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. 

 

La Lanterna

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I have my favourite places in Glasgow. I’m fiercely loyal to one in particular – La Lanterna. So the first place we booked for our trip to Glasgow had to be there. 

La Lanterna is at the bottom of Hope Street and you can easy walk past it without looking up. It’s when you walk down those stairs that the magic happens & you’re transported to the Mediterranean. 

We booked online so got our complimentary glass of bubbly to toast being back in our favourite city. 

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We’d been saving up for the trip down so we weren’t going to pass up the langoustines to start. They come in a garlic and herb butter with all the necessary tools to break into the tasty claw meat. 

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market price (roughly £12)

Mr S chose the Rib eye steak because the meat in La Lanterna is always tasty and this was no different. Served with plenty of lovely button mushrooms but could have done with a few more chips. 

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Homemade ravioli is so hard to find in restaurants so I have it here on most visits. The braised duck and apple ravioli is sweet but the red wine & rosemary jus provides a savoury contrast. It’s just delicious! 

The ravioli portions are big so you don’t really need a starter. Just save some bread to mop the jus up. 

I’d recommend all of the ravioli and risotto in here – especially the veal ravioli & chicken risotto. 

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£13.95

For years we always had the tiramisu for dessert but now we swither between the tiramisu and cheesecake. This unbaked one is mascarpone led, rich yet light enough and dominates the plate. The strawberries and sauce add to it but by no means take over. 

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£4.95

La Lanterna is one of the things that I miss most about Glasgow. I’d love to say that we could try to recreate it up here one day but I know how much work goes into running a restaurant and I could never of even dream of reaching that level of Italian perfection. Some things are meant to be a treat and this one will always be worth the wait. 

Argento

I may not be a beauty blogger, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about all things girly. Those savvy folk from Argento jewellers sent me a Valentine’s surprise box and I definitely got all girly opening it!

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Argento’s roots go back to Belfast in 1997, when Pete Boyle decided to create a welcoming, casual jewellers. Now he tends to focus on quality fashion jewellery and is best known for taking Pandora to the UK. I used to shop at Argento in Glasgow’s West End but I have also been to the Belfast store. Inverness has a Pandora shop in the Eastgate Centre or I can buy other jewellery online – or make an excuse for a Glasgow trip!

The August Woods trio flower pendant necklace that they sent me retails for £25. A bit more bling than my usual style, I think this would be suited to wearing with a plain top or dress to show it off.

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Since I was on the website, I started browsing and found a gorgeous August Wood dress bib necklace that would look great for cocktails with the girls.

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I also like the chunky style to this ring…

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They sent me a selfie stick to celebrate that they are giving away selfie sticks on orders over £50 whilst stocks last – I’m a novice so excuse the photography.
Argento have offered to give my readers 20% off their next order* – handy if you are buying a Valentine’s gift this year. Just enter LOVE20 in the promo bit at the checkout.

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Along with my Argento goodies, I was sent some Vita Liberata self tan mousse in medium shade. It was excellent to get self tan that didn’t leave me smelling like biscuits and the mitt made it easy to apply. I found that it went on quite light in colour but you can layer it up for a darker result, although this could work out an expensive option. It is organic and definitely a luxury item with it retailing around £20 but it claims to last 2-3 weeks. I’ll update the post when I get to that stage. It would suit people with lighter skin and you don’t need to moisturise before putting it on.

Remember to enter LOVE20 at the online checkout* if you’re buying anything from Argento to get your discount.

*not valid on Pandora or Nomination

The BBC Good Food Show In Glasgow

In October we went along to The Good Food Show at the SECC to find some new loves. Camera issues delayed this post but better late than never! In 2015 it will be running from the 6th to 8th of November so ask it off work now just to be sure.

The queen of baking, Mary Berry, was there doing cooking demos so the first thing I did was stand transfixed watching her make something lovely. Paul Hollywood didn’t even get a look-in with me… There’s definitely something about Mary.

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I managed to catch blogger Emma from Food & Drink Glasgow on the interview stage before more gin samples. I felt a little bit proud to see my local, Drygate, (all the way from Dennistoun) at the show and couldn’t turn down an Outaspace Apple ale sample.

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They had some non stick pans that actually looked amazing, and if we weren’t about to just move house, we would have bought a set. My in-laws bought some at the show last year and they actually do what they say. We settled on some saucisson instead…

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The sheer volume of produce that I wanted was just too much. I can’t wait to go next year (not in the middle of a house move) and buy bags of lovely things and boozy Christmas presents.

