Author: Laura Simpson

I am a 30 year old Glasgow girl who grew up in Inverness. Having just moved back to the Highlands, you'll find me at Highland Foodie checking out places up there. I got married in 2011 and my specialist subjects are all things Glasgow, wedding, beauty, cooking and eating out. They say write about what you love so I mainly write about food!

Spanish Style Catch Ups At La Boca

There were going to be 9 of us and a pram. Oh yes. Not the sort of table that restaurants want (trust me, I know!) but La Boca welcomed us with open arms. I didn’t even have to promise that we’d behave, tell them that all nine of us have worked or work in restaurants, plead our case. 

You see, we were having a big catch up with our Glasgow nearest and dearest, and we wanted somewhere central, informal and that we were familiar with. I’ve written about La Boca before (here) as Mr S and I went on a few date nights there. Tipsy lunches with sangria and tapas then walking home in the sun, they were good days. 


Pimientos de Padron

It was the first time that most of them had met baby L so we didn’t order for a while since she was being passed around. Luckily the staff were patient with us and sorted us out with vino and juice in the meantime. We all ordered from the pre-theatre menu that is competitively priced at £10.95 for three tapas. It has a varied selection of meat, fish and veggie dishes and we all easily found things that we wanted to eat. 

Pimientos del Piquillo

Boquerones and bread arrived quickly to nibble on before the rest came out in dribs and drabs. The friendly staff made sure that we had everything needed throughout. 

Boquerones

 

Chorizo al Vino

All of the dishes seemed to go down well, notably the padron peppers and chipirones. I’m a massive tapas fan and La Boca delivers for me on this – lots of tasty little hits of Spain. 

 

Croquetas Caseras

Morcilla


Chipirones

The restaurant has a lively atmosphere that I love. It isn’t all about the food for me, it’s about the whole experience and I felt that they delivered. 

Patatas Bravas

As well as ordering from the pre-theatre menu we ordered a Secreto Iberico tapa from the main menu. It is a large tapa and you could easily have just that and some bread and olives and lunch would be dandy. We have it every time we go to La Boca and this won’t be changing. The description labels it as ‘secret cut of pork from Spain’s famous black pig, outstanding flavour’. They aren’t lying- the taste is truly fantastic. It is a savoury meaty and salty taste that rivals a good steak. 

 

Secreto Iberico (£7.50)


As far as I could see, they don’t have a baby changing unit. I managed at the time on the toilet floor with the changing bag mat but now my little L rolls about I don’t think I’d want to. Hopefully they’ll get one soon or signage if they have it. 

There’s no doubt about the fact that we’ll be returning to La Boca but since we are not as local as we once were I need Glasgow folk to keep it open for me in the meantime. Phone a friend and arrange a catch up, it’s a good place for it. 

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Carnivore Club Champions Scottish Charcuterie 


If you’ve been reading for a while then you’ll know that I love meat, I love local and I love trying new things. So when I was emailed by a company that send you boxes of Artisan British charcuterie it immediately piqued my interest. Each month uses a different charcuterie company and this months box contained meat from a Highland business called Great Glen Charcuterie. 



Great Glen Charcuterie are based in Roybridge, which is down Spean Bridge/ Fortwilliam way. I’d heard of them and been wanting to try their meat so this was a great taster box. They specialise in charcuterie using wild Scottish venison that they make by hand and air dry. 


The Carnivore Club is essentially an online company that send you meat. They use different British charcuterie companies every month so that you can try meat from smaller companies that you might not have heard of. Good for small businesses to get the word out. You can order a box as a one-off for a gift or start a monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly subscription. 
Perfect timing as it’s much easier for us to have a nice dinner in than out right now with a little baby. 

It arrived by courier and the meat was encased in a sturdy gift box. Inside there was a leaflet with information about the box and serving suggestions and five different products to try: two salamis, two chorizos and a venison bresaola. The aforementioned were venison pork salami, green peppercorn salami, chili venison chorizo & venison and pork chorizo. 

