Month: July 2013

Get Me To The Greek

Although I eat out regularly, I never randomly pick places. I don’t want to waste my money or have an unsatisfactory experience & I’m passionate about finding the best places to go. I try to minimise my chances of a shoddy meal by lots of online research and asking friends where they have been.

On my home turf in Glasgow I roughly know where to go but Edinburgh always poses so many questions for me. Ideally I usually want to eat near-ish to Haymarket or Waverley but can’t seem to find many places in this area and everything seems so spaced out. I like Leith but it’s a bit of a trek to get to so, for this visit, I asked around all of my Edinburghians for a recommendation.

It came in the shape of My Big Fat Greek Kitchen, which is not near to either of the train stations but I liked the name. It is in Tollcross (so I’m told) on Broughton Street and after seeing how many restaurants are up here I am convinced that they built the train stations in the wrong locations!

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After a brisk 30 minute walk from Waverley (we may have got a bit lost) we arrived at this small restaurant and were greeted by a lovely lady who I suspect is the owner. Trying to be Sociable Sally’s we ordered the triple dips with bread. This consisted of humous, tzatziki and pantzarosalata – the latter being a new one to me but I soon found out that it was a pleasant beetroot dip. The humous was particularly tasty and obviously contained a good quality olive oil.

For mains the Greek staple Kotopoulo was ordered by the chicken lovers at the table. The chargrilled kebabs arrived with a big pile of rice, some salad & tzatziki. Chicken was perfectly cooked and both of them enjoyed the dish but one did comment that the rice was a little al dente.

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Mr S & I went for the meat platter to share so that we could try as much as possible. It arrived piled high (the photo does not do it justice) with chargrilled chicken, spicy sausages, pork loin and meatballs accompanied by tzatziki, pitta, chips (which you could swap for rice) and salad. The sausage was a bit too spicy for me but Mr S loved it and we both enjoyed the rest of this meat overload. With so much food you would expect it to be more expensive but it was only £28.50 so £14.25 per person. The Kotopoulo was £13.95 so the meat platter was definite value for money.

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We skipped dessert in favour of going for drinks but it was nice to see that the dessert list was slightly more varied than most Greek restaurants I have visited. The My Big Fat Greek Kitchen selection will have to be sampled next time, that’s after I’ve tried the moussaka for my main.

It was the friendliness of the staff that stuck out above everything. My ever failing phone had run out of battery so I asked if I could charge it and they were helpful & courteous about it. In particular the lady who appeared to own it came across so warm and friendly. In a city that is confusingly full of restaurants, service like that will make the decision for you.

Sweet Number 16

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I recently visited Number 16 on Byres Road – a pocket sized restaurant near Dumbarton Road.

My friend & I popped in for lunch after hearing lots of people raving about it. The lunch is of good value at 2 courses for £11.95 or 3 courses for £13.95. After ordering drinks, our waitress brought over freshly baked bread with parmesan butter. The bread (and butter) was lovely and any restaurant that bakes their own bread gets my approval.

For starters we chose pan fried fillet of rainbow trout with lemon, creme fraiche potato & sauce vierge and sweet potato broth with lemongrass, coriander & chilli. The latter dish was the kind of broth that I want to make at home but I can never seem to inject much flavour into. Luckily, this was flavoured perfectly. The rainbow trout was a lovely fresh dish to have as a starter and the ingredients complemented each other wonderfully.

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Rainbow Trout

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Sweet Potato Broth

I had already decided on my main course before we even walked through the door thanks to my excessive online menu research – thank goodness the menu wasn’t different online! The braised pork belly (from Ramsays of Carluke) with Stornaway black pudding croquette, white onion marmalade, celeriac puree & spiced apple sauce was everything that I wanted it to be and more. Each element of the dish was cooked exactly how it should have been and the dish went so well together.

They were very accomodating when my friend asked for one of the starters as a main course and were happy to make a bigger portion as a main. The fresh tagliatelle with mushrooms, garlic & sage butter was delicious. I have to admit that I don’t order pasta dishes outside of Italian restaurants as I have never found them to be as good but my friend let me sample some and it definitely was.

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Pork Belly

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Tagliatelle

By this point I was full to bursting but my dining companion is a sticky toffee pudding aholic so I knew she was having dessert when I spotted it on the menu. I sensibly didn’t order dessert and had a coffee instead until she offered me a taste of said pudding. It was the best sticky toffee pudding that either of us have ever had, seriously good. The sponge was light, the sauce was rich & plentiful and there was a wee bit of unwhipped cream to cut through the sauce. Perfection.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

The restaurant has an understatedly classy but homely look to it & fantastic individual style wood tables. Finally, our waitress was just lovely. There was only one on because it was a Wednesday lunchtime and the place is very small but we didn’t have to wait for anything. She was helpful and made us feel at ease. I just hope that next time I visit that the restaurant lives up to the high expectations – thats when I will know its worth.

