Month: May 2014

Cocktails & Steak At NY Grill

There’s a new American joint in town and they invited me to try it out…


Princes square hosts numerous restaurants and another one has just joined the party upstairs. What used to be a little coffee shop in between Cranachan and Zizzi was hiding a mass of space behind it. The man behind Barca & Cranachan has gone all American on us and NY American Grill is the result. The manager, Leanne, explained how much research and preparation went into each element – from the choices of cocktails to the design of the restaurant. The big pull for me is that they have a special Jospur grill that cooks food at 700 degrees to give a chargrilled flavour without making everything bone dry.

I’ve got to admit that I’m bored of seeing burgers at the minute so was glad to open the menu and find (in addition to the burger) ribs, steak, fish and chicken.

We had been invited a few days before the restaurant opened to the public so my aim was to get a proper feel of the food and surroundings. That said, we started with the NY platter for two that consisted of calamari, chicken wings, crab bites and cheese & onion bonbons. The wings were voted our favourite – flavoursome without too thick a layer of sauce. I enjoyed the crab bites and I’ll be back to order them again and the bonbons made me feel naughty, not exactly the healthiest things in the world (but oh so tasty). Calamari needed tweaked a bit for my taste in terms of cooking time and seasoning but no doubt they’ll perfect this in time.



NY Platter £12.95


I made an epic error at this point – I ordered a milkshake. I know, I know, I got too excited and ordered the most filling drink that there is before eating my main course. I hadn’t had a proper shake in so long that I had to have it. Straight away. When it arrived it was a little weak on the strawberry side but as soon as I mentioned it to a member of staff they whipped it away and had it remade for me. Having been to preview nights before I know that they have them to iron out these kinks but I was impressed by how willing they were to make things right for everyone visiting.




Then there were ribs, because what is dinner at an American joint without a rack of ribs? As we started eating they seems a little overdone but actually the ones in the middle were cooked perfectly. They are served with corn and their own refurbished coleslaw but we ordered fries because it seemed strange not to have them.



Bourbon BBQ glazed rack of ribs £14.95


We both wanted steak, there was no doubt in my mind. I’m a lucky lady to have an understanding husband that will share all of his food with me so that I can write about it. Ribeye usually has the marbling of fat we are looking for without tasting fatty so we went for the 10oz but you can also get a 14oz. This was when the Jospur grill came into fruition. It was juicy and tasty (I think they’d put some kind of pre-cooking marinade on or something) and just all round delicious. The watercress, tomato and fries were spot-on accompaniments and the pepper sauce we’d chosen was a little over peppered but surplus to requirements anyway.



10oz Ribeye £22.95


Having not finished the main there was no dessert that was going to convince me that I had to have it. On the other hand the cocktail list was calling me and would serve as a fine sweet treat. Our waiter was eager to help, asking what kind of cocktails I enjoy, and thought I might like a Liberty Rose. Think parma violets with a classy edge and some roses thrown it, mmm!



Liberty Rose £6.75


Cocktail-wise Mr S usually chooses an Old Fashioned or a Caipirinha and whisky won on this day. Instead of just being served over ice the cocktail arrived in a little jug on ice with the glass separate. Someone at the table loved this idea and has been showing people ever since.



Old Fashioned £7


There were a few things that need adjusted but on the whole we left with a really positive opinion of NY American Grill. It will be handy for post shopping food and pre anything cocktails. Next time I am feeling mischievous and ready for some American grub I’ll stop in, perhaps for the pre theatre menu.



N.B – We received our food for half price as part of a VIP night. I was under no obligation to write about the night and this post contains my honest opinions.




I Did My Race & Then I Did Hamilton’s Race

Last month after running Race For Life we drove to Hamilton Racecourse for the Ginger Grouse Festival of Food & Drink Raceday. I was knackered but excited about the foodie stalls and trying the races for the first time. To be honest, the event would never have been on my radar but the lovely people there had sent me complimentary tickets. Usual price is £18/20 for adults. James Martin from Saturday kitchen was also going to be doing cookery demos and there was a champagne masterclass.




