Meat House – Design Focus

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Fraser Wilson takes to Dundee’s West End to see its newest venue, the Meat House.

A city famed for its cartoon characters, DC Thomson printers, and more recently its sterling contribution to the global computer industry, Dundee is not a place that shouts noisily about its culinary wares. But that could be about to change with the investment into the city as a knock-on effect from the V&A development. The buzz surrounding the city’s future has seen the introduction of the Meat House Bar and Grill on Perth Road. The brainchild of the proprietors of Henry’s Coffee House in the City Square, the west end bar and grill is a far cry from anything else happening in the city.
Family partnership Martine and Jonathan Horne, and Darren and Candice Hickey pulled their resources and skill sets to create the restaurant, with a turnaround of 11 weeks from purchase to opening.
Martine told Dram, “There has always been room for a steak house in Dundee, it’s quite an untouched market in terms of high class eateries. And in terms of getting a good steak, I’d say we are the only specialist place in the west end.”
Not only is there now a specialist restaurant, but a “funky, trendy venue”. With a background in property, Martine told us none of the foursome had any experience in the restaurant industry, with Darren and Candice running Henry’s in the city centre. Providing for 130 covers, the space at 2-8 Perth Road made use of an unused university building, directly across from the city’s Art College. And in many ways the refurbishment of the abandoned building is in itself a work of art. The design work was carried out by Darren’s firm, Fair Dev Contracts with much of the hard labour also carried out by his company.
Sitting at the bottom of Perth Road, the building stands out with a dark mint green front, finished with copper cow skulls and lettering. The impressive sign work is thanks to Forbes signs and local artist, Paul Toppin who used copper and bronze to finish the work. Two large, glass windows sit uninterrupted allowing for light to flood the impressive space, whilst to the left an outdoor decking area provides space for 30 covers.
Upon entry the eye goes straight to the back of the room, where a long, wooded bar, topped off by an impressive overhead metal gantry, adorned with spotless glasses and a vast variety of wine bottles captures the eye. With a large wooden front, the bar is contrasted by impressive hair covered cowhide panels, with light tan and white hide offsetting the dark walnut bar finish. The impressive bar is framed and supported by shiny white tiles, that reflect the natural light well.
To the right, two booths with dark brown leather seats are accompanied by handmade tables, put together by Darren and his team at his workshop, using wood from Timbmet. These are lit thanks to low hanging ceiling lamps, which catch the eye and take them away from the wall space.
Darren told us, “Most of the furniture you see in here was designed and put together by us. It was a cost thing really, we couldn’t afford to draft in a designer and we felt we had the capabilities to do it. “We’re not looking for a pat on the back, it’s what we do. But it is nice to still be there when people say ‘they’ve done that well’ and ‘that looks nice’. A lot of the time on jobs the owners get the praise.”
The plain, yet stylish front door was also finished by Darren, who “knocked together” a lengthy door handle from metal from his workshop just in time for the opening night on October 5. To the left in the main room sits a long breakfast bar with stools supplied by Nisbets, behind which three two-seater tables meet the side wall, sitting below the in-house made wooden ceiling feature.
A space then provides more light to come in at the double doors which lead onto the decked outdoor area. To the right, a table with bench and seats allows for six people to sit comfortably, snooping to the side to see what the bar staff are up to.
Through to the right of the bar another, amply seated room adds to the indoor cover, which – including the downstairs area, perfect for private dining – provides for 100 diners. The well finished room is simple, yet stylish with light coming in from the main street through a sizeable window.
The main seating on the back wall is a bench finished with cowhide sourced and finished from Satelleit Browns and J&C of Bellshill. The dark mint green colour from outside continues through the building, interrupted by stylish wooden furniture, a handful of playfully coloured metal seats, and the impressive handmade tables.
A feature running throughout the building is the mixed wood combinations, seen no better on the impressive feature wall running from the ground floor ceiling to the basement, via the stairwell. This too was designed and put together by Fair Dev Contracts, with Darren having a vocal input on the work as it developed.
Black walnut, aged oak, and white ash were just some of the woods used throughout to varying degrees. Buffed and sealed, stripped back, roughed up, used en masse, or sparingly, the different use and effects are impressive. The full wall feature is replicated throughout the different rooms on the ceiling, offering the ideal place to fit and fix classy, minimalistic light fittings and spotlights.
Down stairs is a more grown up area, with private, large booths utilising the dark brown leather and various woods to good effect. This slightly darker, moodier room is ideal for large groups and private functions.
Back up stairs to the impressive bar designed and assembled by Revamp Fabrications, the dark walnut bar top is offset by an impressive gantry and clean cut back bar, awash with high-end brands ideal for the specially devised cocktails, put together to compliment the menu.
Dundee may not yet be a place to shout about in terms of quality restaurants and steak houses, but it’s getting there. And thanks to the help of his friend, Steve Graham at Mannerview Hotels, who offered advice, contacts and support when needed, Darren thinks the Meat House may not be too far off topping the list.

Category: Features
Tags: Dundee, Henry's Coffee House, Meat House