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At the back of the theatre there was the BBC Good Food kitchen, where you could pick up freshly cooked lunch to really make a day of it.

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Mr Hollywood was signing copies of his book. There was a long queue of ladies as you can imagine.

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C’mon the Highlands!

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Venison is a lean meat that is fairly healthy – need I say any more?

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Some of the stall holders had used interesting decoration to draw people in – this veggie sausage stall was one of my favourites.

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The boss of the meat world was there with a selection of black pudding, bacon, sausages and white pudding.

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All in all, we spent the best part of a day here. You could easily go for breakfast and stay for lunch or do all-day grazing. I admit that I thought most of the producers wouldn’t be local but I was wrong & found several local producers that I’d never heard of.
If you get your tickets early then they include a ticket for the super theatre to see the celebrity chefs. See you there in November.

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I Miss Bread Meats Bread!

So the flat is no longer ours, we’ve started our jobs up in Inverness & unpacked enough boxes at my folks to do us until we get in the new house. Being up here has some perks – I spent last night at a friends drinking wine with the girls – but I’m yet to find a new Bread Meats Bread. If someone can point me in the direction of a pink burger in a brioche bun I will be running straight there.
Fine, I admit it, I’ve become a burger snob. It’s Glasgow’s fault for giving me such an amazing range of good-quality burger places. So until I find somewhere up here like that (or make a Glasgow trip), I’ll reminisce over my last visit to BMB.

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The last few times I’ve been here I’ve had a fullhouse burger or a smokey and this occasion was no different. You’ve heard it all before but I wanted to write about it again for new readers – and I guess when I feel that they are doing what they do so well, I want success for them. Anyway, the burger was a pinky medium (you can ask for it cooked through), the cheese was all gooey, the slow cooked meat was peppery and tender & the brioche bun kept the whole thing together.

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The cheeseburger next to me was going down equally as well & ‘the wolf’ across the table was being savagely wolfed down.

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The side orders are big enough to feed more than one so a chips and a sweet potato fries was enough for the four of us. If you have tried sweet potato fries yet then do it without hesitation. We added some onion rings too just because we couldn’t resist.

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Their house draught beer (Beer M Beer) is Scottish lager and a 2 pint jug will set you back £7. They also have bottles of two of my favourite beers – Samuel Adams and Blue Moon.

I write this full of hope that someone, somewhere will read it and open up a similar one in Inverness. If you’ve got the money I’ll run it for you! I know that I’m not the only person that raves about it and it’s well deserved. I miss you Bread Meats Bread.

Ubiquitous Chip Restaurant

Some restaurants are special. They demand your attention, pull you in and have you thinking happy thoughts. The Ubiquitous Chip on Ashton Lane is known as a Glasgow institution and their downstairs restaurant brings back memories of Christmas Eve 2012 and all the merriment that comes with good food & lots of tipples. Last Christmas we got a present of a gift voucher to spend in ‘the Chip’ that we kept until now.

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We had our glad rags on and we were sat in a cute little corner table that felt like we were in our own sub-room. Upon booking it had been mentioned that Mr S had a nut allergy & when we arrived there was a special nut free menu for him. This is easier for the staff than faffing around trying to find out ingredients and much more customer friendly, I wish other places would take note.

The pre-starter was eaten before I could remember to write down details, but it was a bit like a gazpacho with a creamy foam if I remember correctly. Mine also had chopped nuts on top.

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We asked our waiter about wine so he said the sommelier would be over but they never appeared. Glasgow is obviously full of wine guzzlers!
We were between two wines and really wanted advice so we asked again and the sommelier appeared. I’m glad that we persisted because the Chateauneuf-du-Pape that we almost ordered turned out to be white (I didn’t even know you got it in white).

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Crisis averted, the wine arrived just before my venison haggis, champit tatties, carrot crisp & turnip cream. I’ve had haggis here before and that’s why I chose it again – it’s fantastic. The accompaniments actually hold their own too instead of blending into the spiced background.

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Mr S chose the scallops – Islay scallops with crispy pork no less, served with fennel and cider cream. Perfectly cooked, the scallops were lifted by the salty pork and the sweet cider.

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We swapped around with me having fish for my main and himself having meat. My dish wasn’t a complete meaty departure though as I ordered the Shetland Cod fillet, sautéed Jersey royals, fennel purée, samphire, shellfish & ham hock velouté. The cod was another element cooked to perfection and I loved the samphire, fennel and shellfish with it. The ham didn’t really do it for me with this dish but I’m not sure why. Mr S tasted it and thought the ham in the dish was lovely so it was probably just me. It was still a really well executed dish.