I am always looking for new places to take the folks when they are down for weekends and I’ve just added Number 16 to the list.

Number 16 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Have You Been To D’toun Lately?

I have lived in several places in Glasgow during my 11 years in the city but when I moved to Dennistoun 7 years ago I knew I felt comfortable there.

We called it Little Inverness for a while because there were so many people from Inverness living there. You see, Dennistoun has a real community feel and Dennistounites are a friendly bunch.

A perfect example of this is that when I first moved to Dennistoun the staff in Day Today went out of their way to make me feel welcome – they would order me in things I like (my guilty pleasure is butter microwave popcorn), order me in the Inverness Courier & always made time for a chat. A trip to the Apple Pharmacy on the Parade is like a social event with everyone chatting like old friends. Then there’s Alexandra Park – a lovely place for a walk or a run and, in the summer, a picnic.

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We have an excellent butcher shop, bakers, greengrocers & florist. Florresters created the bouquets for my wedding and they were stunning (if I do say so myself). The photographer got a great photograph of the florist giving me a hug when she delivered them on the day – friendly, heartfelt service.

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Florrester shop exterior outside opening hours

Laura Cullen and Andy Simpson 7th August 2011

Us Dennistounites are lucky to have several wonderful places to eat too. Down at the Duke Street end of the Drives there’s Tibo – a cafe/bar/restaurant that would not look out of place in the West end. The platters are superb to share with some glasses of vino for a catch up & I love that their pizzas are all named after Dennistoun streets.

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Then there’s Nakodar Grill for when you really need a good curry. They do a deal before 7pm where you get half price mains – perfect for the after work Monday blues. I love their Aloo Tiki starter and Chasni curry.

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Just along the road there’s Coia’s – half restaurant and half takeaway, deli & ice-cream shop. This is the place to go for ice-cream on a sunny day and for some Italian grub down at this end of Dennistoun.

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Coia’s impressive ice-cream selection

Not forgetting the well regarded Tapa Bakehouse sitting just off Duke Street, with their freshly baked bread smell wafting out & drawing you in.

At the top of Dennistoun on Alexandra Parade I was sorry to see the departure of Albertos cafe recently. At the same time of Albertos sadly closing a new cafe has opened just off Duke Street called Gills Coffee House. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but the cakes look amazing so I will be paying them a visit very soon.

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Gills Coffee House

Further up in Dennistoun you’ve got Cafe Zecchino along from Alexandra Park but I’ve left my favourite place until last – Celinos. When I first moved to the Parade, Celinos was more like a takeaway with a few tables that was only open during the day. Now it’s a full blown cafe/restaurant/deli open until 10.30pm (10pm on Sundays).

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Celinos is my go to place in Glasgow & I feel very at home there. It can be bustling and relaxing at the same time and I love it. Everything I’ve had there is nice but I can particularly recommend the french toast at breakfast time, the penne salsiccia aurora, the macaroni cheese, the pizzas & the soprano hot roll. Most recently I had seabass with leek risotto from the pre-theatre menu & I’ve been thinking about it ever since – that’s how delicious it was. The deli counter has some gems as well – fresh bread, sicilian olives and an array of fancy meats & cheeses.

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If this place ever tries to shut down I will be outside protesting!

Now all that we need to make Dennistoun even better is for someone to buy the old tanning place at the start of the Parade & turn it into a chilled out bar – any entrepreneurs out there?

Luck Of The Irish

We are just back from a wee long weekend in Northern Ireland visiting our friends. We stayed with them in Coleraine & spent most of our time in County Antrim exploring and eating (of course).

It was my first time in Northern Ireland and I didn’t realise how cheap you can get flights from Glasgow, handy as we already have another trip booked for next year. It took an hour and a bit to drive to Coleraine from Belfast International. Luckily for us, we visited during the heatwave so it was nice and dry as we wandered about. It also meant that we could have a barbeque on the first night – I love a barbeque!

The following morning we all had sore heads so took our time getting ready and then drove the short distance to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy. Carrick-a-Rede is owned by The National Trust and is a rope bridge that was originally built & used by Salmon fisherman to get to the tiny island of Carrickarede, where it was easier to catch fish. It is about 30 metres high and is now reinforced so that tourists can see this beautiful spot & see views out to Rathlin Island, and even Scotland.

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Some info

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The View

I can vouch that it is a gorgeous place and a nice walk to do if you are in the area.

