Month: October 2013

Meaty Mains At Meatbar

As I’ve said previously, the first time I visit a restaurant I am always full of hope – I want to enjoy it, have a new favourite and I’m willing them on to deliver the goods. On my second visit I am crossing my fingers that it wasn’t just a one-off and that I’m as happy as I was the last time that I left. I suppose it’s a bit like looking for a house though because the first viewing is all excitement and the second one is still excitement but also about practicality & checking other things.

With that said, last month Mr S & I returned to Meat Bar one rainy night after work because we had been hankering after the French Dip ever since. We snagged a booth again so we were off to a comfy start.


This time we also opted for starters as they all sounded as good as the main courses. We had the pit-smoked bourbon chicken wings with BBQ sauce and the crispy pig’s cheeks with piccalilli style veg. The chicken wings were – dare I say it – perfect chicken wings. They were meaty and tasty and the sauce had a lovely BBQ tang – definitely one that we would order again.


IMG_0698Wings £5


When I was choosing my starter I asked about the pig’s cheek and he described it to me as little cakes so I knew what to expect but I think the menu could do with some clarification on this. I thought the starter was nice but it just did not really do it for me. There wasn’t a lack of flavour or anything – I just was not crazy about the dish. I think I would have preferred the meat to take centre stage but the spices and piccalilli veg took over on the taste scale.



Crispy Pigs Cheeks £5.50


This time for main course we sampled the classic beef grinder burger (£7 + £1 for cheese) and the french dip smokehouse sandwich (£9). The french dip sandwich was as it was the first time – tender brisket beef with those onions – just delicious. I like that the bone marrow gravy comes on the side so that I can add as much or as little as I want. The only downside was that last time I am sure that the bun was toasted but this time it didn’t appear to be and it did affect the taste slightly as the bun couldn’t quite hold its own. Next time I will just make sure I ask for it to be toasted because I’m not sure if it is meant to be or not. The house slaw was as refreshing as last time and I’m glad that they serve it with this.



I completely agree with James VS Burger that the classic beef grinder burger is a tasty patty indeed. We both thought that it was full of flavour and the gooey cheese (add on £1) was delicious in it. Next time I think we’d go the whole hog (no pun intended) and add the pulled pork too for an add on at £2. Another menu item that I would be happy to recommend to people and will order again.




We chose the same sides as last time – the triple cooked fries & the dry rub crispy onion rings. The fries were crunchy on the outside & soft on the inside – excellent. The onion rings were not as good as last time but still nice. They were more in bits this time but last time they were big rings so I felt there was more crunch and outside rub than there was onion.



We were incredibly full again after our main courses so went without dessert. I had meant to try one of the meaty cocktails this time but decided against it on a school night.



So after our second visit we were full, happy and looking forward to our third. There were a few niggles – when isn’t there – but nothing even remotely big enough to put me off going again. One day I will try a meaty cocktail, one day.





My First time At Meat Bar can be seen here

Meat Bar on Urbanspoon


Gandolfi Fish Makes A Hat Trick

The older I get, the more I enjoy fish and the more experimental I get trying new types. Unfortunately as I want to eat more, there seems to be less than ever. A while ago I watched Hugh’s Fish Fight programme on TV and it made me start thinking about the types of fish I’m eating and which countries or waters they are being pulled out of. I ended up downloading the fish fight app that details what fish are plentiful and what to avoid because numbers are too low & we need to let them regenerate. I give myself a pat on the back when I use it, feeling smug that I’ve helped in some minute way.

The app also has a map of restaurants that specialise in fish & grades them on the fish they buy in the same manner. They have reviewed fifteen restaurants in Glasgow, and some produced rather surprising results. Some restaurants that are charging a pretty penny for their fish, & that you would expect to rate highly did not, whilst Yo! Sushi came up trumps. In second place came Gandolfi Fish in the Merchant City – a restaurant that has been on my hit list all year – and the only reason they did not score higher was due to a lack of information on their menu. As long as I feel reassured that they are sourcing responsibly then I don’t mind if they don’t detail it on the menu so I was pretty happy. The night before a long weekend to Inverness we could not be bothered to cook dinner or deal with the dishes afterwards so we headed towards Merchant City & decided to give Gandolfi Fish a visit. 


It was a wet and windy night when we arrived and I had a stinking cold so I wasn’t in the best of moods. This improved slightly when we were seated at a nice, roomy table in the middle of the bustling restaurant instead of a tiny one next to a draughty door (double doors to keep draughts out should be made mandatory in restaurants in my opinion!). We ordered drinks – beer for him and homemade Gandolfi St Clements for me. If only they could get in on Bar Gandolfi & Cafe Gandolfi’s St Mungo’s on tap then I would have a very happy husband. In the end we both decided on the pre-theatre menu as it was a Thursday and we should be at home eating beans whilst saving for the holiday but we are just no good at it.