The first meat that we tried was the pork & venison chorizo. We used it in place of bacon on treat night in a creamy seafood pasta… delicious! We then used the venison and pork chorizo in place of our regular chorizo in our affectionately named ‘sexy pasta’ that uses roasted Mediterranean veg and herbs. Again, it was lovely. We liked both of the products and the only thing we found was that the chorizos weren’t as oily or paprika-y as normal chorizo so adjust recipes accordingly. 

The salamis are rich and tasty, a fantastic addition to an antipasti board alongside cheese, olives and proscuitto. 
The bresaola is being kept until date night because it is the one we are looking forward to the most. I’ll be doing it the traditional way with rocket and shaved Parmesan on top of the slices then drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it. 

I thought that the box was good value. It’s £29 if you subscribe and £32 for a one-off and if my maths were right the box had £27.41 worth of products (not to mention the nice gift box) plus Great Glen charge £4.95 delivery so you’re making a saving. Since getting the box I’ve spotted Great Glen charcuterie at The Storehouse & Corner on the Square and they are (obviously) a little more expensive than buying direct so The Carnivore Club are competitive price wise. 

To get it every month you’d have to be a true carnivore, I would say that I am more on the bi-monthly part of the scale. The boxes are compiled using British companies & I hope to see and try more Scottish charcuterie in the future as I like to support local. 
We have friends scattered all over the UK and I’m constantly wracking my brain over what to buy them as gifts that are easy to send but still special so this will really help me out. It’s also a nice idea for new parents who might not go out for a while so that they can treat themselves at home.
I can be somewhat sceptical about these subscription services that send you things because I don’t always feel that they are good value for money but I can honestly say that the box I was sent by the Carnivore Club felt like it was. I’ve seen photos online of another box and it also looked like you got your money’s worth. A nice way to spend some disposable income on or to gift someone. Just not to a vegetarian! 

 

N.B The Carnivore Club kindly sent me a box to try. There was no pressure to be nice about it so I just gave my honest opinion. Im very selective about what I write about so research anyone who contacts me first. I’m actually about to order another box! 
This content has also been posted on my sister blog Highland Foodie 

Glasgow is Italys Paesano  

  
Everyone has an opinion about pizza. Whether you are a self proclaimed ‘foodie’ that goes to the award winning restaurants, the one who has visited Italy, the student who eats them all the time or Joe Bloggs… you probably have an opinion on what a good pizza should be like. For me pizza was affordable as a student and I felt comfortable treating myself to dinner out at an Italian restaurant. It was a gateway into going out for dinner more, branching out and trying new foods. Topping combinations have got ever more inventive over the years too. Sometimes too crazy in my opinion – they lose sight of what the classic pizza is. 


My dad describes pizza in Italy as having big blown out doughy sides and minimal cheese and toppings. Quality not quantity. I should get to experience it myself next year but in the meantime a new kid on the block had opened in Glasgow claiming to do authentic Italian pizzas. All independent Paesano sell is pizza and a few sides – 8 pizzas to be exact. It’s now acceptable to only offer one thing – and minimal choices of – in a restaurant, on trend in fact. Some people may not like it but, if you’ve read other posts of mine, I’m an advocate of doing less things well. 
  
The restaurant inside has an industrial feel. It’s in a big building on Miller Street & the seating is wooden benches and canteen style tables. Urban chic if you will. Definitely not somewhere for you if you like a cushioned seat with a structured back. Dare I utter the words that this is a ‘young’ place. Oops, I might as well have said hipster. Please forgive my sweeping generalisation but here goes. I only mean that in the sense that most twenty year olds that I’ve encountered couldn’t care less what they sit on, how loud a place is and generally like a large social space. On the other hand, most sixty year olds that I know want comfy seating and to be able to have a conversation without having to raise their voice. I am 31 years old and I’ve started to care about it more and more! Luckily Paesano didn’t have music blaring and the seats were comfy enough to feed my bambino. 
 

