Month: July 2014

Eat Cafe

The Pollockshaws Road & Kilmarnock Road area is full of cafés & restaurants that are intriguing & that I want to go to. A few months ago I visited Eat Cafe in Shawlands for the first time – we wanted somewhere nearby that can accommodate a pram and sells delicious food. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the food because it looks like a nondescript cafe from the outside & the name is rather uninspiring. I realised once inside that they have a ‘proper food in relaxed surroundings’ ethos – if only more cafes upped their food game like this. So this time I was back for a second visit to see if it was a one trick pony.

It was a birthday celebration so we started with Sauvignon Blanc – delicious and reasonable at £14.95 a bottle.

I was set on having risotto with smoked haddock, leek and a poached egg from the off (£8.50/£12.50). They also give you the option of having black pudding, which I did. I was very pleased with my pick – rich risotto loaded with smoked haddock surrounded by sweet leeks. The egg was runny and the black pudding should definitely be added if you are at all carnivorous.

 

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The cajun chicken burger (£10.95) next to me looked like a well executed dish and the silence told me that it was. I avoid chicken burgers because they are usually dry but as she cut into this there was juice coming out. Not being a slaw fan she offered it to me and I wolfed it down.

 

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Another burger was put down opposite me for the birthday girl but this time a steak burger (£11.95). This burger was the reason that we were in Eat Cafe for lunch so I think that says everything! The fries were skinny ones that were well seasoned.

 

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We were having birthday desserts, of course we were. The caramel shortcake was balanced with the three elements and heated so it was gooey.

 

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A bakewell slice was served with creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness.

 

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Mrs H had a little tart with ice-cream, if I remember correctly it was citrus. I remember it was custardy so possibly a portugese tart but whatever it was she ate it all.

 

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I don’t think that I’m lying when I say that I had the best dessert. It was a gooey, warm chocolate brownie with toffee ice-cream and my own mini jug of hot toffee sauce. Oh yes. One of those dishes that you make strange noises when you have your first couple of mouthfuls.

 

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Eat Cafe is a marvellous example of Glasgow’s cafe culture. Perfect for a south-side lunch or casual bite to eat.

 

 

 

 
Eat Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Cubatas – Brave Glasgow Tapas

Glasgow is awash with new places to eat and drink. I’m sure that I am not the only one that feels torn between being faithful to the old favourites and the buzz of something new. Trying to balance it is tricky so only the best will survive. It’s almost like restaurants are auditioning for the city in those first few months. I feel for new passionate restaurateurs that are trying to turn their dream into a stable day to day living. It’s brave. So to applaud the bravery I have to try every new place (I can’t be unfair now). I first heard about Cubatas through Yelp and other bloggers and it was all compliments so more than enough to convince me.

Cubatas tapas bar & restaurant is in Elderslie Street in the old Ashoka curry karaoke building, that is in the Finnieston/Charing Cross area of Glasgow. Argyle Street now has so many great restaurants, cafes and bars that it is starting to spill over into side streets like Elderslie Street. It also came with the bonus that we could park right outside.

Tapas always appeals to me because I always want to taste a bit of everything so the menu was always going to work in my mind. Cubatas did throw some non-Spanish curveballs in there like nachos, chicken curry, beer chicken and chilli con carne – I’m reserving judgement on them until I try them but another blogger did recommend the beer chicken.

When choosing our dishes we weren’t sure how many to pick because some of them are much cheaper than what you’d expect. For instance – their chicken skewers are priced at £3.50 when most place would charge £5-6. This is reflected in portion size in most of them and allows you to try one or two more.

We ordered pan de ajo (garlic bread) and olives to stop my tummy rumbling enough to make some food decisions. The size of the olive portion was far larger than we’d expected for £1.50 but we were not complaining. The garlic bread wasn’t too pungent and definitely home-made. Their draft beer is Kozel, a Czech lager that I’d never heard of but that was well suited to a mix of dishes.

Tortilla Espanola is usually what I use to suss out what I think of a tapas restaurant. Cubatas version looked small because it was cut up but I think if it had arrived whole I would not have noticed. This is clearly a well practiced dish with its well-seasoned, flavoursome characteristics. It is the best version that I’ve come across in Glasgow.

For indulgence we ordered bacon wraps with chicken and melting cheese. These were also served on cocktail sticks like a pincho is. Again, the flavour scale was impressive and we were impressed.