That night we ate in nearby seaside town Portrush, which was packed out because it was graduation weekend. We managed to get a table in 55 Degrees North – and a great table it was with views out to the water. The restaurant location really cannot be beaten.

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55 Degrees North

The cocktail list was not massive but the cocktails were yummy and it was nice to see them using fresh ingredients like real strawberries. To give you an idea of the menu, we had mussels and tear & share bread (complete with tapanade, garlic mayo & pesto) to start then seabass, seafood linguine, a burger & pork stack as mains.

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Seabass fillets with baby potatoes, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, chorizo & garlic butter

(£14.95)

The food here was fantastic, with the mussels & the pork stack being highlights.

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Pork medallions with parma ham, cheese, roast pepper & a pesto and balsamic drizzle

(£11.95)

The toilets were a let down with one lock broken and the other two having no loo roll but, in their defence, it was late at night. We felt that the service could have been a bit better but this is probably because we were not sat until about 9pm so everyone was clearing up. Saying that, I will go back to 55 Degrees North if we are in Portrush again because the food and views were so nice.

After dinner we fancied a drink so went to a nearby pub called The Atlantic Bar. It was very rustic (!) but there was a girl singing live who was first class so if you are passing on a Saturday night then pop your head in for a listen.

The following day we got a taxi to Bushmills Distillery to do the distillery tour and have a dram or two.

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Unfortunately for us it was silent season when we visited so the distillery was not in action but still do tours. The tour is £7 per adult and they take you around all of the machinery and explain the production of their whisky then give you a dram afterwards. I found it quite interesting but our friends have been before not in silent season and said that it was much better.

After the distillery we wandered through Bushmills (stopping at Bushmills Inn-we were on holiday after all!) and it looked like a lovely little place that would be an excellent choice for a quiet weekend.

We had been recommended to eat at Ramore Wine Bar in Portrush so went there for dinner on Sunday night. They don’t take reservations so you put your name down then go to the bar or terrace area until they call out your name. Luckily we did not have to wait for long as we were hungry. Once sat you choose your food then go to the bar to order, collect your cutlery then wait for your food. A bit like Nandos, really. When the food did arrive it was to die for and massive portions. The scampi was obviously homemade and had a tempura-like batter whilst the BBQ rib meat was falling off the bone.

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Scampi, mushy peas & tartare sauce (£8.95 without chips)

The other two both had pittas – a pulled pork pitta and a chilli beef pitta – and they were both raving about them.

I was very full by this point but there was no way that I was missing dessert after seeing the impressive dessert fridge when we walked in.

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The Tiramisu, St Honore cake, Salted Chocolate torte & peanut butter cheesecake all came in MASSIVE portions – we could have shared one between the four of us. I’m glad we didn’t though because we got to try so much deliciousness.

On our final day we headed back towards Belfast & spent some time wandering around the shops. I picked up a lovely ring in Avoca made by a local designer called Elephant Juice that is made out of a spoon – check out her website.

We had a grand weekend & were very sad to be leaving but I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be doing more Ireland exploring soon.

Glasgow Tapas Has Never Been So Good

To get over ‘hangover Thursday’ we decided that we needed a good, hearty lunch. I have been hearing good things about Malaga Tapas (near Shields Road underground) so we figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

I have to admit that from the outside this place was not selling itself to us but once we got inside this all changed. We arrived fairly late on by lunch standards so the restaurant was quiet but we were met with a smile and taken into the dining room. The first thing that struck me was how authentic I thought it looked- all dark wood and chunky seats. It felt homely which was perfect when you are feeling as weary as we were!

After ordering drinks, our waiter came over with a complimentary hor d’oeuvre of crusty bread with what tasted like a red pepper topping and olives. I felt like I was on holiday being given free food! I will admit that this small gesture won me over immediately.

The menu is extensive and they had a lunch deal on where you could choose any three tapas from the a la carte menu for £6.95. We eventually decided on six dishes and some bread to mop up the sauces.

The first dish to arrive was Pinchos De Ronda, which is marinated grilled chicken skewers served with a sweet chilli dip. It was full of flavour and the chicken was juicy – we knew we had come to the right place for lunch.

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When I read on the menu that they made their own Chorizo I knew that Chorizo Frito Al Vino Tinto was going to be my next choice. The paprika flavour in the chorizo was delightful and the red wine sauce complemented it perfectly.

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I needed some good stodge in my belly so we went for the Patatas Gratinadas – creamy gratin potatoes with cheese.

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We never go to a tapas restaurant without sampling the paella and this time we opted for the chicken paella. It was a thumbs up from us…full of flavour, with lots of peas and chicken to balance out the rice.