White Anchovies

 
We had warmed our bellies up with some white anchovies and now it was all down to the pizza. It was lunchtime and they arrived quickly so this is the sort of place that you could come to in your lunch hour. 

At Paesano they pride themselves on proper imported Italian ingredients being cooked in a wood fired oven that comes from Naples. Initial impressions were positive – big blown out sides of fired dough with scattered toppings in the middle. They use fior di latte mozzarella (unless you upgrade to Buffalo), which I prefer to buffalo mozzarella as it has a creamier and less smoky flavour. 
  
You could tell that the toppings used were of a high quality, from the tasty cotto ham to the sweet tomato sugo. The pizzas had a delicious crispy sourdough crust that contrasted with the soft centre. 

The middle of the pizza was soft and might challenge what you are used to. On first thought the word soggy came to mind but I generally use that word negatively and this wasn’t a negative. Sure, it was the kind of pizza that is best eaten with cutlery but I think that we’ve just gotten too used to cardboard like bases on our pizza over here. I’ll be the first to admit that a pizza with a soft middle can put me off but this one was different. It was soft because the balls of fior di latte have a softer texture, because the sugo isn’t pumped with filler to make it thicker and because the toppings were chosen on flavour and not on moisture levels. 
  
The ice-cream bowls are cute and score points with me. I’m hoping they have a few short bowls for children because it’s a disaster waiting to spill in a tall dish. 

The soft ice-cream has that milky tone to it as opposed to overly creamy. Something that is important in Italian ice-cream from what I understand. Anyway, I liked it and the sauces gave it a retro feel. 
  
For fellow parentals, there is baby change and the staff were accommodating and courteous about the fact that I had a little baba in tow with pram and all that comes with it. 
We encountered waiting staff and management and found them all to be friendly and approachable. 

I’ll get my dad to visit next time he’s in Glasgow to see if they get the authentic seal of approval. He talks about real Italian pizza all the time so he’s my man in the know. 

It was a tasty pizza indeed and I enjoyed my experience. We went for lunch but it’s also the kind of informal place that’s ideal for a few friends post work to enjoy pizza and a beer. With my hearing it’d probably be too loud on a Saturday night but I’ll be back midweek with my own paesano. 

Tantrum Doughnuts Made My Day

 


I would class myself as a doughnut lover. When I was pregnant my sister, niece & I drove a five hour round trip to satisfy my pregnancy cravings of doughnuts and peri-peri chicken so I’m pretty sure that I qualify. 

Without sounding too like Nigella, there’s something about a warm filled doughnut that can’t be beaten – it’s so naughty and indulgent. 




The newest doughnut shop to hit my radar is in on of my favourite spots in the city, the hip without being polished Finnieston. So many foodie places have opened in the area in recent years that you don’t want to miss it. Tantrum Doughnuts is set a couple of minutes walk away from Kelvingrove Art Gallery where Cushion & Cake used to be. They appear to be primarily a takeaway but have some seats inside if you can’t wait until you get home to eat. Coffee, milkshakes and handmade doughnuts are the menu entirety and I was sure they’d do it well. 
Their Facebook page had been teasing me for weeks so I was determined to try them out. They make their own marshmallow for goodness sakes! 
 

some of their facebook photos that had been enticing me in

 

We were going to a friends house so we bought a selection of creme brulee, peanut butter & jelly and jam filled. In retrospect I should have bought a sneaky chocolate number for the next day. 
  

The doughnuts were divine! The creme brulee even cracked as you bit into it and the dough was light enough and tasty. 
  

I love their slightly unusual flavours and hope that they continue to rotate them to show their skills. The owners have a history cooking in top restaurants and it’s evident when you go in. Even the denim dresses worn by the staff go with the feel of the place, the attention to detail is incredible. 