The menu has a whole rice section and, instead of the usual paella, we tried the spicy Mexican rice with onions and peppers. In retrospect I wish that we’d had paella because I think it suits a tapas meal better. The rice was pleasant but I wasn’t convinced that it held its own against the other dishes and I would have enjoyed it better with some jerk chicken or something similar.

The last dish to complete our first set was torpedos de chorizo – chorizo wrapped in pastry and oven baked. Quality chorizo warm from the oven with the slight crunch of pastry. This is such a simple idea and we thought they were great.

Tuna salad was next and we both felt it lacked a zingy dressing. I noticed that they have updated their menu recently so they might have changed this already.

Just to really make sure that we got our carb intake we had gone for patatas al graten. This translated into potato gratin and it is a dish that I choose often as its too indulgent for me to justify making at home. It arrived on the table and we were confused because it was not a gratin – it looked like potato skins. We gingerly tried it and it was really very tasty. Like the ingredients of a gratin had been shook up, modernised and put into some potato skins. A certain success but the menu could do with a description change.

A short gap and desserts were calling us. We ordered crema catalana and a mixed ice-cream. I’ll get the negative out of the way first – we felt that the vanilla ice-cream let the pack down. It was not as smooth and rich as the other flavours. On the other hand, the chocolate and strawberry ice-creams were a delight and I would happily order them again.

The crema catalana was the real star here. It was superior to most with notes of citrus and a delectable creaminess.

After that first visit I wanted to take my husband in to experience it too. We shared a cheese and meat platter (ridiculously good value for money), patatas bravas, pork skewers, mixed greens, calamari, gambas pil pil and mushrooms with black pudding. The only one that we weren’t bowled over by was the greens. The rest were delicious and proved to me that my first visit was not good by chance. We had planned to have a pint in the beer garden that the manager was building when I had visited the first time but it was bucketing down. If the sun stays out then we might get to do it soon.

Cubatas has some purse friendly lunch and pre-theatre menus that will entice me to return. It is a casual place and the staff made us feel very welcome. I was watching how the serving staff were interacting with other customers & they were always smiling. It looks like a good place to work and they seemed proud of it.

Glasgow is fierce in more ways than one. We protect what we like and don’t accept any rubbish. The eating out scene is multicultural and varied with Spanish food joining the pack. Personally I love tapas for an informal meal so I can graze on a piece of one food then nibble on another. Tapas may not be in fashion right now but it’ll never go far away in my thoughts. It’s a yes from me.

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I was invited to Cubatas for a complimentary meal. We paid for the second meal after enjoying the first. All of my opinions are honest as usual.

Cubatas Tapas Bar and restaurant on Urbanspoon

Beefing It Up At The Butchershop

I always like when a second visit to a restaurant is even better than the first. It shows me that the first success was not just a fluke and that the place should have longevity. We visited The Butchershop Bar & Grill on Sauchiehall Street last year for lunch and have been meaning to return ever since. There are just too many good places in Glasgow so it has taken us a while to get back there. Two months ago we decided a wee date night was in order so we booked in for an early dinner. I’m a bit behind so it has taken me this long to finish writing about it.

 

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Their pre theatre menu offers two courses for £13.95 (£3 supplement for steak) or three for £17.95. The starter choices were soup, salmon gravlax, meatballs, chicken liver parfait or a beet & blue cheese salad. I didn’t feel in the mood for any of them so I saved myself for my main course but Mr S chose the soup de jour. It was tomato soup and came with bread & rock salt butter.

 

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Enough about the starter, Butchershop is all about the steak. The first time we visited we both had burgers so we were looking forward to trying out their speciality. As well as steak, the pre theatre mains included chicken breast, sea bream, beef burger or leek cannelloni. Unsurprisingly we both had steak – 250g Scottish 28 day aged rump steak to be exact.

 

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First of all we were impressed by the shape of the steak. Might sound strange, but as most steaks come in a thin square or rectangle they can dry out. Not this one. Both were cooked perfectly to our specifications and were juicy inside. The menu stated that it comes with garlic butter or peppercorn sauce but I asked if I could swap this for bearnaise. I barely used any of it because the rump had so much natural flavour that it was surplus to requirement. The Sicilian Statua Negroamaro red wine was a great match for the steak. The fries were nice but in retrospect I should have asked for a side to up my veggie intake.

 

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Mr S spotted sticky toffee pudding for dessert and I settled upon the creme brulee. Both were solid dessert efforts and rounded off the meal nicely.