My first impressions of Hamilton Park were positive – it was grander than I expected & in good repair. We spent the first fifteen minutes just wandering round the racing side and the stalls.




We were starving and looking forward to a foodie lunch and picking up food to make dinner. The first stall that I saw was for Inverness fudge (go sneck!), then one selling chocolate fondue but the next one was Pimp My Burger. Not exactly what I was expecting at a food festival! Luckily the next thing I spotted was a whole pig for pulled pork rolls so my spirits were lifted.




There was another burger stall from Overton Farm, another burger stall from somewhere else, Summer Harvest were there selling their rapeseed oil and there was some dark ale being sold. The rest of the stalls were pretty much bars so I had a refreshing beer.




I can’t lie – I was looking for the cheese, meat, homemade pasta, fish and lunches with a bit more imagination. We bought some rapeseed oil but that was all so we had to nip to the shops to get dinner after we left. I expected it to be like a little version of Partick Farmers market or the European market at St Enoch. If they’d had even three more good stalls I would have been happy but with the quality of food festivals in the West of Scotland now I wanted more.


As luck would have it, a James Martin demo was starting soon so it was off to the Parade Ring Marquee. He was making lamb and fried fish – both dishes looked good but you did not get to taste them. James himself came across like a really nice guy and was able to explain exactly what he was up to in detail. I found it highly amusing when he was explaining where different cuts of meat come from using an audience member bent over!




The lamb dish is something that I would make at home, I’ll be keeping an eye out in the butchers. James very kindly posed for photographs with anyone wanting one (yes, I was one of them).




Now it was racing time. A lovely man at Betfred explained how it all worked and I placed my first horse-racing bet. I was confused about the programme because it contained races that weren’t being run there – I got excited because I thought Frankie Dettori was going. I don’t really want to highlight my blondness but it might help first-timers. After choosing our horses we went right to the front ready for the race. You don’t actually see the horses start except from on the screen and I couldn’t figure out where they were. The atmosphere was lively with lots of cheering and shouting.




We never won but we were there for the food anyway. The event had also put activities on for children like a magician, putting green and bucking bronco as it was a family fun day. We don’t have children but I was tempted to go on them myself.


I’m so glad to have gone because it is always good to try new experiences but I’m just not sure it was quite for me.

London Love At Barrafina

Almost three years ago when we got married a friend of ours got us a Barrafina cookbook as a wedding present. Since we constantly discussed food together it was a highly appropriate & lovely gift. I did some online research and found that Barrafina is a top tapas restaurant in London and dreamed of going ever since. Once the London flights were booked it was top of the ‘must visit list’ and we did just that.




Barrafina is one of these ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ places – understated and off the main thoroughfare. Thank goodness for my trusty smartphone and google maps. Arriving as their lunch session was finishing we had planned to go for dinner but both being hungry we chanced our hand and were welcomed in.

Just in case you are planning to go I’ll tell you some things that I found out in my research. One is that they don’t accept bookings, two is that it is a teeny tiny place & three is that it’s likely to be packed to the rafters. I didn’t realise quite how small it was until we got there. Seating is all along the bar and there are no tables out with this. I’d guess there’s about fifteen seats in total and I’ve heard that there is a queue most days when they open for lunch and dinner. A ledge goes along the other side of the room and is used to rest drinks on whilst you are waiting for a table. It’s not the kind of place you linger in so it works & I can imagine it’s bustling and ever so Spanish at night.




There were some quick decisions made because we didn’t want to keep them back at the end of lunch (luckily another table came in after us too). We ordered bread with olive oil and then a cold meat platter, which was sliced in front of us when we ordered. Salami, chorizo, jamon Iberico… so simple yet so so good. Quality trounces fancy ever time.




So far the only disappointing thing had been that they did not have balsamic vinegar. And I had over two years of expectations so it was almost a miracle.

