Month: November 2013

La Lanterna

I have a list of restaurants that I want to try in Glasgow. In fact, I have a list of places that includes restaurants that I’ve been to before that I want to write about on here that I’ve raved to my friends about. As you can imagine, there’s not a small number of places on it but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to cross one off. I love to tell people about places that I’ve enjoyed – my dad does this too & I think I’ve inherited his inability to keep information like this to myself. Out of all the restaurants in Glasgow the one that I rave about the most is La Lanterna on Hope Street. I love the place and hardly anyone my age seems to know about it so I spread the word. All the time!

It’s a cosy restaurant tucked down some stairs with old fashioned décor and white tablecloths. It’s a traditional Italian that makes their own ravioli & tiramisu instead of buying it in and closes on a Sunday. They recently won Scotland’s Best Italian Restaurant at the Scottish Entertainment awards & last year they won Best Italian Restaurant at The Glasgow Restaurant Awards so I am not the only person who has noticed how good they are. On a personal note, La Lanterna has lots of happy memories for me – many family gatherings, engagement celebrations, honeymoon choosing & anniversary dinners have taken place here.

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As soon as we sat down we were brought over our free glass of fizz that they give you if you book online via their website. We took ages looking at the menu – everything sounds nice and it is a big menu so difficult to decide. The complimentary bread and butter arrived to stave off hunger so we could take our time. Eventually we decided on starter pastas and then the chateaubriand (it costs the same as two steaks and is always to die for).

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Mr S went for the spaghetti with king prawns & lobster tail in white wine & cream sauce (£7.95). For a starter portion they were very generous with the lobster meat & prawns, and the sauce bound the dish together without being overpowering or cloying.

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I chose the venison ravioli in a red wine & rosemary jus (£7.95). Almost every time I go to La Lanterna I have ravioli of some description because it is always tasty. I can vouch for three of the ravioli flavours on the main menu too, having only missed out on the goats cheese one because I don’t eat goats cheese. There are only a few restaurants in Glasgow that I know of that make their own ravioli so I like to take advantage of it when I can. This visit was no different – perfectly cooked pasta parcels with a rich, meaty filling. Luckily I saved a piece of bread to mop up the leftover jus.

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I was so distracted by the ravioli that I forgot to take a photo at the start so apologies for the messy, part-eaten photo.

We asked Chris (the owner) about which red wine would suit the chateaubriand and he recommended the Nero Di Troia, which went perfectly. The wine list is as extensive as the menu, ranges from £14.95 to £195 a bottle and has a whopping 35 reds to choose from – the staff have always been helpful in assisting us in what to choose.

The chateaubriand arrived at the table on a big platter and is served in front of you. It comes with mushrooms, tomatoes, leaves, sauté potatoes & a generous boat of red wine and meat juice gravy. The meat was melt in the mouth and the gravy was rich – this really is a sublime dish. The sauté potatoes are crunchy but I notice that they do chunky chips and potato purée with a few other dishes so I must ask for one of them next time to try for variation.

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At this point we usually have tiramisu – it is made in house & is my favourite in Glasgow – but decided to share the cheesecake (£4.95) this time. I’m glad we did because it was creamy but fresh with the strawberries and as good as the tiramisu.

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La Lanterna will remain to be one of my Glasgow favourites for the foreseeable future and I look forward to more happy memories.

 

 

 

You might also like: girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/glasgows-italian-kitchen/

 

La Lanterna on Urbanspoon

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Old School At Bier Halle

When I first moved to Glasgow I was 18 years old and claimed poverty as a student. Of course I realise now that this was not at all true and that spending all of my money on vodka & Topshop clothes instead of tasty, nutritional food was actually a choice (Super Noodles only cost 50p a pack back then-perfect). I didn’t often go out for food unless my parents were paying or if it was to the cheaper than cheap pub next to college. After I had been in Glasgow for a year or so, I started to branch out and find places that did a cheap deal, i.e. no more than £6 for food. There’s only one or two places that I would still eat in now that I went to back then – some have shut down, some have just gone a bit rank & some I’ve found better alternatives for. The Bier Halle in Gordon Street is one of those places that has proved a constant over the years. Most people my age seem to rave about their pizzas so I have it on good authority. My friend Phil & I used to go to the one upstairs on Sauchiehall Street next to the West Campbell Street car park before it shut down and after that we started going to the Gordon Street one.