 

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It was certainly the best rump steak that I’ve had in a long time and the service was efficient & friendly. They run a ‘burger vs steak frites tuesday’ promotion where you get two steaks or burgers and a bottle of wine for £30. Sounds like excellent value to me and a good excuse for a tuesday feast.

 

 

La Boca – Pretending We’re In Spain

La Boca literally means ‘the mouth’ in Spanish – a strange name for a restaurant I first thought until I came round to the blatant simplicity of it. Feed me, feed me now.

Having heard of this new place online, I convinced Mr S that this was what we needed to do on our day off. Arriving in between lunch and dinner meant that it was fairly quiet but that’s how I prefer it. Draught Estrella was ordered and we began trying to eliminate items from the menu to narrow down our choice. Our waiter had the rubbish job of telling us that their bread delivery had not arrived yet. A new restaurant has such hiccups and it really is not their fault but with so many places selling bread nearby I couldn’t help but think a quick shopping trip could have remedied it. I like to use bread to mop up sauces in the little dishes so I was pretty gutted. If I hadn’t heard such good things I probably would have suggested drinking up and coming back another day but I’m glad now that I didn’t.

 

Instead we stuffed our ‘boca’s’ with queso & jamon (platter £10). The queso in question was sliced manchego and the jamon was of my preferred iberico variety. No cooking required, just quality ingredients, but such a pleasing dish. The iberico had the richness that only iberico jamon has – this is perhaps my most favourite meat ever.

The rest of the dishes came in dribs and drabs as it would in Spain. We ordered sangria and enjoyed the experience. Gambas pil pil (£4.50) had big, juicy prawns and packed a punch – I even enjoyed it without bread. We dunked our fries (£2.50) in and wondered why we had never done this before.

Bread appeared soon after with our brocheta – a skewer of chicken, pepper and onion from the grill (£6.00). A good marinade and barbeque like flavour lifted this simple combination. The roasted salted tomato on the side was very much to my liking and I hope they keep it up with little jazzed up accompaniments.

The star of the show was the secreto iberico (£6.00). We had never tried this before but we had something that sounded similar in Pizarro in London so it immediately piqued interest. When our waiter finished his description with a wide eyed ‘you have to try it’ we knew that he was right. In fact, the meat comes from in between the shoulder blade and the loin of an Iberico pig. It looks like a piece of thin pork, has the texture of really good quality pork with a cooked taste of iberico jamon. It is special indeed and La Boca have excelled themselves by putting this on the menu.

 

The desserts change regularly and the waiter described them for us. One sounded like crema catalana but with biscuit on top instead of burnt sugar so we chose this. When it arrived it was indeed like a rich tea on top with cinnamon but it complemented the crema. Unfortunately the crema was not at all set so after a few spoons we were not enjoying it so much. The owner came over to our table and asked about it before seeing how runny it was and apologised before removing it from the bill. He was so passionate about everything being authentic (he used to live in Spain) and this really impressed us.

 

La Boca could be described as typically Spanish, informal and fun. It is the sort of place that we will take friends to for a catch-up with lots of laughs. Now just to check that they sell port to round off the night…

 

Competition Time: Win Tickets For Edinburgh foodie Festival!

As I mentioned in my blog’s first birthday post, Girl Around Glasgow is running its first competition!

Foodies Festival is back in Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on Friday the 8th, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of August. It is the biggest celebration of food and drink in the UK and I can’t wait to go as one of their official bloggers (and write about it afterwards). Inverleith Park is half an hour walk from Waverley station or a short taxi journey if it rains.

 

I won’t be taking part in the chilli eating contest but I will check out the (mild section of the) chilli food market and you’ll find me boogie-ing it on down at the vintage tea tent dances. Then I definitely won’t miss the real ale & cider farm. The feasting tent and BBQ area will be where I spend most of my time, no surprise there. Finally, street food avenue with its foods from around the world sounds fantastic.

 

Running for its eighth year, chefs will include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, Café St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey. Catch them all at the chefs theatre cooking up their favourite dishes.

 

Courtesy of those generous Foodie Festival folk, I am giving away 5 pairs of day tickets. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is follow this blog by e-mail. You can do this at the right hand side of this page near the top. On a mobile device just scroll down the page and under categories it says ‘follow blog by e-mail’ and fill your e-mail in. Once you have done this, head over to your email inbox where there should be an email from WordPress waiting for you. Click on it to confirm you want blog emails. If you already follow my blog by e-mail then like this post on wordpress or comment on it to be in with a chance of winning.

 

I will announce the winner on Tuesday the 16th of July. Good luck!