Keep up the good work Tantrum, maybe one day in the future I’ll be back with more pregnancy cravings. 

Make Up The Glasgow Way

I don’t do product reviews on here very often because it is not on brief of why I started Girl Around Glasgow – to share all the little restaurants & places in the city that deserve a mention, to keep them alive. I break my rule occasionally for something really special and this is one of those times. A Glaswegian make-up artist got in touch recently as she has just launched her first make-up line. So instead of helping the local restaurants & bars, today is about supporting local brands – c’mon Glasgow! I decided that I’d try a couple of products and only write about it if they were good enough so I’ve spent the last month with Sara Hill blusher on, red lips when appropriate and testing longevity of statement eyeshadow. 

First of all, a little background would be appropriate. Her website describes

‘Make-up artist/Art Director turned Magazine Editor Sara Hill is a free thinking creative, born in Scotland. With over 17 years’ in the industry, Sara had worked internationally on many fashion & advertising campaigns. Represented by London agency S: Management. Sara has worked with Kanye West, Marina and the diamonds Rae Morris, Indiana, Melanie C, Emile Sande, Jack O’Connell, Grace Jones, Rosie Huntington-Whitley and is the editor of Hope St mag’.

It all sounds rather impressive, but doesn’t necessarily mean that she can make-up (da-dum) a good product.

First of all, I really liked the packaging. It is sleek and classy, and felt like an expensive product. This matched their target market, with their pricing ranging from £17 a lipstick, £16 an eyeshadow and £19 a blush. In terms of pricing, it is in line with brands such as Mac and Benefit so I was expecting big things.

I started with the lipstick because us Scots ladies love a good lippy. I’d been sent a vibrant orange-red called Sadie Doll so I kept its first appearance for a night out at North Hop. It’s preservative free and contains ingredients such as Shea Butter, Jojoba, avocado and vitamins A, C & E to condition and moisturise the lips. But it also claimed to be long-lasting and high impact – things I don’t generally find in a moisturising lipstick. I know that some won’t approve but I never use lip brushes, too much faff, so I applied this straight from the stick then blotted and reapplied. Wearing it to an event that I was going to be drinking at all night was really putting it to the test but it held up well. The colour was vibrant as promised and it was still on at the end of the night with a few top ups during the night to help. It was certainly an encouraging start and I was more than happy with its performance.

The colour of the lipstick was very in your face so not one that I’d choose for every day use but they do have more neutral shades, such as Carmen & I-AM. I’d love to see more neutrals in the range to increase time when I would wear the shades. Orchid’s purpley hues also look like a great party lip colour if you aren’t a red lip fan.

The second product that I have been trying is the baked mineral blush that claims to be instant radiance for your cheeks in shade Honey bell. This was my favourite product out of the three. It is neutral enough for everyday use, I like the clean packaging and it gave me a healthy glow when my skin wasn’t playing ball. I usually use Chanel blush and nothing else so it had quite a challenge but I was impressed with the results. When put to the test, it stays on even on 14 hour shifts, very impressive.

The last product that I tried was an eyeshadow in pure sable- a rich brown. I admit that this is the one that has been given the least testing because it’s quite a dark shade for my complexion and I haven’t been brave enough to wear it much. I have never found a powder eyeshadow to match up to a long shift and I especially wasn’t trying it with my body temperature higher than normal courtesy of the current hot water bottle living in my tummy. So I have worn it on non-work days instead. I prefer to use a light layer, sometimes mixed with a gold shade but next time I think I will try deep plum or French grey for all round usage.

This photo was taken after a couple of layers on the hand just to illustrate the colour with its irredescent shimmer. Gorgeous rich shade but just not for my complexion. 

The make-up that I tried was impressive – Sara’s background has served her well when making the products. I’ve also spotted glitter pots on her Twitter feed that look perfect for big festive nights out that have made it straight on my want list. 
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You can find the range at http://sarahill.com/
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Disclaimer: I was sent Sara Hill products but was upfront about my policy of honest reviewing. If I had not have liked them then I would have written as such or they would not have made it on to the blog. 