 

The Bier Halle is down a flight of stairs just off Buchanan Street and is a busy little place seven days a week. It is a bar that you can go in to just for drinks but most people have a pizza or a hot dog. They do BOGOF handmade pizzas between noon and 10pm seven days a week. FYI – they don’t take debit/credit cards so pop over to the cash machine across the road before you go in. It is moody and atmospheric with low lighting and loud music. It does have a student-y feel about it but you also get a lot of 20 and 30 somethings coming in after work.

The pizza menu has quite a selection and some nice alternatives from your usual bar pizza choices.

 

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Mr S went for the meat Feast special, which had pepperoni, chicken & spicy merguez sausage on it. I usually have the chicken, mushroom and pesto one but this time I fancied the black pudding and chorizo special from the board. We also ordered a portion of stealth fries because we know from past experience that they are super tasty. The food arrived quickly and I have to say that it is generally very speedy at coming out of the open kitchen.

 

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My black pudding and chorizo pizza had a lovely crispy base and they certainly were not stingy with the toppings. Big chunks of black pudding and authentic tasting chorizo littered the cheesy base. If they ever changed the menu then I’d recommend that they put this on the main menu constantly.

 

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The Meat Feast pizza was also delicious and Mr S chooses it any time he sees it on the specials board.

The fries were crunchy and tasty but had too much salt on them and I would rather they left you to put your own salt on.

 

I got all excited when I saw Little Creatures Pale Ale as it is a personal favourite & we went to the brewery when we were in Australia. They also sell a mixture of flavours of super cheap schnapps that make me feel young again so I had a blackcurrant schnapps and lemonade. Mr S had a couple of different lagers from their extensive menu that lists beers by country.

 

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I wouldn’t normally say this, but in the interests of being honest, the service in here can be varied. In my experience there is not much smiling going on & it has always puzzled me because most servers live off their tips. It’s almost like it is in keeping with the cool vibe but I find it strange & I know that I am not the only one. It seems to have improved a bit in the last year & the waitress that served us during this visit was pleasant. The pizzas are too good not to go anyway.

 

The only difference with my visits to the Bier Halle now compared to my student days is that I don’t go to the Union afterwards. I normally go straight home and put my jammies on… more schnapps another day maybe.

 

 

 

 

Bier Halle on Urbanspoon

Edinburgh Zoo In Photos

I took these photos on a trip to Edinburgh Zoo recently.

Edinburgh Zoo is one of my favourite places in Scotland & I like to go once a year.

I am not a photographer and they were taken on my I-phone but I thought I would share them anyway

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Time For Some Culture…Chobani Culture

Last week I ate more yoghurt than I have in the last three months put together. Not that I’m complaining – I quite enjoy yoghurt but usually see it as a sugary indulgence so avoid putting it into my trolley in the supermarket. I do sometimes eat greek yoghurt in the morning with some fruit and honey but I’ve been working lots of mornings recently so breakfast has been shelved. Well, breakfast had been shelved until I got a charming e-mail from Amy at Chobani inviting me to a launch event but, as I could not make it, offering me some yoghurt to sample.

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I had never even heard of Chobani but my online research found that they are one of the biggest yoghurt sellers in USA and are slowly working their way around the world. They only started production in 2005 but, having now taken over America, 2012 saw Chobani hit the UK. They have a range of flavours now being sold in Tesco, Morrisons & Asda’s around the city that I hadn’t spotted yet but a few people have since said to me that they have seen it.

Unfortunately I could not get their UK website to load all weekend to find out more details – too many people showing an interest may have overloaded the site. All of the yoghurts that I was sent had less than 2% fat and no added sugar. This pleased me as I avoid flavoured yoghurt because yoghurt has so much natural sugar then the majority of them are teeming with added sugars & sweeteners. Another bonus is that they give 10% of profits to charity – they have a list of their charities online & I am hoping that as they sell more in the UK that they might also start supporting local charities over here.

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First things first, I wanted to know the price because there was no point in me getting hooked on something that cost a fortune. I found that the smaller pots (110g) that come in four packs retail around £2.29, the normal sized ones (170g) are about 89p and the mega sized about £2. This puts them in-line with the Benecol, Danio and Activia price wise so they are at the higher end of the supermarket scale.

On inspection of my delivery of yoghurt I liked the packaging and the pots seemed robust enough to last the journey to work without a yoghurt catastrophe. I was sent four packs of the black cherry & pineapple and individual 170g pots of the lemon, passionfruit & raspberry along with a large pot of the plain strained yoghurt.

