Month: January 2014

Chip Brasserie

I remember as a teenager being told about The Ubiquitous Chip after the Interior Designer at my parents work took a client there. The food sounded expensive but magnificent, scary but brave and over everything else it sounded like an experience rather than a meal. This piqued my interest even back then. Fast forward to a few years ago when I started working, and drinking, in the west end of Glasgow. The Chip was a whole new place to me – somewhere far more casual than I’d expected that I would go for a gin or glass of wine after work because it stays open later. It was not until a year and a half ago when I had my first meal in The Chip Brasserie that I remembered how magical I had thought it sounded as a teenager. I can still remember the pigs cheeks I had on that visit in their rich jus – my mouth is watering.
We enjoyed it so much that we booked The Chip restaurant for our Christmas Eve meal 2012 & it was every bit the experience that I’d wanted it to be.
At the end of last year a friend and I visited the brasserie again as a post Pilates treat (yes, I am that kind of exerciser that I need a treat afterwards) and I then decided that it is firmly one of my Glasgow favourites.

 

photo(6)

 

The Chip are now in their 43rd year of trading so they must be doing something right. It is multi-faceted with the posh restaurant, not quite casual brasserie, upstairs pub where you can also order from the brasserie menu for a more laid-back occasion, downstairs mainly standing traditional pub and the wee chip (round the corner but still the same building) that reminds me of a nicer old mans watering hole. My only complaint is that they share the same four ladies toilets – not my idea of fun on a stowed Saturday night. It’s such an old building that they are working with that I half forgive them but the drinks aren’t cheap so it really should be addressed.

 

 

Anyway, back to our brasserie treat night. We opted to forgo starters and all the mains sounded nice. I’d heard their haggis was worth trying and the mullet special used some of my favourite ingredients but I chose the pheasant special because it was similar to what Mr S had when we dined in the restaurant and I had been quite jealous of him when I tasted it.

Tender breast meat & earthy spelt and root veg casserole with a sherry gravy – it was the most Scottish dish I’d had all year. If I was Greg from Masterchef I would have said that it took me in from the cold like a big hug and it was solid cooking.

 

Pheasant £12.95

Pheasant £12.95

 

My friend tried the chicken, not because they are unadventurous, but because if the description of the roasted Ayrshire chicken breast dish on the menu translated then it was going to be a less than average choice. And it did. Phew.

 

Chicken £13.95

Chicken, turned potatoes, spinach, corn £13.95

 

Our first dessert was from the specials menu. As soon as I saw chocolate ganache I was having it but the dish was more than just ganache. Malt cream, milk gel and chocolate ganache were accompanied with chocolate crumble – very indulgent. For such a chocolately dish it was not horribly sweet or cloying, I was really pleased with it.

 

Ganache, malt cream, milk gel & chocolate crumble £5.45

Ganache, malt cream, milk gel & chocolate crumble £5.45

 

 

The chocolate tart, burnt orange sorbet & chocolate sauce was sublime. especially the sorbet. It was one of those desserts that you want to make lots of enjoying noises whilst you’re eating but remind yourself that you’re in public so you just make faces instead.

 

Chocolate Tart £5.45

Chocolate Tart £5.45

 

The presentation for each dish is carefully thought out to make you want to dive in, although sometimes I feel bad ruining such a pretty plate. I’m surprised none of the staff came over to check everything was okay with us just staring at the food.

I have always found the staff friendly and this visit was no exception. Our waitress was on hand when we needed her but was also happy to let us sit chatting for a while after eating.

 

We got gift vouchers for The Chip for Christmas so we’ll be heading back soon but we can’t decide whether it will be to the restaurant or brasserie…there are worst decisions in life to make I guess!

 

 

 

Ubiquitous Chip on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Pinto – Queen Streets Hottie

Two of my best and oldest friends moved to Glasgow at the same time that I did 11 and a half years ago- it seems like a lifetime ago now. We made sure that we took advantage of ‘the big city’ and all that it offered us. I have many good memories of Glasgow with them, not least living in a cupboard in their Partick flat for a few months! They moved back to Inverness 15 months ago and I miss them immensely, not as much as Celino’s I imagine (regulars is an understatement). They have been back to visit and the last time they were back we arranged to meet up for lunch. There are so many new places here and I was excited to tell them about all of them. Even although the conversation was over text messages I could tell that they were holding something back & it turns out that out of everywhere down here they were really missing Pinto on Queen Street. I had never been to Pinto before – I guess it falls into that no mans land for me where the canteen style of it doesn’t appeal for a girly lunch but when I want that more relaxed style of place we tend to go somewhere in the car so avoid the city centre. I had always wondered about it so this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