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As Mr S was feeling a bit delicate, we went for another skewered dish so he could avoid too much sauce. This time we plumped for the pork skewers that were marinated in garlic, cumin and red wine (Pinchos Morunos). This was similar to the chicken skewers, and was also a hit on the taste scale.

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Last but not least, I chose the Pollo Al Ajillo because I love garlic and it is a real treat having chicken oozing with oily garlic. This may have been my favourite dish – it won me over by having so many garlic slivers in the sauce that I could have a piece of garlic with every bite of chicken.

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We couldn’t fit in dessert, in fact we had to take some tapas home due to our wimpy hangover stomachs, but next time I will not be leaving without trying one. I was very jealous watching another table get their Creme Catalan blowtorched at the table.

Last of all I have to mention the gentleman who served us – he was friendly without being irritating or imposing and he made us feel thoroughly welcome.

I always have a spring in my step when I try out a new restaurant that meets my expectations so I am happy to say that I walked out of Malaga Tapas with a big smile on my face.

Malaga Tapas on Urbanspoon

Laura’s Glasgow Restaurant Favourites July 2013

I thought long and hard about what my first proper blog post should be and decided to share my favourite restaurants in Glasgow at the moment. I don’t doubt that this will change over time so I will probably update it at least annually.

Italian winner: La Lanterna http://www.lalanterna-glasgow.co.uk/
runner-up: Italian Kitchen http://www.italian-kitchen.co.uk/

Greek winner: Yiamas http://www.yiamasglasgow.com/
runner-up: Athena http://www.athenataverna.co.uk/

Chinese winner: Opium http://www.opiumrestaurant.co.uk/
runner-up: Dragon-i http://www.dragon-i.co.uk/

Thai winner: Thai Lemongrass http://www.thailemongrass.net/glasgow/
runner-up: Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn http://www.tikibarglasgow.com/

Scottish winner: Cafe Gandolfi http://www.cafegandolfi.com/
runners-up: Guys http://www.guysrestaurant.co.uk/
Fanny trollopes http://www.fannytrollopes.co.uk/
Roastit Bubbly Jocks http://www.roastitbubblyjocks.com/

Indian winner: Mother India’s Cafe http://www.motherindia.co.uk/index6995.html?action=cms.argylest
runner-up: Nakodar Grill http://nakodargrill.com/

Fish winner: The Fish People Cafe http://www.thefishpeoplecafe.co.uk/
runner-up: Chippy Doon The Lane http://www.thechippyglasgow.com/

Special Occasion winner: Ubiquitous Chip http://www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk/
runners-up: Stravaigin http://www.stravaigin.co.uk/
Cail Bruich http://www.cailbruich.co.uk/

Lunch winner: Celinos http://www.celinos.com/
runners-up: Cushion & Cake http://www.cushionandcake.com/
Ashoka Ashton Lane http://www.ashokarestaurants.com/Ashoka%20Ashton%20Lane/
Tea Rooms at The Butterfly & Pig http://www.thebutterflyandthepig.com/thetearooms/

Best For Groups winner: Viva Brazil http://www.vivabrazilrestaurants.com/glasgow.asp
runners-up: Soho http://www.sohoglasgow.com/index_1.php
Sapporo Teppanyaki http://www.sapporo.co.uk/restaurant-glasgow/

Bar/Pub Grub winner: Velvet Elvis http://velvet-elvis.com/
runners-up: The Butterfly & The Pig http://www.thebutterflyandthepig.com/
Bier Halle http://republicbierhalle.com/
Brutti Ma Buoni http://www.brunswickhotel.co.uk/eat.html

Leftovers (uncategorised) The Grill On The Corner (for Sunday lunch) http://blackhouse.uk.com/restaurant/glasgow/
Cafezique (good fresh produce for breakfast, lunch or dinner but thumbs down for the website) http://www.delizique.com/
The Left Bank (a mixture of cuisines) http://www.theleftbank.co.uk/
Number 16 (I just recently discovered this place and have only been once but food and service both got top marks from me) http://number16.co.uk/

(more…)

The Beginning

When I moved to Glasgow 11 years ago as a student I never thought I would still be here now. I fell in love with the city and all that it has to offer so I thought that I would centre a blog around this charming place.
I will also occasionally scatter other items in here such as holidays, toiletries and amazing websites due to my hereditary inability to keep anything to myself.
I am completely new to blogging so bear with me and my mistakes.

 

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Email girlaroundglasgow@gmail.com

 

(Please e-mail me for product or experience reviews – I love to try new products & places. Please not that these will be clearly labelled and reviewed as any other)

Girl around Glasgow Glasgow restaurants

Girl around Glasgow Glasgow restaurants