the Kinneuchar version, although I must say I did miss the more searing, searing grating of the lips of the slightly too hot chicken against my mouth in this slightly cooler Pacamara delight.

The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burger.

Incidentally, if you’re new to the deliciousness of buttermilk chicken marinade, I refer you to page 349 of Nigella Lawson’s seminal How To Eat book, where she prefaces a recipe with “The Tenderest Chicken.” The title doesn’t lie. The buttermilk marinade prevents the flesh from drying out and becoming stringy, even after being cooked in a hot oven.

Although I would advise getting a good free-range chicken, this method will work wonders on inferior supermarket birds. Despite its name, buttermilk is very low in fat, which makes it useful if you want to save a portion without the skin because
moist as possible.

This Pacamara version uses the most succulent chicken thigh meat, which is to be commended.

Colombian eggs with halloumi.

A selection of toasted sourdough sandwiches are also available at lunchtime for £6.95 (£5 to take away). These include a delicious version with French onions, grilled cheese, onion jam and garlic herb butter. The hand cut rooster fries (£2.50) were delicious and would go well with anything on this menu.

The verdict

Pacamara is simply adorable. Yes it’s quite a limited menu at the moment but what they do they do very well and I know they will be adding more dishes as the seasons go on (more salads would be welcome).

The staff are excellent and the surroundings are so cozy you don’t notice them (that’s a compliment).

There is also a selection of good grocery stores nearby, including Fraser’s Fruit and Veg, Fisher & Donaldson, the Little Green Larder and, for more cerebral delicacies, Le Freak Records.


Closer to home it was great to return to the wonderful Kitschnbake in Newport-on-Tay and even better to see powerhouse owner (and fellow Courier columnist) Mary Jane Duncan rushing over to welcome everyone and make sure everything works.

Mary Jane and I are friends and maybe that means I haven’t written about her lovely cafe as much as others. My fault, as it is a gem of a place and a place I often escape to for the perfect solo lunch.

Everything here is good but I have to highlight the stovies (£6.95), made with Scott Brothers brisket and served with Fisher & Donaldson oat cakes, the frittata (£5.50) and the amazing rolls of sausages (£6.95).

posted by Kitschnbake to Wednesday, January 19, 2022

My lunch of homemade carrot, parsnip and lentil soup (£3), that wonderful sausage roll with salad and the wettest, densest triple chocolate brownie (£2.50) was called a three course meal and meant that I didn’t have to eat that night.

Filled buns are £3.50 and Wild Hearth pastries are £3. The coffee is excellent. Jokes are encouraged and free.

This is my true definition of a home away from home – minutes from home, joyful, relaxing, socially responsible and a true center of the local community.

That’s what I call coffee!


Address: Pacamara, 302 Perth Road, Dundee DD2 1AU

P: 01382 527666
W: www.facebook.com/pacamaradundee

Price: Brunch/Lunch from £6.95


  • Food: 4/5
  • Performance: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

Address: Kitschnbake, 16 Boat Road, Newport on Tay DD6 8EZ

P: 01382 542704
W: www.kitschnbake.co.uk

Price: Filled buns cost £3.50 and Wild Hearth pastries £3

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