 

IMG_1916

 

Takeaways in Glasgow have been given a re-vamp in recent years with openings of places such as Buddy’s, Gandolfi Fish To Go, Taco Mazama and Delizique. Unless I have been drinking far too much alcohol, I do not want a stodgy mess put in front of me. Just because it is takeaway food does not mean that it should taste bad. So I was hoping for more quality, less slop from Pinto. I did some research before the day by going on to their website & learned that their whole concept was based around healthy Mexican street food. ‘No freezers, no microwaves’ is proudly plastered on the menu so I was looking forward to some tasty, homemade food. I would be interested to know if they make everything on the premises because this is more important to me than if a business uses a microwave. I am not a fan of the idea of things being bought in ready made so I hope that the no freezers, no microwave idea also means that everything is homemade because fresh can still be bought from external chain companies.

I met my friends at the door, big hugs galore and then they began to educate me on the Pinto experience. We chose a table next to the window and discussed the food choices. Two of us then queued to order because I wanted to look at the menu because there were none on the tables. It was really busy because it was just after 12pm so trying to read the menu without getting in other people’s way was a bit of a feat and I’m glad I had someone with me that knew what they were doing. I ended up choosing a burrito as the other two were raving about them.

Once we reached the counter we grabbed a tray and told the first person our order. This is one of those build your own type things so you choose your basic item – burrito, soft taco, hard taco, salad, nachos or bare burrito (no wrap). Inside you can have chargrilled chicken, chargrilled steak, barbacoa beef, slow cooked pork or flash fry veg. Then you decide on your toppings from cheese, jalapeno, rice, pinto or black beans, salsa (there are 4 types of salsa) and sour cream. After a lot of questions (the poor staff weren’t expecting a clueless me) I had a slow cooked pork burrito with pico de gallo, cheese, rice, pinto beans and sour cream. In for a penny, in for a pound!

 

The finished article £5.45

The finished article £5.45

 

My friends had almost the same but with spicier salsa/jalapenos so I was really going with their recommendations. I chose a Desperados to wash it down with as it seemed fitting then we paid up and took our tray back to our table. It was the first takeaway-but-with-seats type of place that I’ve been to that sells beer and I enjoyed that option.

My burrito was jam packed with fillings and it took me a minute to figure out how to eat it without making too much of a mess. It was spicier than I expected so if you only like very mild things then I wouldn’t recommend it. I can cope with medium spice and I’d say that’s the level of spice that the burrito reached but I definitely needed the sour cream to calm it down.

 

Not pretty but it delivered on taste

Not pretty but it delivered on taste

 

Mexican food never looks very pretty and this was no exception but it was tasty and filling. The main ingredient of pork dominated the taste but I could also taste the coriander in the rice and the beans. I don’t have much to compare it to in burrito terms but I enjoyed it. It offered optimal value for money at less than £6 and it was so big that I couldn’t finish it.

The company have also opened another Pinto on Gordon Street but it is smaller than the first one with only a couple of window seats. I am no good eating Mexican food on the move because I find it too messy so I would not use that one but they seem to get their fair share of office workers and students.

I would go back to Pinto if I was looking for a very casual and quick feed. After the school dinners delivery, you find yourself with some tasty food indeed. Post vino food has just received an upgrade.

Pinto Mexican on Urbanspoon

Princes Squares Spanish Gem – Barca

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll gather that I am a fairly loyal customer once you’ve got my attention. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the excitement of a new place, but going somewhere that I know what to expect leaves me feeling content. If we don’t go back to these places then they won’t be there to go back to so it is important as well. On one of my many Christmas shopping days I met Liz (loves good food & gin) and we were looking for somewhere near the shops in the city centre to eat. We went through the usual “Greek?”, “I don’t fancy Greek”, “I don’t fancy Indian” rigmarole and decided on tapas so made a beeline for Princes Square. I always know that Christmas is coming when I go into Princes Square because the decorations feel so magical. I miss the old traditional decorations they had but the new ones still do the job. Even although Princes Square is a shopping centre, it plays host to some fantastic eateries. None of this school dinners style malarkey-more cocktails, rib-eyes & macchiatos. Barca has been there for a long time and I first went about five years ago. It covers three of my needs – near the shops, cheap enough for a spur of the moment and tasty food. They do a few deals online so I tend to book through an external site but forgot this time.

 

photo(5)

 

It was fairly quiet when we arrived so there were seats left on the balcony but this area busies up quickly so I’d specify it when booking if you really want to sit there. We ordered some beers to kick us off – a Sagres for her and a Desperados for me – then a selection of dishes from the a la carte menu.