I have continued to use the products because I actually like them & will be buying more of this brand. 

  

Laboratorio Espresso- You Know, Just Off Buchanan Street

Having a name like Laboratorio Espresso makes you sound like you know what you’re doing, but it is also one of those names that doesn’t just roll off the tongue so I generally forget what they’re called. At the beginning it was ‘that coffee shop just off Buchanan Street, on West Nile Street’ and now I generally just go with ‘lab’ for a less complicated life. 

  

The fancy name goes with the suave building in which it is housed. 1 West Regent Street is a ten storey sleek black number that was built in 2013 & 2014, and right on the edge of the West Nile side is Laboratorio Espresso. The coffee house is teeny tiny with only ten seats inside but they have four tables outside to increase seating. On the pathway from the train and tube station to the commercial district, I imagine that much of their business comes from takeaway pre-work power coffees. 

This independent cafes salvaged look outside tables hint at what to expect inside- but once you get in it is better than expected. Look up high at weathered wood planks reclaimed from the Glasgow School Of Art’s restoration project and see how they soften the concrete lower level. The interior has simple touches but they are few and far between to avoid cluttering the space. The style of the wooden chairs remind me of going into primary school but there is nothing elementary about this place. 
  

They know about their coffee. From the shiny La Marzocco machine that sits on the counter to the HasBean beans that are being used, a quiet air of seriousness surrounds the coffee in here. Lab Espresso is the kind of place that I can order a flat white in the comfort that it will come how it should – creamy but strong. You’ll never have to moan about a cappuccino because it has a mere centimetre of foam and worry if the coffee will be bitter due to overzealous overgrinders that morning. 

I had a long day ahead of me so a flat white was needed to blow my socks off and a cannoli was, well, not needed. But definitely being purchased.   
  

The cakes are only small so I had two – a chocolate cannoli and a mini pistachio croissant. The croissant had enough of the sweet, nutty icing in each mouthful without losing its flaky, buttery nature. Then the cannoli…oh the cannoli with its rich chocolate centre and crunchy exterior. I want one now.
  

As you can probably tell by now, I’m pretty taken by Lab Espresso. Passion is contagious and I’ve caught their bug.

Being Bad At Five Guys

Cheating on someone is a horrible business. There’s this overwhelming guilt that keeps feelings cooped up inside- feelings of worthlessness and shame. How will I ever go back? 

Today I am forcing myself to be brave and put into words what I did. Here goes, please don’t judge. 

 I cheated on Bread Meats Bread… I cheated on local and I cheated on Glasgow as I knew it… I went to Five Guys for lunch. I’m sorry, really sorry. 

In my defence, we were going to go to Bread Meats Bread but the queue was long and we were pushed for time. Five Guys had been on my will-I-won’t-I radar for a while so we just did it. In my account of our visit I will be as objective as I can be & throw my guilt aside. 


  

We stepped in through the unfamiliar doors to a big menu on the wall and a counter to order at. There was no queue so we could order immediately after choosing. As you can see from the menu, you choose a basic burger type or hot dog then customise it. I asked for a cheeseburger with mayo, pickles, ketchup & onions. As much as I like vegetables, too much in a burger can make the whole experience fall apart. Fries – the only side they seem to do- completed my food order & I went for a refillable drink to wash it down. 
They gave us cups for the self serve so we helped ourselves. I like a cheeky cherry coke on occasion and this was one of those days. We then waited at the service area for our number to be called. It was nice to watch them making the burgers & quite atmospheric listening to the chefs shout back and forth. I guess it added to the American burger joint feel that I’d expected. 
  