Ham croquetas had to be ordered because I’d never make them at home. Fiddly, fried & overindulgent should be kept for restaurants. These little orange balls were crispy and moreish with a hefty amount of bechamel. The ham was strong in flavour so cut through the rich creaminess.




We decided to forgo the octopus with capers for the special fish of the day – seabream stuffed with herbs and lemon. All I have to say about this dish is that it was marvellous. When we returned home we realised that the recipe is in our book and we have made it at home twice now.




Our last offering was a difficult decision. I narrowed the choices down to grilled quail, milk fed lamb and chorizo, potato and watercress. After choosing the former it occurred to me that we had also chosen the meat platter but I guess you can never have too much meat on your birthday. I’m confident that we would have raved about all of the above as much as we did with the chorizo.




Next time I will leave space in my belly for the pears in red wine or Santiago tart. I say next time because I don’t want to imagine never going back here. I’m in love.



Barrafina on Urbanspoon

Fire Me Up Firebird

My in-laws are pretty good at choosing restaurants in Glasgow. They always seem to find gems that I’ve maybe thought about going to but never quite got round to it. A Finnieston favourite – Firebird – is one of these places. It fits in the crossover bar/food/bistro category and recently I went for lunch. And yes, I already want to go back for dinner.


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They have a very reasonable lunch deal on where it’s £7.50 a combo. The combo options are soup & a sandwich, soup & half a pizza, sandwich & chips or half a pizza & salad. Their pizzas came recommended so I knew that was going to be my choice, and the parsnip, carrot & kale soup on the board caught my eye.
My friend was also eyeing up the soup so she went for the soup & sandwich combo.

The soup was thick and had so much flavour. Kale never seems an appetizing option by itself but mixed with the carrot and parsnip it was diluted so it worked. It had the added bonus of making me feel healthy because kale is such a superfood. I love the soup along the road at Cushion & Cake, and this soup was on par with that. That’s a big compliment.


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My half pizza that I chose to go alongside the soup was n’duja and red onion. N’duja is a spicy Calabrian spreadable sausage. I’ve only ever had it in pasta before, and although I’m a bit of a wimp with spicy dishes, I enjoy the taste. So I asked for some water and ordered it. Boy was it hot! Enjoyably spicy though and it was one of those times when I was determined to finish it because I was fond of it.


Lindsey had a sandwich to go with her soup and all four sandwich options sounded interesting, even the veggie option. She decided on the Serrano ham, manchego cheese and sliced apple filling. Those three actually paired really successfully with the soup and showed that Firebird has promise.


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On our way out I noticed that they were selling their own organic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil so I had to grab a bottle. They were selling it for £5 or £6 but it hasn’t been opened yet so I can’t comment on the flavour. Then we went for a walk in the nearby Kelvingrove Park, one of my favourite places in the city.




Next time I go to Firebird would ideally be in a group so that we could share a pasta, pizza, meat dish and small plate because the menu options have such imagination and I want to try each one. Firebird is also a relaxed place to sit with a positive vibe. The sort of place that you can comfortably catch up on a busy week together. Plan created.

Firebird on Urbanspoon

Cosmopolitan Blog Awards

I’m not going to lie- this is a shameless attempt to get you guys to vote for Girl Around Glasgow for newcomer at the Cosmo Blog Awards. There’s stiff competition but I thought I’d give it a go.

To cast your vote from a mobile device click here or from a computer click here
and when it asks which blog you want to nominate for newcomer then I’d be chuffed to bits if you wrote


Thanks for all your help (terrible begging ends!).

I Raced… For Life

You can find my pre-run background post here.

I almost wish that Race For Life (maybe £10 entry instead of sponsored, don’t worry people) was on more regularly because there is no better incentive to do some exercise. My brain goes from ‘maybe I should go out for a run’ to ‘I’m doing a 5k soon, I need to go out running today’ and I need that push, believe me. I ran the Glasgow Race For Life 5K on Sunday and finished it in 31 minutes! I’m proud of myself to finish in 31 minutes with such little training due to signing up so late.