After ordering our waiter brought us over some bread & butter and it occurred to me how underrated this gesture is now. I admit that I can be quite an excitable person, but I do always feel like a freebie like this in a restaurant lifts my spirits. Straight away it gives me a positive angle and keeps me entertained until dinner arrives. I know that this is why restaurants probably do it in the first place but, instead of being cynical, I embrace it. Homemade bread gets you extra brownie points but bought-in stuff will still make me smile.


The soup of the day was cauliflower & wholegrain mustard so I went for that to warm myself up. First of all I noticed that it was really smooth so that appealed to me as I like a blitzed soup. It was full of flavour and I really enjoyed it – definitely one that I would order again.


The other starter that we chose was the smoked mackarel pate with salad and toast. I like mackerel but the bones are a pain so this makes things much easier. It was smooth, rich and fishy so therefore a success.


We actually both chose the fish pie for main course. Not because the other options were sounding duff but just because we enjoy a well made fish pie & we thought this could be somewhere that would deliver just that. I enquired about what is in the pie because I don’t like salmon & was told that it would be no problem to make me one without. It also had white fish, prawn and scallops so there was going to be more than enough to keep me going. It was in a creamy sauce and topped with a buttery mash top that had Parmesan cheese melted on top. It was the ultimate comfort food that I had been longing for. Enough said.


Whilst we were in we also looked at the main menu & saw lots of dishes from it pass us. Everything certainly looked appetizing and we will return on a special occasion or payday for an a la carte feast.

We rounded the meal off with a tawny port (me) and a cognac (him) then jumped in a taxi from the handy rank outside. Resisting nipping up to Bar Gandolfi upstairs was difficult but we managed it this time.

Admittedly I would have ventured into Gandolfi Fish anyway, but Hugh made me see the place through different eyes & I appreciated the thought that goes into my food before it reaches my plate. Now who’s going to take up the challenge of a meat version…



Read about my visit to Cafe Gandolfi here:

Gandolfi Fish on Urbanspoon

The Hope Bar Official Launch Night

I was invited to new bar The Hope’s launch night last week in Glasgow so grabbed a friend and off we went. The bar is Maclay Inns latest venture and will be their 8th pub/bar in the city. I have previously drank in Dram, The Lee, The Bank & The Lansdowne and have been meaning to try out the newest one in the group. The Hope is located right next to Central Station and just off, you’ve guessed it, Hope Street. It was teeming down with rain but luckily it was warm inside & we were welcomed with a glass of fizz so all felt right again.


We arrived a 15 minutes late so never got a seat and missed the first lot of food – lesson learned for next time. Luckily the booze was flowing and they were handing round some pretty tasty gin & tonics. We took in our surroundings as we drank and decided that we liked the decor, especially the lights.


We managed to grab some bread, olives & hummus from a table so that we had something to soak the gin up but we needn’t have worried as food then began to be brought round on trays. We had spicy chicken sliders, beef sliders (no sauce or relish though!), spoons of prawn cocktail and chicken skewers.


The bar was busy and had a good atmosphere – I imagine that it will be packed on Friday & Saturdays. After a while we managed to bag a seat and then we spotted desserts coming out. We were not expecting dessert so our faces lit up at the prospect of something sweet to go with our drinks.



The invite-only launch night was being held at the back of the bar but the front of the bar was still busy, especially for a Thursday night. Again, we really liked the decor and I’m starting to feel old on account of how much I noticed & liked the lights! They were very pretty in my defence. I can report that the toilets were nice too – there’s nothing worse in a bar than bad toilets.



They do cocktails too so I’ll be back soon to try them out with the girls.

Allangrange Arms – Worth The Walk

For those of you who don’t know me, I was born & bred in Inverness and my family still live there so I make regular trips up the (dreaded) A9 for visits. In some ways not living there can have its benefits. I get to go home to mum and dad’s to be looked after, I appreciate the place more & I’ve lots of people to test restaurants for me so I know where is worth a visit. Last time I was up mum had chosen a secret place for dinner & all anyone would tell was that it was out of town. I learned in the car over that we were headed to Munlochy, which is just over the Kessock Bridge and up some windy roads. It’s an area that mum discovered out walking at the nearby Ord Hill, and I saw for myself a few days later the fantastic views over Inverness.