We ordered barra gallega con salsas (£4.50) – crusty bread that comes with aioli, extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar, red mojo sauce (tastes like paprika) and green mojo sauce (tastes like coriander) because we were hungry and wanted something immediate. The dips are worth the extra money – so moreish!

IMG_2053-001

 

Shortly afterwards our food started arriving with my gambas pil pil (£5.95) coming first. It is such a simple dish but one of my Spanish favourites and their addition of paprika only makes it better. My only suggestion is that I’d love more garlic slivers in the pan to mop up with bread.

IMG_2054

 

Liz’s manchego frito (£4.75) was the ultimate treat dish of Spanish manchego cheese in a crumb with a spicy tomato dip – all gooey and cheesy, yum.

 

IMG_2052-001

 

Chuleta de cordero (£7.95) came as two big lamb cutlets with a sweet fig and honey sauce – another one to mop up with bread as you can see in the photo!

 

IMG_2051-001

 

As a special they were doing turkey and cranberry croquettes (£5.95) so we thought we would try them out. They were really nice and I’d love to see them on the menu even although it is a festive filling.

 

Since I have an infatuation with garlic and olive oil, I also chose champinones al horno (£4.95), which are flat cap mushrooms baked with the aforementioned. The dish had been executed well – the mushrooms still had a slight firmness and weren’t drowned in the garlicky oil.

IMG_2055-001

 

Patatas bravas (£3.75) completed our spanish feast and added on some little needed carbs but were enjoyable all the same.

 

It was meant to be a quick dinner but we ended up sitting chatting for a few hours in the nice surroundings. Our waitress was friendly and did not seem to mind as it was quiet. The perfect post-shopping unwind.

 

 

Barca Tapas and Cava Bar on Urbanspoon

My Glasgow Hogmanay 2013

New Years Eve (or as us Scots call it, Hogmanay) is traditionally a big party night with plenty of drams to keep everyone going. The last couple of hogmanays have been quiet for me with work but this year I decided to arrange a big get-together with some friends of ours. We had friends come from London, Aberdeen, Belfast & Kirkcudbright so I needed a foolproof plan to make the night a success for everyone. After lots of group messaging, it was decided that we would go to Number 16 on Byres Road for dinner and to the Ashton Lane Street Party afterwards.

We were booked in at the restaurant at 5.30pm, partly because of the availability that the restaurant had left and partly because we wanted to arrive at the lane early so that we could all get seats. Number 16 had a special hogmanay menu on with three courses and a glass of fizz for £29.95 – an absolute bargain on hogmanay.

 

IMG_2342

 

We enjoyed all of the food and had a fantastic night so I thought I’d share some photos of the grub for the foodies out there.

IMG_2335

Chicken liver & fois gras parfait

I never tried this so I can’t comment on it but the empty plate told me it was enjoyed.

IMG_2333

Pork belly starter

 

I have eaten the pork belly main course in here before and this starter was like a mini version. Three or four people that I have been chatting to about this restaurant mentioned the pork belly dish so it is not just me who loves it. I hope that they never take this off the menu.

 

Venison main course

Venison main course

 

I had the venison for my main course – it was perfectly cooked and tender and I loved each flavour in the dish. My only gripe was that it was a bit sweet for me so I would have preferred less of the sweet stuff on the plate and more puree or a savoury element.

 

Seabass

Seabass

 

The seabass was a close second for me when choosing what to have because I loved the sound of it but my friend who had it said it was delicious.

 

Beef

Beef

 

The beef was another dish that sounded fantastic – in all honesty I could have picked any dish of the hogmanay menu and I would have been happy.

 

Panna cotta

Panna cotta

 

The only reason that I never chose the panna cotta is because I had poached fruit with my main but it went down well with the others.

 

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

 

The cheesecake was rich and tasty, and the peanut praline gave the dish a nice change of texture. I was sad to see that the (best I’ve ever eaten) sticky toffee pudding was not on the menu but this made up for it. Our waiter was also very helpful with tweaking the dish for Mr S so that it did not contain nuts. I really respect restaurants who make dishes that the nuts can be removed from, rather than lacing the main element with nuts leaving allergy sufferers little choice on the menu.

 

Except from a drinks spill and momentarily setting a napkin on fire (!) the meal was a success and we were ready for continuing our night at Ashton Lane.

 

It was about 8.30pm when we arrived and the entrances to the lane were all closed off with stewards swapping tickets for wristbands. We made a beeline for The Ubiquitous Chip, our favourite pub on the lane. There were a few smokers in our group and it was a mild-ish night so we sat on the roof terrace, where we managed to pull together enough tables for the fifteen of us. The rain stayed off and the outside heaters stayed on so we ended up spending all night here. The bar was stowed as expected but we were just glad to get seats because it filled up shortly after we arrived.