There are three floors of seats and, as the ground floor was pretty full, we chose to go upstairs. This was the biggest mistake we made because it was VERY loud. I felt like I’d gone back to the school canteen. Between the noise of other diners (many under 20 years old & giddly on too much refillable coke) & the shouting from the kitchen downstairs, I developed a headache. A burger tends to be my hangover food but there’s no way I would choose somewhere so noisy the day after the night before so it gets crossed off that list. I went down to the basement to the toilet and it was somewhat quieter down there but I imagine with such a low roof it only takes a couple of tables of teenagers to turn rowdy. I’m only 31 so it makes me feel old writing about the noise but it just shows how loud it is – my mum would have walked straight back out. 
  

On to the burger and fries. The burger itself consisted of two thin patties and they were still juicy with lots of oozy cheese. The bun held together but didn’t have the sweetness that I prefer from a brioche. I still really enjoyed the burger and would give it 8/10. The fries were crispy outside and soft inside – a good effort indeed. One regular sized fries is enough for two people so don’t buy two or you’ll be left with lots or have to be rolled out of there. 

A couple more sides – maybe some onion rings for instance – would have added to the experience. 

  
I was disappointed to see that the fries are cooked in peanut oil considering how many people are allergic to nuts. There was no alternative to this on the board so I assume that there is none. They also give out free peanuts & they were placed in boxes with scoops around the place. If you’ve ever been on an aeroplane & it’s come over the tannoy that nuts are not being served due to another passenger with a serious allergy then surely you’ll see the flaw in Five Guys plan. Everyone loves a freebie and a novelty idea but when a reported 1 in every 100 people in the UK are allergic to peanuts* it seems nonsensical. 
  
So my visit really was full of peaks & troughs. The food was a high point but the noise and peanut thing was a real low point for me. It’s such a shame as the food was a solid effort. After speaking to a friend who thought the same thing maybe Five Guys need to look into creating a more comfortable atmosphere in the stark white building. 

I’ve been dithering about if I’d go back or not because of this & I guess it depends on availability of seats at the other nearby places on burger street. Maybe they have got their target market and I’m not it but students must have more money now than they used to if they’re to keep this place going. Parents might like the noise so they don’t feel self-conscious about their loud kids too. It falls more into the takeaway category for me but is a pricey takeaway at £13.25 for a cheeseburger, small fries & drink. 

*Source: http://patient.info/health/nut-allergy

Tick Tock Unlock

Last Saturday we rallied the hungover troops for a different kind of adventure. On the corner of St Vincent Street & Hope Street lies a secret door that leads to rooms of puzzles and problem solving. Our first challenge was finding the place – I’ll solve this first one for you & tell you that it’s above Martha’s. 

  

Now, all I knew about what we were doing was that it’s a group activity that can take up to 6 people per room and that we would be using teamwork to get out of the room. They start you off with a background story then you use a series of clues to find your way out of the room in an hour. 

  

Once inside, we had a ball trying to work them all out. Teamwork is key here as one person might find part of a clue whilst someone else is holding the answer to the rest of it. The game would be ideal for a team building exercise or work night out, but I’d also recommend it for hen & stag do’s. They told us that they have been popular with families travelling to Glasgow and looking for something a bit different too, just make sure the kids are old enough to understand what’s going on- I’d say nine years old plus. 

  

We escaped in 57 minutes – hooray! – but if you don’t manage it in the hour I’m told you can play on to get the rest of those niggling clues solved. Staff are watching you on a screen so can help you if needed. 

  

After getting all Sherlock Holmes, you can get dressed up with their selection of props and take some group photo momentos of the day. It is priced at £14-£16 per player, depending on how many are going into the room and takes about two hours in total. They have two gameplay rooms so if you have a bigger group then you can split into two teams and play consecutively. 
I went along with five friends and the feedback from everyone was that they loved it & want to go back to do another challenge. We thought it would be refreshing on a hen or stag to have something other than going straight to the pub to get the day started & that it would be a good ice-breaker for people that don’t know each other too well. Miss Marple watch out, because I’ll be back to Tick Tock Unlock soon! 
 