If you don’t win then Foodies Festival are giving all of my readers 2 for 1 tickets if you quote FOODIES241 when you book.
I can’t wait to hear what you thought & tweet me (@girlaroundglasg) with any photos.

Guest Post: West End Festival Fun

I was in Corfu (BBQ’ing a baby pig no less) on the West End Festival Parade Day. As it is such a great event, and a huge part of Glasgow’s summer calendar, I did not want to miss out so I asked Nicola & Lindsay from Cakehounds to cover it for me. This is what they thought of this years event…

 

Glasgow’s West End Festival kicked off our unofficial start of summer with the its 19th annual Parade Day on Sunday 8th of June. Hoping for sunshine but preparing for all seasons, we packed our sunglasses and cagoules and headed off to join the fun.

We’ve been to the parade before, but this was our first in our new-found blogger capacity, so we were keen to explore and see as much of the action as we could – plus it gave us an excuse to try more of the food and drinks that were on offer. Thankfully we escaped the one huge downpour while we were en route, and the rest of the day was sunshine-filled, perfectly matching the atmosphere in the West End. Byres Road was buzzing, and filled with families, dogs, children and performers, and it seemed like the whole city had turned out to witness the parade.

After a quick drink in the Ubiquitous Chip, we made our way round Ashton Lane and up Byres Road, taking in the performers, musicians and street stalls that covered the roads. The smell of street food from the local cafes and restaurants was mouth-watering, and we knew we were going to have a tough decision later when it came to where to eat. We stopped to enjoy the table tennis at Hillhead Book Club and treated ourselves to a glass of bubbly from Booly Mardy’s pop up bar before finding a spot on Byres Road to watch the parade.

The 500-strong parade kicked off at 3pm, and it was a riot of colour and noise – we could barely take photos fast enough! Based on the theme of Identity this year, the community groups and organisations involved were dressed in everything from bellydancer costumes to rollerskates. Some of our highlights included Sambayabamba, the Glasgow Steampunk Society, cabaret dancers, aliens, giant Irn Bru cans and an amazing Chinese Dragon. The energy was fantastic and we were only sorry when it was over and continued on down Byres Road, followed by a huge crowd of spectators eager to join in.

We took the opportunity for some well-earned sustenance, and after a careful scout out of the surrounding food stalls, we decided upon Smoak in Ashton Lane. We both opted for the 12hr smoked pulled pork in a brioche bun with slaw, onion and gherkins. At £5, it was worth every single bite – we were glad we passed by the burger vans and waited for this! After that it was off to Butterfly and Pig West to end our day with a couple of cocktails – all that parade action was thirsty work, after all…

 

You can see Nicola & Lindsay’s tales on Cakehounds here. Recent posts include a visit to Three Sisters Bake (I really want to go), a Glasgow cocktail tour and a recipe for strawberry daiquiri cupcakes.

 

 

Girl Around Glasgow is 1!

I have been writing Girl Around Glasgow for a whole year now so I thought that the best way to celebrate was to look back at my favourite places in our ever changing city so that if you just started reading you don’t have to trawl through a years worth of my ramblings.

A year ago when I started I wrote about my favourites at the time in Laura’s Glasgow restaurant favourites July 2013 and below is a little summary of my current recommended places.

Before that, I just wanted to thank everyone for reading, commenting, following and supporting my writings so far. I enjoy it immensely and love getting feedback so let me know if there’s anywhere you think I should visit or you’d like to see on here.

In the next week or so I will be running a competition to celebrate a year running and you could win tickets to this years Edinburgh Foodies Festival in August at Inverleith Park so keep an eye out because it is set to be a cracking weekend.

 

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My Favourites At The Moment

Tapas/Spanish: Malaga Tapas – traditional place in a strange location with fantastic menu choices

Fish: The Fish People Cafe – tiny, with a small but perfectly formed menu. Picpoul recommended.

Greek: Yiamas – simple taverna style with proper Greek pitta.

Italian: La Lanterna – I have so much love for La Lanterna. Have the homemade ravioli.

American/Burgers: Bread Meats Bread – In my opinion the best burger in Glasgow

Scottish: Cail Bruich – Will someone just give them a Michelin star already?!

              Number 16 – Just the right side of inventive.

Italian Deli/Restaurant: Celinos – Dennistouns finest

Places I’ve only visited once but really enjoyed (reviews not yet written): Ox & Finch, Drygate (eaten once but it is pretty much my local now), Cubatas tapas and Eat Cafe.

 

What has been your favourite meal out in Glasgow during the last year and why?