Ashton Lane

Ashton Lane

 

We went downstairs for the bells and out into the lane. I think everyone in all the pubs had done the same – we were like sardines and getting shoved about. It did make for a good atmosphere though. At the bells there was a massive cheer, lots of hugging & kissing and we did a wee rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Unfortunately you can’t actually see the fireworks when you’re standing on the lane so we danced a bit to the music that the DJ was playing on the lane and headed back inside. Once we got up to the terrace we caught the last of the fireworks because we were higher up so could actually see them.

 

photo(3)

 

I had a cracking time at Ashton Lane but it was 99% down to the company and not the event. We paid £25 each to get on to the lane which is normally free, and the only differences were an outdoor DJ, fireworks we couldn’t see, a massive toilet queue and a long wait at the bar. I suppose it is part and parcel for hogmanay but I still think the ticket price is too expensive – they could at least include a drink on entry for that price.

 

Luckily for us, we had arrived early to get seats and there were lots of us so great craic. After that it was all back to ours for some dancing in the living room and cocktails. Happy 2014!

 

 

Barolo Grill Gets Me Out Of The Winter Chill

Last month I was out doing some Christmas shopping so I decided to reward myself with a mulled wine from the Christmas market at St Enoch. It all went downhill from there! I gave up on the shopping and Mr S decided that he was going to take me out for dinner. Our normal haunts were fully booked so we thought that we’d try Barolo Grill on Mitchell Street. We have been in once before when it first opened with my in-laws and I remember the pasta being nice, especially the crab carbonara. The restaurant is owned by the Di Maggio’s group, who seem to be taking over Glasgow with their chain of eateries. I’m not a huge fan of Di Maggio’s but I like Cafe Andaluz and we have been meaning to go back to Barolo. When I went on to their website to get the phone number to book, the first thing I saw in big, bold letters was “Newest addition to the vibrant culinary scene in Glasgow city centre”. I went two years ago so time for a website update perhaps? Besides that the website is easy to use, with lots of up to date menus to peruse.

 

IMG_2402

 

Walking into the restaurant we were greeted immediately by the manager & were seated near the back in a booth seat. I don’t know why a booth seat always seems better but it does so it was a positive first impression. Visually I really like the place – it is slightly dark and cosy looking. It was almost full when we went in at 7pm, with a mixture of couples, after work’ers, Christmas parties and one or two families so it was fairly loud but our booth sheltered us from that.

 

IMG_2256

 

 

We were deciding on wine when a helpful young waiter noticed us looking at the wine list and stopped to ask what we were eating. He then recommended the Primitivo IGT Barocco, which we went for. I thought it complimented the food so it was nice to see that he knew what he was talking about. To eat we shared some foccacia then I chose the lamb and Mr S picked the rib-eye with chips.

The rib-eye arrived medium-rare like he wanted it and it was thick so it had not dried out at all. It was on a bed of vegetables and the chips were delicious. You can choose to have a sauce with the steaks (£2.95 extra) so he went for the porcini & marsala sauce but when it arrived it tasted strongly of vanilla. I tasted it too and it had the usual sweetness that comes with marsala, I couldn’t taste porcini at all but it had an overwhelming flavour of vanilla. Fine for a dessert but definitely not a match for a steak. We got our waitresses attention and told her so she said that she would get another. When she returned with a second one it tasted exactly the same as before so we just shared my lamb sauce because he was halfway through his steak by then. My concern with the sauce is that, in my opinion, the chef should have tasted it and not sent more out. I only hope that’s not how it tastes all of the time.

 

IMG_2259

 

 

My lamb, on the other hand, was a strong dish. The meat was pink, the fondant potatoes were soft and the sauce was delicious. The sauce tasted of natural juices but was thicker and glossy. The lamb was resting on garlicky broad beans & tomato. All in all, it was a dish that I enjoyed.

 

photo(3)

 

 

We ordered coffees and the bill and we had not been charged for the sauce, thank goodness. A manager came over & took our card payment but did not speak the whole time he was at the table – this was the only time that I did not feel like a valued customer!

 

Then we finished our wine, enjoying the surroundings. It really is a nice place to sit and I’d love to come back with my family. I’ll pop in once before that to ensure the Marsala sauce was a blip because there’s nothing worse than enjoying a meal then taking someone back and it doesn’t live up to expectations. Fingers crossed for Barolo.

 

 

 

Barolo Grill on Urbanspoon