Disclaimer: we were given a complimentary game in return for a blog post but all views are honest and my own. I’ll happily pay to go back. 

Number 16 – Should Be Up Every Glasgow Street

 

Not every dinner that I write about involves masses of time taking photos and researching – life is for living after all. The night in question this time was spent in Number 16 restaurant on Byres Road, in the heart of Glasgows West End. Unbeknown to me, this meal was the last restaurant blow-out that I would have for a while involving copious amounts of vino now that I’m on a nine month plus sabbatical so I’m glad it was such an enjoyable night. 

The photos are terrible due to low lighting issues and prosecco, but they’re the only ones I have so I’m including them anyway. 
The first starter to arrive is a dish that showcases what I would describe as Number 16’s signature style – they excel at Asian cooking as much as they do Scottish & you’re always flipping a coin in there over which route to go down. It was Asian spiced beef tempura with wasabi mayonnaise, sweet chilli, coriander and pickled radish. Tempura doesn’t often look pretty but they managed it here, and kept the batter light and crisp. Scooping a bit of each element of the dish into each mouthful was important here to appreciate the sweet, spicy, acidic flavours as one & it was a fantastic dish. 

 

Tempura £7.50

 
  

Crispy ham hock terrine won as the starter of preference with two of the table choosing it. No 16 served it with vanilla & apple purée, sweet & sour raisins and piccalilli but the accompaniments sounded too sweet for me. The two of them thought it was delicious and, having tried some, I changed my mind too although I’m not one for vanilla with savoury. 

Terrine £6.50

 I’ve had soup in here before and they always pull it off so I don’t feel hard done by looking at other starters as I sometimes do in other restaurants with soup. This time it was cream of wild mushroom with tarragon and white truffle oil. Consistency and depth of flavour were exactly perfect for me and the tarragon shone through without eclipsing the mushrooms. The truffle oil added an earthy element and further emphasised the shrooms in the dish. 

Soup £4.95

 The mains were up and meat had won again with two of us picking the carnivorous menu option. The piscivores face lit up at the sight of his pan seared loin of yellowfin tuna with smoked haddock brandade, fennel & red onion salad served with warm vierge dressing. The tuna looked perfectly cooked, the smoked haddock brandade (or olive oil emulsion- we googled it) accentuated the rich fish flavour with the aniseedy salad providing some bite. The plate was clean in about five minutes so safe to say it was successful.

Tuna £17.95

I would have been happy with any of the mains on the menu that night but the braised ox cheek drew me in. It was a dish for a cold day, and that it was. The garlic & chive mash and red cabbage were both punchy in their own right, but coupled with the ox cheek and jus, it was a flavoursome mouthful. The dish was perhaps a touch too sweet by the end but there are worse things.

Ox Cheek £16.50

 
Last but not least, a risotto of butternut squash and sage was no drab veggie option. The mascarpone was rich and creamy, the pine nuts threw in some texture whilst watercress gave a peppery element to the dish. A small amount of balsamic left enough of its acidic trail to prevent the dish from being too cloying and the rice had just enough bite. This is the second time I’ve had one of their risottos and both have been mentionable. 

Risotto £13.50

 

Not being able to finish my main course, I wasn’t about to order a dessert but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t eat any. A light cheesecake provided all the ooh’s and ahh’s that a dessert is ever going to get and a delicate coconut ice-cream was far more than just that.

 
 

 

 

I would put Number 16 into the brasserie category in the sense that it is high quality food and wine in relaxed surroundings. The kind of place that you go to for a special occasion but equally as often on a week night for a pre-theatre pick me up. It has a feel good factor in the air that you can’t manufacture and the locals can’t get enough.