View from Ord Hill

If you don’t know the area then I’d make sure that you have a map or sat-nav at the ready. Once you get to Munlochy though, The Allangrange Arms is on the main road so nice & easy to find. A plus with eating out of town is the plentiful free parking which we took advantage of. There were lots of outside tables that looked perfect for summer afternoon but this certainly was not a sunny afternoon so we toddled inside. It was quiet on the Monday night that we visited but where isn’t on a Monday? Especially up Inverness way, where most people seem to save going out for the weekends (trust me, everywhere is packed on a Saturday).


We had booked a table anyway since there was five of us and a lovely table it was. All rustic looking with some cute candles and round the corner so we weren’t eating our dinner right in the middle of the pint supping lot. This is essentially a local pub for some people & I’m sure it gets its fair share of regulars. It seems like the sort of place that Mr S and I would take advantage of regularly if we lived up that way.


Table candles

We settled in and were given menus and offered drinks. We enquired about their ales on draft and within the selection was Happy Chappy Pale Ale from the Cromarty Brewing Co. This was the moment that I realised that I liked this place – local (tick), delicious pale ale (tick) & supporting little brewers (tick). Pale Ale is my newest alcohol love and Happy Chappy just so happens to be my favourite so far. The Allangrange also does buy one get one free cocktails Monday to Friday so we’ll try them next time.


As for the menu, there were more specials than staples, which I was hoping was a positive thing meaning fresh & seasonal ingredients. It was a hard decision with the starters because they had mussels, langoustines and scallops. In the end my sister and I shared the pan seared West coast scallops served with a chorizo, saffron and herb risotto. The scallops were obviously fresh and the risotto packed enough punch to deliver on taste but not drown out the scallops.


Scallops & Risotto Starter £7.95

The Cullen Skink starter was a winter warmer, thick with flavour and chunks of fish. My dad kindly let me sample some and I’d easily polish off a bowl with some crusty bread. So far so good.


Cullen Skink £5.95

Mum went for the smoked ham hock with apple & spinach salad which was served with wholegrain mustard and Highland Crowdie sauce. It was presented well on one of those slate plates and mum ate the lot saying it was yummy.


Ham hock salad £6.45

We ordered a bottle of red wine with the main courses as we were all having red meat. Unfortunately they did not have our first choice of Montepulciano in stock but their wine list had just been changed so that is understandable. We had a fruity Shiraz instead that was a very reasonable £15.95 a bottle.

For main course three of us ended up having the burger and two of us had the lamb shank. There was a vast selection to choose from including lobster thermidor, Cromarty brown crab, veggie curry & surf n turf but the Cullen’s all wanted the same things. The burgers were huge & consisted of a beef patty, sliced chorizo, pulled pork, bacon, cheese and onion rings all crammed into a bun. They were served with chunky chips and beetroot salad all on a long wooden board. Personally I don’t like being given these boards because there is not much room for moving things & putting sauce on the side but I was having the lamb shank and the burger fiends didn’t seem to mind too much. The burgers brought a lot of praise to the table but they were all wishing that they had swerved the starters so they had space in their bellies to finish it. The quality smoky bacon was appreciated & it’s nice that it was not just an afterthought. One out of the three of them commented that it was too wet so the bun fell apart but it maybe just needed a sturdier brioche bun.


Burger £12.95

The lamb shank was another homemade pub grub triumph in my eyes. The tikka masala sauce was rich and flavoursome, the meat was falling off the bone & the potato chunks were crispy. It’s the ideal dish that I want to be served in somewhere like The Allangrange. My only gripe is that I would have preferred mash with it but that is just my personal preference and I still loved the dish.


Lamb Shank £12.50


Lyonnaise Potatoes

We were full but with my sister & I spurring each other on we had some desserts anyway. I went for the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream. Unfortunately the brownie was quite dry and more like a cake minus the icing. Brownie to me should be gooey but it just wasn’t.


Brownie £5.50

She went for the creme brulee, which was flavoured with honey and white chocolate & served with homemade shortbread. I was dubious about the honey and white chocolate complementing each other but it was actually really nice.


Creme brulee £5.50

The favourite of the desserts was the millionaire shortbread cheesecake (£5.50) – it was just delicious and I was tempted to order one to take home. Unusually it arrived as a pile in a bowl as opposed to in a cake slice form and it was a gooey loveliness.



You’ve probably gathered from what has been written that I liked The Allangrange Arms a lot indeed. In fact, I wish that we had a pub near us that served food as nice as they do because I find most pub food to be rather disappointing. I found the location both endearing and inconvenient – endearing as it is a gorgeous spot but inconvenient because someone has to drive. I’m looking forward to my next trip up so that we can go back and wile away a Sunday afternoon next to the fire trying out their roast dinner. For The Allangrange is no longer a secret to me, and I plan to make the most of that.