Mr S came to support me on the day and we walked down to the race because it is not too far from our flat. He was surprisingly cheery considering it was such an early start and it was nice to have some support. I had my pink glove all ready to do my high five wave and also managed to get one of the big foam high five wave hands from the Scottish Power tent at the event.


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I was worried when I woke up because the weather was rubbish but the rain stayed off whilst we ran and the ground was not slippy. Grant Thomson from Clyde 1 was there to rouse the runners and then singer Alexandra Burke came out to cheer everyone on and start a high 5 wave for her social media to raise awareness.


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After this I went straight to the start line. This is my 4th year of doing the race and I’ve learnt that runners should always be at the front. Otherwise you spend the first ten minutes weaving through joggers and walkers. There was a few dogs this year running alongside owners and I almost tripped over one at one point! So my advice to anyone doing it next year would be to stand where is appropriate to your racing intentions.


Even although I raced by myself this year I still enjoyed the pre-race chat. I heard an inspirational story from a woman who survived cancer, took part in multiple mexican waves and did a little warm-up. It really is a great event to be a part of with such an uplifting atmosphere.


There was a Scottish band in front of the runners that played us to our start point and then we were off. I ran and I ran then needed a little walk to recover. At the beginning of the race I was disappointed with myself for needing to take a break so early in but then a big group of runners went past cheering and shouting to other runners and I just went for it. My phone was with Mr A and I had not taken a watch so I didn’t have a clue how long I had been running for. It felt like an hour and so many runners had passed me that I was thinking about 50 minutes. Once I reached the home straight and saw the clock saying 31 I was overjoyed and determined to finish before it reached 32.


Approaching the finish line

Approaching the finish line


Collecting my medal is my favourite part of the race and they also gave out bottles of Aqua Pura water and chocolate Brioche Pasquiers at the end. Popping back to the Scottish Power marquee to get a race day high 5 photo, I spotted Alexandra Burke and managed to get a photo with her. I assume that she’s running the London one because she never ran this one, thus why I look red faced and make-up free and she doesn’t.


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I’d like to thank Scottish Power for inviting me to the race and donating £250 to my Just Giving sponsor page. The High 5 Wave raised a whopping £30,000 donation from Scottish Power. My personal Just giving page has raised £410 so far plus gift aid. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and the 14 thousand other runners at the Glasgow event.


Scottish Power is the official energy sponsor of Race For Life & want to raise £5 million in the next three years with Cancer Research.


You can still sponsor me by texting QJKF98 £5 (or whatever amount you want to sponsor) to 70070 or by visiting my Race For Life page until the 22nd of May.



London – A Food Lovers Paradise

I was determined to see the last days of my 20’s out in style so where better to do it than London. We decided to go down the foodie route with a bit of sightseeing on the way.

We flew with British Airways because they had a deal on flights. They let you take a handbag plus hand luggage for free so it meant I could fit everything into my little case. I was relaxed as soon as we got on the plane & were offered a complimentary drink…London Baby!

The first two nights were spent staying with friends in Wandsworth, where we had Sunday lunch at the Michelin starred Chez Bruce (read about that here).

On the Monday we arrived at our hotel in Holborn for a three night stay. I chose The Morton Hotel due to the location and because it was relatively small.




The rooms also looked lovely and were fairly recently decorated because it only opened last year. We were not disappointed. Our room was gorgeous (loved the cushions) and the bed was really comfortable.




We didn’t have much of a view because we were at the back of the hotel but I’d rather that than any street noise we would have got at the front. It was a powerful shower and I enjoyed using my bathrobe that they’d supplied to keep warm whilst getting ready in the morning. It was in walking distance of most places we wanted to go and right next to a tube station for anywhere further afield.

We spent much of the first day wandering around Covent Garden, the fancy shopping bit & Soho before a late lunch at Barrafina. This dinky Spanish restaurant is too fantastic to not get a post on it’s own so you’ll find that here.