 

   

You can read about my first visit to this restaurant here and how it was part of our Hogmanay 2013 here

La Parmigiana 

I’ve been neglecting this blog over the last couple of months – with working more, moving house, catching up with family and getting reacquainted with Inverness, it just hasn’t been getting done. Some planned posts won’t appear but some are too special to not write about. This is one…


La Parmigiana is an Italian restaurant in Kelvinbridge, next to the Glasgow favourite Philadelphia. It’s been there for a long time and, when I lived in Kelvinbridge as a student, I used to walk past thinking ‘that place looks fancy’. It doesn’t give away much from the outside – generally a sign in a restaurant that its reputation is good enough to carry it or that the owners are using it as a front for something dodgy! Don’t worry, it’s the former in this case and La Parmigiana has a quiet air of success. Their website has photos of famous people posing with staff but once you see past that bumpf you’ll get to the real star – the food. 

The menu reads as traditional Italian – pasta starters and meaty main courses followed by creamy desserts. I already had high expectations for the food after being invited to a food & wine tasting night the previous year by a family member & long term fan of the restaurant. Each quality ingredient stood out in their uncomplicated tasters – it definitely whet my appetite. 

So here we were returning for a full dinner and I was more than ready. 

…So ready that I forgot to take a photo of the minestrone soup across the table. In fact, I think my husband had to remind me to photograph mine. A sign that he’s used to waiting to eat! 

I did try the minestrone and it was perfect. Their minestrone tasted how other places want theirs to – it was rich and tomatoey with a depth of flavour without being too filling. 

I had ordered the Tortelli d’Erbette e Ricotta al Burro e Parmigiano – don’t worry, the menu translates everything. These al dente parcels revealed rich ricotta mixed with the freshness of spinach. Once dunked in the butter and cheese, it was a delicious mouthful.

 

Mr S picked a starter from the specials – it was as if they knew he was coming because they had his favourite dish. Long pasta in a tomato sauce with prawns keeps him happy every time. And this one was raved about more than most, so much so that I couldn’t tell you if the difference was how fresh the pasta was, or if they had used the finest tomatoes or the best olive oil to set the plate off. All I know is that my husband was grinning from ear to ear. 

  


 The specials menu also decided our main courses as they had two sharing beef options. As much as I’m annoyed with myself for not remembering what cut it was it really doesn’t matter because by now I was utterly convinced that only quality was going to come out of that kitchen. It was on the bone, carved at the table and medium rare like we’d asked for it. The meat was melt in the mouth, no need for a sauce here. Heck, I could have eaten it without any carbs and veg because it was so good. I came over all carnivorous – I wanted to be in a garden chewing down with my bare hands, getting all the meat off the bone. 

  It took some recovery time but we ordered desserts eventually.  The menu states that the chocolate fondant has a wait time but it wasn’t an issue. When it arrived it was melt in the middle and rich and gooey but I think I wanted the tiramisu. Yes, you read correctly. The chocolate fondant was everything it is supposed to be but Mr S had tiramisu and it just looked better than mine. I had food envy.

This was the tiramisu that stole me away from my fondant. The creamy mascarpone level was whipped so light and the sponge held the layers well. Serving coffee gelato with it was a stroke of genius and it was a first class dessert.   

I can’t fail to mention the wine because we tried three very delicious types (there were four of us before you ask, mum). My favourite was the Emporio Nero D’avola Merlot. I’ve convinced myself that most Merlots are not for me and the only reason it was ordered was because we asked for a recommendation. What a good move that was. 

La Parmigiana is more expensive than your average Italian restaurant with our starters ranging from six to twelve pounds and main courses around the twenty pound mark. You are paying for the quality and we felt it was justified. We were served some delicious food – traditional, authentic and simple have to be used to describe it. 

I almost feel like the restaurant staff want to keep the place a secret – just a quiet whisper between friends providing its trade. It is a more formal place, and somewhere that I wouldn’t wear jeans but they still made me feel relaxed.

There is a reason that the staff knew so many of the diners the night we were in – the place was full of contented regulars. I hope that the cycle continues for years to come because Glasgow would be a sad place without La Parmigiana.