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Next to me was fillet steak au poivre, truffled peas & dauphinoise potatoes. I was jealous, I’m not going to lie. Being a sterling husband, he let me have some and it was heavenly. I could eat those dauphinoise all day, every day. The meat was tender and cooked medium rare as asked. A bit more peas wouldn’t go amiss but the dish scored very highly with us.

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The dessert debate ensued. Dessert or no dessert, dessert or no dessert? Knowing about our move from Glasgow & that we wouldn’t be at the Chip for a while answered it for me. I went for creme caramel, green apple sorbet, madeleine and Muscat jelly. Each element of the dish was individually delicious and, when put together, a pleasing combination. The green apple sorbet stood out and I’ve thought about how I want a bowl of that sorbet far too much since our visit!

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My husband has a weakness for ice-cream so decided on ‘the Chip’s famous Caledonian oatmeal ice-cream with fruit compote’. The presentation was impressive, especially considering how quickly ice-cream melts. My terrible photography skills don’t show it but it’s rolled up like a Swiss roll. He loved it.

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Afterwards, we went upstairs to enjoy a drink on the fairy lit terrace. We’ve spent many nights here drinking after work and it’s a favourite of mine.

A meal at the restaurant at the Chip is always special. We lapped up the experience & even loved the old guy at the table next to us with the booming laugh. No use in being in a silent restaurant with no atmosphere. The food is among the best in Glasgow and the service is both formal & informal where appropriate. These are people who enjoy what they do and listen to their customers. I miss it already.

Alston – Full Of Memories

Early memories of going out for dinner usually involved mon pere ordering steak. Regardless of what else was on the menu, he chose it because going out was a treat and steak was a rarity at home. Ever since then, a slab of beef to me is synonymous with happy family times. Nowadays I take my meat much pinker but the same principle stands thus why we chose steak for a certain birthday meal. Glasgow has some pretty good steak restaurants now – The Butchershop, Grill On The Corner and The Grill Room are three examples of this. There’s always room for one more to join the party, and one did.

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Alston literally popped up in the basement of Central Station where you’d least expect it. The doorway is easy to miss – go in the main entrance to the station and Gordon St Coffee is on the left and its a single door after that as you’re walking into the station. With some clever decor and lighting the space feels nothing like a dingy basement and more like an explorers cave. I don’t much like the televisions displaying train times but I understand their importance to some. When you enter the cave you are facing the kitchens pass area so get some wonderful meaty smells and sights. Through to the bar area with its gorgeous lights then to the tunnel shaped dining room. What a pretty place and I found myself excited by dining in a venue that was slightly unusual.

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There’s something a bit 1920’s about the place but I can’t put my finger on it. Alston is actually named after Alston Street in Grahamston in Glasgow. The street is long gone but they can carry the name forward. My cocktail choice was the 1873, named after Alston Street’s last year in existence. Caorunn gin, St Germain & blueberry jam sold it to me in an instant and it was as delicious as it sounds. They had Sam Adams too so Mr A was happy.

Menu-wise they have a lunch and pre-theatre menu with two courses for £12 (£3 steak supplement) or three for £15. Buoyed by the birthday celebrations we were eating from the main menu. A quick look online beforehand led us to having the porterhouse to share.

Since we were going big on mains we didn’t want to spoil our appetites with starters so opted for a tin of bread with butter to see us through. The bread was unexpectedly more than worthy of a paragraph. It didn’t arrive immediately – often a good sign – and when it did it was warm (contented sigh). A knife was plunged through the middle and we dug in. There was a mini pan of oil & balsamic alongside soft butter so we alternated. At this point I’d like to say that soft butter is underrated in restaurants – little details like this say a lot to me about how hard they’re trying. Anyway, the bread was delicious. Really soft and fluffy on the inside with a nice crust.

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When it was time for our main course they took out Alston branded plates with a big quinelle of no-lump buttery mash. We had ordered sides of buttered greens and sautéed mushrooms, which appeared in little copper pans.

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Then the main event came out – a kilogram of 35 day dry aged porterhouse cooked medium rare. If you get as confused as me about steak names, a porterhouse has a bone down the middle with fillet steak on one side and strip sirloin steak on the other. Negative out of the way first – it was served medium and not medium rare. It didn’t matter too much because the beef that was in front of us was full of flavour and ranked up there with our best steaks.