I can tell you outright that the passionfruit was my favourite and pineapple was my least favourite. I just didn’t find the pineapple sweet enough and it’s not really a yoghurt flavour that I’d pick.

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The lemon one was pleasant and the black cherry went down well at a sampling session with workmates. I kept the raspberry one for myself & I am glad I did because it was my second favourite.

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I tried the plain one instead of my usual greek yoghurt with fruit and honey for breakfast & it was a worthy substitute. Again, it wasn’t sweet but I would much rather add my own honey than buy something full of sweeteners.

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I thought they would all be good for dieters because they were thick and substantial enough as a small meal or large snack. Perfect timing really because I’m sure I’ll be needing a substitute on my return from holiday for all the coffee ice-cream I’ll undoubtedly scoff.

I Meet Bread Meats Bread

Glasgow has seen a flurry of American-y restaurants open this year and I’m making a plucky effort to get my way around them all. It’s battle of the burger, menus, quality beer and triple cooked fries. The latest restaurant to join this trend is Bread Meats Bread, which is in a fab location just off Buchanan Street. Over the last few weeks I’ve been peeking in through the window every time I pass but they had it well hidden until the launch day. On Tuesday night I finally got to see the place at the launch & weigh up my opinions on the newbie in town.

Exterior

Exterior

I arrived early on the night so that I could take a few photos and bag us a good seat. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows along two walls & is on the corner of St Vincent Street and Renfield Street so there’s a real city vibe when you’re sitting inside. There’s chunky tables and booth seats made by Glasgow Wood Recycling, which is a social enterprise that create furniture by hand from locally reclaimed timber. I loved the big cow on the wall that screams carnivore to me (not actually) and the animal details in the seating.

Interior

Interior

But lets face it – the food was what’s bringing us there and I was just hoping that it was going to live up to my high expectations after so much chat. After being given some fizz and chatting to the lovely staff, we starting scrutinising the menu.

Menu

Menu

Burgers are split into three sections – house blend, red label (made with spicy n’duja sausage) and black label premium. There’s even a surf and turf burger that combines the black label premium burger with lobster meat. We tried a variety of sampler sliders to get a good overview of their products. The Spartan red label was my favourite with cooling tzatziki to mellow the n’duja. The house burger was also rich & satisfying but the boys favourite was the black label burger.

The Spartan

The Spartan

Breaking free from the usual bun, BMB have the trendy bun of the moment, brioche, along with the potato bun (my favourite) and the pretzel bun (holds toppings well). We tried them all and liked them all, and when I go back for a proper visit I’ll find out if they survive a full burger without breaking. We learned that all of the buns are made at Bavarian Bakery in Kirkintilloch & the owner was at the launch checking how they all went down.

After the burgers we got to sample some sandwiches from the menu. First came pastrami on rye bread with mustard – the pastrami was so tasty and my only criticism is that I would have liked it sliced a bit thinner.  We tried the beef brisket with cheese & house gravy and it was tremendous. The beef was falling apart and the cheese & gravy flavours matched perfectly – definitely one of the favourites. Next came a gourmet (hot) dog sampler that we really liked. By this point we were truly convinced that all of the meats would be delicious.

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During the meat-fest we also got to taste the triple-cooked chips and sweet potato chips. The sweet potato chips were described by one of my party as ‘immense’ so that sums it up really.

Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

The menu also has pulled chicken sandwiches, a meatball sandwich & porchetta ciabatta sandwiches. I’m also interested in the grilled cheese with the soup dip – it sounds so American and a great lunch treat. But the thing on the menu that I want to try the most is the poutine. It is basically chips, cheese curds & gravy and is extremely popular in Canada. I’ve never had cheese curds before and I love trying new things so hopefully a new indulgence for me.

Love the seat decor

Love the seat decor

The menu poses a big problem for me – there’s so much savoury food that I want that I don’t know how I’ll ever fit in a dessert. Even if we share one between four, or just have an ice-cream cone, I am determined to try one. The smashed caramel brownie & the glasgownut (a doughnut and croissant mash-up) both sound too good to miss. I’m sure they’ll go delightfully with a bottle of Blue Moon or Brooklyn lager.

Favourite beers

Favourite beers

In short, we were very enamoured with Bread Meats Bread and, before we’d even left the building, had planned our return trip on Sunday. Fingers crossed we’ve got a new favourite.