On my birthday I wanted to do some touristy things so we walked around, taking in sights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace & Westminster Abbey. Then we got the tube to Notting Hill & caught the end of Portobello Market.


At night we met friends in Soho & had dinner at Burger & Lobster. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Burger & Lobster is a restaurant that sells only those two things. You can choose from half a lobster, a lobster roll or a burger with chips and salad for £20. In addition to this, they have a board with weights and prices of bigger lobsters that you can share. Since it was my birthday we went all out and bought a big lobster between four of us. It cost almost £10 a head more but there was much more meat.


6 pound 12 ounces lobster

6 pound 12 ounces lobster


As you can see it was a big ol’ lobster so it took us a while to get through. Thankfully they had a refreshing cocktail – ‘winter in the city’ to wash it down with.


The London Eye was the morning plan so we were up and out early-ish. Luckily the weather was favourable and, being midweek, we hardly had to queue. I’d say this is a must for visiting London and make sure you buy a 360° guide to you know what you are looking at.




Back to Fitzrovia for lunch at Bubbledogs, the hotdog and champagne place that kept springing onto my radar. Glasses of champagne start at £6, they all come from small champagne houses and we needed to get the full experience so we couldn’t not. Between the three of us we ordered three hotdogs (the breakie, a mac daddy and a date dog), two tots and one sweet potato fries. If you are going there my top tip would be that you don’t need a side each. We never finished the three but the tots were the favourite from the sides. All of the dogs received positive feedback and were perfect to sort our the hangovers, along with the bubbles for hair of the dog. The hotdogs cost between £6 and £8 so a very affordable meal in that area. The concept is different and they pulled it off.




After much exploring of the city on foot that afternoon, we went back to the hotel for a quick change before being taken to The Shard. Having a London local with us meant that we had insider information that we could have a drink at the bar on the 33rd floor without paying the hefty entry fee. A view over the city at night is something special and the cocktails were delicious.


View from Hutong Bar at The Shard

View from Hutong Bar at The Shard


We ended the night at Pizarro, owned by Josẽ Pizarro who is a renouned chef that you may have seen on Saturday Kitchen. We had the most extraordinary pork presa – I’ve never had this before but it is like a pink fillet steak but with a flavourful pork taste like one that you’d get from Iberico. It was cooked so simply and served with meat juices & it could not have been beaten for our last London dinner.




Checking out the next morning we had glum faces as we did not want the trip to end (although I’m sure my bank did). Our final treat before flying back was lunch on Bermondsey Street at Casse-Croûte. This street is a foodie paradise and also hosts Pizarro, Jose and Zucca among others. You can read about our lunch here.


Our London trip could not have gone better and I’d recommend all of the places we visited. I used several London blogs to help me choose where to go and they never let me down. I left feeling younger than my 30 years!

I’m In A Book, Mum!

This week saw the launch of a new Cookery book called The Foodies Guide To Glasgow & The West. The book is the result of heaps of hard work by Fraser Wilson, a fellow blogger, putting the whole thing together. It is a collection of recipes submitted by Glasgow’s restaurateurs, chefs and bloggers.


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Recipes from some of my personal favourite, and Glasgow’s top, restaurants are included. Places like Guys, The Gannet, Rogano & La Parmigiana make the Glasgow culinary scene what it is & now I can take a hint of it to my kitchen.


Le Chardon D'or

Le Chardon D’or


Fraser has also added reviews throughout the book and there are pages focusing on how to get the best out of your local produce, such as the Butchershop’s steak guide. For the real foodies among us, some of Glasgow’s chefs leave a foreword on their recipe page.


The Gannet's Peter McKenna & Ivan Stein

The Gannet’s Peter McKenna & Ivan Stein


And of course there’s a blogger section that features my pork recipe that Mr S & I love so much. Pork is massively underrated & marred by ‘porky’ tasting supermarket meat from the 80’s. Now you can get some fantastic tasting meat – give pork a second chance!


