Every so often a restaurant opens that I get really excited about – somewhere that I know in my gut will be marvellous. In 2013 this restaurant was The Gannet on Argyle Street. I love the name and we were looking forward to being Gannets for the night. It’s hardly surprising that it is located in Finnieston where all the cool kids play. Two renowned chefs, Ivan Stein & Peter McKenna, got together with a business partner to open this dainty bar and restaurant. I heard much about it online before it opened but there was no pre-opening blogger night that I know of so I never found the right time to visit until February.
The reason for my delay in writing is because I felt I needed more time to weigh up my thoughts on the place and then March madness happened and suddenly it was almost two months ago. So now I’ve decided to just write and see what comes out.
We booked our table almost three weeks in advance because we were going on a Saturday night and on the Saturday at noon we received a voicemail to confirm the booking. I like efficiency so this was a plus but when Mr S phoned back we were told that the table was to be back in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Now, I’ll just get the rant out of the way now because this really gave me a negative impression before I had even visited. If we had been told when we originally booked the table then I completely understand but telling us on the day is a bit like when you get a letter from the bank changing the terms and conditions on your bank account and suddenly charging you for something new – you never signed up for that and feel hard done by. After a discussion we called back and asked if it would be possible to come in half an hour earlier than we had booked for so that we didn’t feel rushed and they said that was fine.
On arrival the place was buzzing and is obviously popular. We were seated upstairs in a cosy little bit with four tables.
Now the important food stuff. A starter of scallops, celeriac, chicken wing and sauce stuck out for me in the menu. I like all of them individually but would they taste as good on one plate? In my opinion yes they did. Rich celeriac purée muddled with the meaty, salty wing and the almost sweet scallop. There was also a ring of celeriac on the plate that provided a bit more bite but I would have preferred more purée. Saying that, I thought this was a fabulous starter.
Crisp rabbit croquettes with piccalilli arrived as 6 bite sized squares of rabbit with the piccalilli around about them. They were indeed very crispy little game bites and the piccalilli was robust enough to match them.
The special starter when we were visiting was langoustines and, if I remember correctly, were priced at £11.50. What was on the plate was good – it was simple so displayed the fresh seafood at its best. It was just a tiny portion and this eclipsed all else because you were left feeling unsatisfied. Three langoustines came out of the kitchen instead of the usual five or six that restaurants dish up. There was also no tools offered to help get the meat out from the claws so it was difficult to take advantage of what was there.
We had a delicious Sauvignon Blanc to wash everything down with and to keep us happy whilst waiting for the main courses. I was looking forward to my slow cooked loin of Ardunan farm pork, potato, spinach, crisp salsify and pork sauce. When it arrived I tucked straight in and knew straight away that I had made the right choice. The pork itself was shoulders above any pork loin that I had tried – it had a beautiful flavour and was cooked perfectly. The plate was expertly balanced and really showcased the chefs cooking.
There was a fish special ordered but I forgot to write the description down so fish lovers can just lust over the photo. It was met with positive reviews anyway and that is the important thing.
Last to reach the table was the Perthshire venison, red cabbage, butternut squash and game sauce. We had enquired and told that it also came with potato, which arrived as a semi-circle of creamy tatties with a crispy exterior. Again the meat tasted top notch – they are obviously using excellent suppliers and proud of it. The dish was sweet and intense so maybe this was the reason for the small portion size. The general consensus at the table was that it was a ladies portion size and needed that wee bit extra for a man (as terribly sexist as that may sound).
Three chocolate fondants and a pear & almond tart with ice-cream were coming our way. The chat stopped on arrival and did not resume for a few minutes – the desserts got the thumbs up. The chocolate fondant was gooey (if I hear on one more cookery show how hard this is to do then I will scream at the tv) and chocolatey, exactly what I wanted and expected. It was served with an ice-cream that tasted like lemon but the pear tart was served with vanilla. we all preferred the vanilla so if I chose it again I’d ask for that.
Coffees were coming (they also got the thumbs up) but time was getting on and we had to drink them quickly to vacate the table for the time we were told. It was a busy Saturday so there was a fair wait between courses and I don’t mind this at all providing we are given the time to allow it. I did not feel that we were particularly slow at choosing or eating so I’d recommend that you check at the time of booking about their table back by procedure.
Presentation of every dish was excellent and I found it refreshing that there was not a slate or wooden board in sight.
We ended up five minutes over our time but would have stayed longer and ordered more drinks. Instead we nipped along the road to three different bars that were all stowd before jumping in a taxi to the bar at the Grand Central for a cocktail.
It was an expensive meal but the quality of the food and the cooking were of a very high standard. Mr S would not rush back because of the portion sizes and booking service but I really want to go back to see if this was an isolated experience because I see such potential. New restaurants are constantly tweaking things and I am sure that The Gannet is no different.