There’s something about barbecue meat that I just love. Maybe it’s the carcinogens going to my head but meat generally tastes better on a skewer. But now the weather has gone back to British rain & wind there’s no chance of me getting my fix from my £10 old faithful BBQ that barely makes it through a big gust of wind on the balcony. So to get our meat fix, we decided on dinner with friends at Tropiero on Argyle Street. We had been meaning to try it for a while after being told by a few people that they like it better than the other Brazilian place up the road. It is a Brazilian buffet restaurant but, if you haven’t tried one of these before, Brazilian buffets are far superior to other buffets. There is the normal buffet cart area then there are gaucho chefs going around with massive skewers of meat. You have a small mat on your table which is green and you turn it round to red when you want them to no longer offer you meat. It is not Michelin star food, nor is it particularly pretty food but it is usually damn tasty and is a dining experience instead of just a meal.



When we arrived at 4.30pm on a Sunday night for our booking the restaurant was very quiet but most restaurants are at that in-betweeny time. There were seven of us and the quiet restaurant that just meant that there was more meat for us so we certainly weren’t complaining. We needed to be in and out by 7pm because we were going to The Stand comedy club afterwards to see a friend doing stand up and we left plenty of time reserved for meat eating beforehand. A gentleman (the manager I think) came over for our drink order and asked if we know how it all works. The drinks list centred around Caipirinhas in different flavours so Mr S had one of those, we had a bottle of red and some beers. The full meat buffet is £21.95 or £14.95 for vegetarians but, to be honest, if you are a vegetarian I wouldn’t bother – it is all about the meat here.


We went straight up to the hot buffet area, which mainly consists of traditional Brazilian stews. There was a black bean stew with pork in it that got the thumbs up and a couple of us tried the fish stew too. There was some spicy roast potatoes and cabbage with garlic to accompany all of the meat. My only criticism with the hot buffet is that the online menu tells you a selection of things that might be available and mashed potatoes was one of the offerings. It was not out during our visit and I really missed not having it with my dinner, having had it before at Brazilian buffets, so think that it should be made a staple that is always out.


The cold buffet had a variety of salad, vegetables & olives as well as pieces of baguette, breadsticks & sauces. Out of the choices, I preferred the couscous with cucumber through it, the roasted butternut squash, the coleslaw & the marinated mixed olives.


Now on to the important bit – the meats going around the tables on big skewers (tip-never load your plate with food from the buffet and then be too full to try them all). The menu shows fourteen meats and states that up to twelve will be available at any one time. I should have really written down the names every time they came over so that I’d know which ones we had but that’s the kind of behaviour that will ensure me no dining companions in the future so I refrained. I remember that the chicken offerings were chicken breast wrapped in bacon, chilli & garlic thighs and chicken hearts marinated in beer. I liked the chicken in bacon the most because it had lots of flavour and smokiness from the bacon. I passed on the (beef or pork?) ribs because I was too full at that point but the others seemed to enjoy them. The gammon joint and leg of lamb were also appetizing but my favourite non-beef meat had to be the pork sausages. They were garlicky, tasty and juicy-perfect for my barbecue experience.

From what I remember, I think there was only one cut of beef that wasn’t out because we tried a few different ones. First to reach our table was the diced beef marinated in garlic oil and I’m pretty sure that the top sirloin was next. We had the cap of rump, which is probably my favourite meat at a Brazilian buffet, and the only time I get to have this cut of beef. That is as far as my memory goes with the meat because after that they were also coming around with meats that we’d had before but I enjoyed all of it. I usually take my steak medium but will eat it from a mass of blood to well done so I don’t worry about how it is given to me. For those a bit more particular you can ask for a piece from the outside that is more cooked or wait for a bloody inside piece.


This place for us is a real treat of unapologetic gluttony, as you don’t tend to stop eating until you are full to bursting. If you are a small eater and don’t like the idea of doing this then I’d think that the experience won’t be as good for you. It’s a great place for groups with the dining experience being a good talking point but I wouldn’t plan a big night out afterwards – in fact, I’d wear the stretchiest clothes possible without looking like you’re wearing maternity pants.

Nobody considered dessert and we were out by 7pm to head over to The Stand as expected. The service had been attentive, which was nice because sometimes a quiet restaurant means poor service because staff are not necessarily on the ball as much. Tropeiro left me feeling satisfied and full…until next time I need my winter barbecue fix.

Tropeiro on Urbanspoon