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For each copy of the book sold a 50p donation goes to Mary’s Meals, a charity that sets up school feeding projects for those who can’t afford to feed themselves. The charity helps children in poverty all around the world get an education – something badly needed for the 57 million children around the world not in school.


The book is priced at £9 and can be bought from Amazon (here) and will soon be available from other local retailers.

Roaming To Stravaigin

The first time I went to Stravaigin in Gibson Street was almost 7 years ago. I was there with Mr S and his family to celebrate his graduation & I remember thinking the menu was so adventurous. I had monkfish with risotto – I can barely remember things from last month but my brain carved out space for remembering that risotto. Recently we were in the West End and decided to pop in for dinner.




Stravaigin is an old Scottish word that means to roam or wander so it seems appropriate for the food that is inspired by different places around the world. They have traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, neeps & tatties and then they have things from further afield like nasi goreng and frittata.

We had not booked and, as it was a Friday night, it was heaving. We were told it would be about half an hour for a table – the perfect amount of time to enjoy one of their French Martini’s at the bar. Stravaigin is split into three areas. There is the more formal restaurant downstairs, the relaxed upstairs restaurant and the bar. I’ve heard that some of it is also dog friendly for those not wanting to leave the pooch at home.


I love the lights in the bar

I love the lights in the bar


We were sat on the mezzanine level in the relaxed upstairs part. This part of the place is very bistro-esque with a relaxed atmosphere and smallish, close knit tables. There were rumbling bellies so we ordered some bread and steamed west coast mussels, sweet chilli & coriander. We were glad we ordered the bread because the tasty mussel juices were begging to be mopped up.


Mussels £6.45, bread £1.95

Mussels £6.45, bread £1.95


Only then did we decide on our main feasts. Mr S opted for the seared featherblade and I was excited by the venison special. There seems to be a fashion for using tastier, non-traditional cuts of beef at the moment and Mr S almost always chooses this option. I’ve seen skirt steak and flank steak and I’ve heard of featherblade but this was my first time tasting it. These meats are always served red/pink because they go tough if they are cooked any longer. Mr S really enjoyed it & was also raving about the chunky chips and flatcap mushrooms that accompanied it. Good portion size too. After ordering dishes like this three times now it was rated as second best out of the three. He didn’t like the chimichurri sauce that accompanied it and I’d be inclined to agree. I don’t want an oily sauce to accompany steak and I’ve never been converted to chimichurri. For bread maybe but not steak. When it arrived we tasted the chimichurri then asked our waitress for some whisky sauce instead. Within five minutes we were back on track with a ‘want to lick the dish’ whisky sauce.






My venison haunch was served with carrot purée, rosemary sautéed baby potatoes and jerusalem artichokes and a neep relish. The dish looked good and I like a vegetable crisp on top of a dish for bite. All of the elements of the dish complemented each other well so credit to the chef who designed the dish. The venison haunch was tasty, if slightly more cooked than I would have liked (but I understand that everyone likes venison cooked to varying levels). My only real niggle was that there was a smattering of gravy/jus around the plate but nowhere near enough. The bites I took that had some were greatly improved by those that did not. I shared the whisky sauce (that actually went with the flavourings) but if that had not have been on the table I would not have enjoyed the dish as much.






To end the meal we shared some homemade churned mint chocolate ice-cream with an Anzac cookie. The ice-cream had an amazing flavour and obviously used quality ingredients. I wouldn’t usually have chosen mint chocolate but it was the ice-cream of the day so thought we’d order it & it was a good move. It was quite difficult to eat melting ice-cream on a slightly warm plate instead of a bowl but it just made us eat quicker! We’ll know to ask for a bowl next time.






On another note, I want to mention that they do wine flights for you to enjoy with your meal because I love this idea. I am a slow drinker so a few smaller measures means I can try more.

We had a terrific impromptu meal at Stravaigin and I look forward to roaming back sometime soon.