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A bit of the meat combined with those buttery mushrooms and mash was heaven. I’d ordered béarnaise and Mr A had chosen pepper sauce but we barely used them. It’s worth noting that the other sauces were buttery numbers and the sides were all rather buttery so I wouldn’t go for them.
Mr A was raving about the mushrooms and I loved the buttered greens (broccoli, green beans and leeks if you’re wondering).

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Alongside our chunk of meat we had a glass of wine each. The Cotes Du Rhone had more depth than the Malbec so skip the former if you’re having red meat. There were no wine descriptions on the menu and the restaurant filled up all at once so the staff can’t be expected to describe every one at busy periods.

Desserts were completely out the door after that main course so we had coffee – cute cups.

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The toilets were another plus point – nice decor, powerful hand dryers and good lighting. It took me a minute to figure out which one to go into as the signage is stag & deer heads – am I the only one that prefers a normal sign? Especially after a few drinks!

The meal was a huge birthday success and Alston goes on to my recommended list. I’m sure my dad will be there in no time.

Glasgow You’re Slipping Out Of My Reach

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve felt terrible not saying anything on here about it but this morning I decided that the time has come… I’m leaving Glasgow!
By the end of the year I will no longer live in this amazing city and I’m feeling sad about it this morning. Being away from my friends & family up north finally pulled me back to Inverness when a job offer up there came about.

So that’s why things on here have been so quiet recently. Between painting and decluttering the flat, sorting out getting the flat on the market, working full-time & spending as much time with friends down here as possible, it’s been a busy month.
I have a bit of a backlog so I’ve still got some lovely meals to tell you about and the BBC Good Food Show Glasgow. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to live without Celino’s, La Lanterna and Tempo Tea (among others) so I’ll be up and down the road regularly for the first year at least to wean myself off these delicious addictions.

I intend to still blog on here whenever I’m down visiting folk so make sure you’re signed up for e-mail notifications. It will just mean relentless eating and drinking in a small space of time- I think I’ll manage!

Until then, keep reading what I’ve been up to recently and follow my second blog, Highland Foodie, as I begin this new journey.

I’m going to miss you more than words can say Glasgow.

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Thai Siam – My favourite Glasgow Thai?

Mum & Dad were staying a few months ago and we were deciding where to eat. My dad loves Thai restaurants – a result of a holiday in Thailand and the sharing nature of the meal. We have been to several Thai places in Glasgow with them, but I find it difficult to make a comparison between Thai restaurants so I don’t often write about them. Since then I’ve tried a few and this was my clear favourite so wanted to share it.

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We had a sharing starter between the four of us – it was huge! There was chicken satay, battered prawns, fish cakes, chicken spring rolls & my favourite chicken in pandan leaves. It arrived with spring onions and on a bed of crunchy, shredded vegetables – excellent for cutting through fried food. The dips were fresh & they accommodated Mr S and his nut allergy.

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We had beer and wine, and I couldn’t help mention the beer coolers. They certainly keep your beer cool until the end and were a hit with the beer drinkers.

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We all chose a main course each and shared them. My dads pick was Thai sweet and sour beef. This surprised me because my dad is such a foodie & when I think of sweet and sour I think of the luminous Uncle Bens variety.
How wrong could I be? It was perhaps my favourite main course with no luminous colours to be seen. Notes of tang with a delicate sweetness running through the dish, this was miles away from what I expected.

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We had stir fry with ginger, which was a fresh tasting dish with lots of spring onion and ginger shredded throughout. I particularly liked that the veg had a good bite to it.

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My pick – the red thai curry with chicken – was also lovely. Creamy and aromatic without spice overkill.

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We ordered a couple of rice and one ‘plain’ noodles to accompany the mains. I could have eaten the noodles as a main course by themselves because they were full of flavour.
The egg fried rice was also well executed. Then there was the sticky rice that arrived in this cute wicker thing that was stuck in a block and extremely difficult to get apart! We found it hilarious and we’d over ordered so it wasn’t a big deal but they’d taken sticky rice to a new level of stickiness – not one I’d order again.

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A trip to the toilet led to me finding the first restaurant bathroom I’ve been to in years that still has a cotton towel on a towel ring to dry your hands. Slightly outdated there.

Our waiter was joking with us throughout the meal and fancied himself as a bit of a comedian. We liked him even although most of the jokes were on us so he must have been doing something right.
The high standard of food and the waiter making us feel welcome meant that I enjoyed it more than other Glasgow Thai restaurants. Without a doubt one to try if you like Thai food.