Working in a busy restaurant robs me of most weekends so there’s nothing I like better than a lazy Monday off work and somewhere nice to eat. The Merchant City is a pleasant walk from our flat so we quite often meander down there until a lunch menu, pre-theatre or amazing sounding dish catches my eye. There’s certainly enough choice with over forty places that serve food in this tiny area. We had a fantastic meal in Cafe Gandolfi with the in-laws back in April so we felt that we wanted to go back and sample the other goodies on offer.
In true lazy Monday style, we never arrived to Cafe Gandolfi for lunch until about 3pm. This has happened so often that myself and a friend have renamed this time as ‘linner’ – it’s an in-between meal like brunch but between lunch and dinner. Many restaurants in Glasgow close after lunch and don’t reopen until around 5pm so they are no good for linner but most places in the Merchant City stay open making it the perfect destination. Cafe Gandolfi looks reassuringly homely and a great place for a casual Monday meal.
I love the chunky wooden tables that were commissioned just for them and the big tables are laid out in such a sociable way that it makes me want to come in as part of a large group. It was quiet when we arrived due to the time of day but they still had five tables in so it was ticking over.
I was tempted to have the scallop special but last time that I came in I had the special instead of the chicken and I was determined to try the chicken this time but I love the sound of the courgette flower. I haven’t been able to try one of these yet but they look great and seem to be the new thing in cooking.
Gandolfi scores brownie points with Mr S because they sell St Mungos lager on tap from the local West brewery (he is a big fan). I would highly recommend taking a trip down to West for a try of their selection of Glasgow brewed beers or you’ll find St Mungos in several Glasgow bars & restaurants. I didn’t fancy an alcoholic drink so I went for their home-made St Clements juice. The only point I would make on the drinks is to make sure that you order them before you need another because some drinks have to come from the bar upstairs so we waited a wee while for these.
As I said before, I had almost certainly decided on the chicken when we went in but I looked through the menu nonetheless. All of the starters sound delicious and there is an array of main courses to choose from.
We were just going to have main courses but the Arbroath Smokies were delicious last time so we shared one. They bake them with tomatoes. cream and parmesan & serve them with toast fingers and salad. The smokies were as good as the first time and I could easily polish off two of those instead of having a main course next time.
Arbroath Smokies £7.50 (apologies – we started eating before taking a photo!)
Mr S chose the New York Pastrami with cheese for his main course. It came as an open sandwich on sourdough bread with the pastrami on top followed by mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. He said it was fabulous and the ultimate comfort food with the cheese on top. It is also a nice touch that the salads come undressed and then they offer you house dressing as a choice instead of the salad arriving soaked in oil.
New York Pastrami £12.50
My dish was a home-made chicken kiev that came with creamed potatoes, sugar snap peas & a beetroot and radish salsa. It arrived at the table oozing with butter and it was indeed the rich dish that I had been expecting. I usually veer away from ordering chicken in restaurants because I always think of chicken as an everyday meat & half the time it arrives overcooked but the idea of a chicken kiev transported me back to my childhood. Having eaten in Gandolfi a few times now I knew that the chances were that it would be miles better than the kievs I ate as a child but it provided enough nostalgia to prompt me to order it. The chicken was juicy and tender so that worry was swept away after the first bite. The salsa was more like a coleslaw minus the mayo than what I would call a salsa, and the flavours went really well with the dish and provided enough freshness & crunch to cut through the butter. It was the sort of dish that you have to be in the mood for in my opinion (I was) due to its hearty nature.
Gandolfi Chicken Kiev £16
No desserts were ordered this time but the time before we tried the malteser pot, crème brulee & the baklava and I remember them being enjoyable.
Gandolfi also offers you the best of both worlds with the ‘cafe’/restaurant part downstairs and the bar, which also serves food, upstairs. They also have clean, modern toilets with nourishing handsoap. It is amazing how much of a rarity this is and I like nice toilets in a restaurant.
It is not cheap but all of the ingredients seem to be as fresh as you’ll get so I can understand that this costs money. The bar upstairs also provides somewhere to sip on a cocktail or sup a beer after your meal, so you don’t need to go searching for anywhere in the rain. Again, it’s not Glasgow’s cheapest bar but they have a large spirit collection, friendly, knowledgeable staff and the Parmaviolet Martini’s are to die for.
Read about my visit to Gandolfi Fish here: https://girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/gandolfi-fish-makes-a-hat-trick/