Once you can see past the big, loud (usually chain) places to eat in Glasgow, you find many wonderful little low-key restaurants full of locals. One of the aforementioned is a seafood place called Crabshakk. It took me a while to find this place – I had been told it was on Argyle Street (Finnieston) but they have the tiniest sign so I went past it without knowing numerous times. I viewed the menu online and it has an untraditional mix up of starters and mains so left me puzzled at first. After a few friends convincing me of it’s merits I tried to book unsuccessfully on two occasions before getting a table. We had to book a week in advance to get said table and were told that it was ‘a small table right by the door’. We took it anyway but when I arrived I was shocked that anyone could balance a meal on the shelf of a table in front of me. We’d be lucky to squeeze two plates and two glasses of wine on there so when my friend arrived we asked if there was anywhere else we could possibly go. Annoying customers I know, we had been told, but it really was teeny & it was going to limit us on what we ordered. They had a couple of free stools at the back of the bar so kindly let us move there (phew) but I’d advise anyone going here to book very early in advance.
We sat with the menu for a while but no decisions were forthcoming so after lots of questions for the waiter we ordered a bunch of food to share. The staff must get asked lots of questions because the menu has no details of how things are served, if they are accompanied by anything & sometimes how things are cooked. It is half intriguing, half annoying but I am far too inquisitive to just order dishes blind. I’d been wanting to try oysters so we ordered some as a pre-starter then some crab claws and queenies to start us off.
After a few questions on oyster eating techniques the oysters went down well and I liked the vinegarette that accompanied them. I’m glad to say that I’m now an oyster eater (in other words I’ve tried them on this single occasion and liked them). I felt like a right rah drinking prosecco and eating oysters but it was a birthday meal!
The crab claws were ordered because we saw the crab cakes go out to another table and they looked small but we fancied crab so went for the claws. We had been given the appropriate tools to get the meat out, always a good start. The meat was fresh and delicate whilst having a slighty sweet taste. I would definitely order them again. My only criticism was that the portion size was small for the price – it looks bigger but there’s not much meat in them.
The other starter was picked from the specials board – queenie scallops in a coral butter. This dish was the star of the whole meal! The portion size was appropriate, the queenies were cooked perfectly and the coral butter was moreish. We loved it and if it was on the menu all the time I’d come back and order it for lunch with bread.
Next to come were the fish and chips and the pasta vongole. The fish inside the batter was nice but the chips were not soft inside. They were really chunky and needed much longer cooking.
The vongole pasta was spaghetti with clams in their shells in a simple olive oil dressing and a hint of chilli. Just like the rest of the seafood, the clams tasted really fresh and had a great flavour. The rest of the dish was lacking flavour though, even after we had heavily seasoned it. We agreed that it needed more chilli, more garlic, more something to bring it to life.
Although that sounds like a lot of food the portions are not big so we managed dessert (we sat for at least 3 hours in total!). Cheese & biscuits for the birthday girl and panna cotta for me. The panna cotta came with some stewed fruit in liqueur. I can’t remember what the waiter said it was but it wasn’t sambuca but it tasted almost liquorice like. I enjoyed the panna cotta but not the fruit liquid.
There was enough cheese and biscuits to keep us sitting for a while so that we could be nosy and listen to the couple on a first date sitting next to us. In our defence the stools are really close to each other but they were a sweet pair.
I am going to go back to Crabshakk but only if I book far enough in advance to get a proper table and I’m going to order specials in the hope that they are as special as the queenies were.
N.B this visit was a few months ago but the post was delayed due to camera issues!