girl around glasgow

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. 

Advertisements

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. 

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

Sea-ing The Real Gannet

In February we visited The Gannet restaurant in Finnieston for the first time. Due to a ‘table back by’ issue we never had as relaxed a visit as we thought we would. When the owner heard about this he got in touch to find out details & invited us back to the restaurant. The customer service from him was exemplary and he made us feel valued and welcomed.

 

We arrived for lunch & were given a glass of pink fizz. A nice way to read the menu!

 

1-IMG_6082

 

A pre-starter of pickled herring, carrot, dill, crème fraiche and lettuce arrived soon after. We would never have chosen pickled herring as a starter but after this dish I would. The pickle wasn’t overbearing so the natural taste of the fish could come through and the accompaniments went well. I see that they’ve put it on the menu now and I want to go back for it.

 

 

1-IMG_6088

 

Then my Stornaway black pudding scotch duck egg arrived. By this point I was glad that I skipped breakfast – it was massive! The execution of this dish gets 10/10. The crumb was crispy, the ratio of egg to black pudding was spot on, the egg was totally runny, the sauce gribiche provided a slight creamy tang and the leaves were there for freshness. Our Cotes Du Rhone was full bodied enough to cope with the black pudding.

 

 

1-IMG_6094

 

It was so big that they gave us a break before the main course to get a second wind.

When we were ready our pork arrived. I had pork for my main course last time I visited The Gannet & it was something special so I chose it again. This time there was pork belly and loin, cooked exactly how I would want it to be. The pork comes from a farm in the borders and it is fantastically tasty. White onion purée was smooth & sweet, mashed potato was silky and spring greens were buttery. The jus made from the meat juices was rich and finished the plate perfectly. It slotted straight in to my top five favourite main courses this year.

 

 

1-IMG_6101

 

I like a refreshing lemon dessert so went for the lemon posset. It was exactly what I expected from a posset but I was jealous of the caramel fondant on the other side of the table!

 

 

1-IMG_6112

 

I really should have chosen the exciting option. The feedback from the other side of the table on the caramel fondant was ‘awesome’ – simple but I caught the drift. I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen Mr S so happy with a dessert, it bowled him over.

 

 

1-IMG_6108

 

We wandered into Kelvingrove Park in a food coma to lie in the sun. It was only a month ago but we have to recreate that soon. The Gannet does two courses for £15 or three for £19 on their lunch menu, which is spectacular value. I notice that they’ve started a small plates menu (£5 average) that is really appealing to me for lunch. I can’t praise them enough.

 

Gannet on Urbanspoon

A Tuk Tuk In Edinburgh?

No, not an actual 3 wheeled tuk-tuk, a restaurant called Tuk Tuk. Although I’d love to see tuk-tuks going about Edinburgh streets. Someone should make this happen, this would be sensational as a wedding car. Anyway, back to Tuk Tuk the restaurant. We visited for lunch after watching the Commonwealth diving and by the time we arrived we were more than ready for a curry. The restaurant is right opposite the Kings Theatre so I am sure that it fills up pretty quickly around 5pm so we wanted to get in early. First impressions were good – modern, colourful decor with funky lighting.

1-20140730

They have a BYOB policy for beer and wine but we stuck to soft drinks at lunch. For a casual restaurant I love the idea of BYOB and it would be ideal for larger groups not wanting to worry about how big the bill is getting. Since we were not drinking, I took it as an opportunity to try Thums Up ‘the cola of Bombay’. Coca-cola have conditioned me to think of their flavour as normal and any other coke as abnormal but I love a Barr’s every so often so thought I’d give this a go. I liked it and it reminded me of Barr’s.

1-P1000972

We did not know how many dishes to order as it is tapas style so the waiter helped us choose seven dishes plus rice and naan between the two of us.

We were told that everything might not arrive together and asked if that was okay. The quicker dishes start coming, the better in my opinion. The Bengali fish cakes (£4.95) were first to the table which boded well as they were a starter kind of option. I thought these were great and reminded me of little fish balls that we ate in The Maldives. The sauce was kind of minty and I would never normally put mint with fish, but with the spice going through the cakes it worked.

1-P1000978

The channa puri (£4.85) was delivered at the same time and we were also really happy with this dish. This is a dish that I like to order as a starter when out for a curry and Tuk Tuk do a fine example of it. It was creamy & rich but not cloying, and the fried bread was crispy enough to scoop the chickpeas into your mouth.

1-P1000976

Chicken 69 (£4.75) was the third pick – described as mouth watering chicken nuggets, an Indo-Chinese delicacy. On appearance it reminded me of something that you’d pick up from a takeaway and not big nuggets of chicken as we had expected. I didn’t enjoy the taste either. My tastebuds couldn’t work out what the flavours were and I could just taste a kind of sour taste. Maybe others like it but it was not for us.

left - chicken 69, red pan - lamb station curry, right - staff curry

left – chicken 69, red pan – lamb station curry, right – staff curry

The garlic naan (£2.20) that had now arrived was far more pleasing. It was thinner than a conventional naan bread, so was not as stodgy, and the garlic butteriness just right. We ended up trying the cheese naan too and it was also great. The cheese was sandwiched inside the dough and there wasn’t an overkill of cheese.

1-P1000986

My sister in-law always picks a lentil dish when we eat curry and I pick a meat dish but the tapas style eating at Tuk Tuk afforded me both. Daal Makhni (£4.95) is slow cooked lentils and kidney beans so they go kind of creamy and then are mixed with spices. Mr S had to sit this one out because of his nut allergy but I wanted to try it because the guy recommended it. I couldn’t eat the whole thing – definitely one for sharing – but it is a good dish for scooping up with naan. I will pass on the recommendation to my sister in-law for next time she’s in the ‘burgh.

 

1-P1000988

 

Our three meaty curry dishes chosen were railway station lamb curry (£5.20), lamb rarah (£5.25) and tuktuk wallah staff curry (£4.90). There’s always a favourite curry that you all end up using to dip your naan into and the staff curry won that award. The chicken was moist and it had a deep aromatic piquancy without being too hot. I’d absolutely go back for one of these with naan and daal makhni for lunch.

 

The two lamb curries both had meat on the bone to pick off. In fact, all of our meat dishes were on the bone. That was an ordering rookie mistake from us because it was a lot of picking. We were probably just being lazy – usually we like meat on the bone because we know how much rich meaty flavour it adds. Anyway, on first appearances there was not much meat but we realised that you just have to get right in there with those bones.

The lamb rarah turned out to be a bit too spicy for me but Mr S liked it. The railway station curry was slightly milder but I could not pick out the individual tastes except from spinach.

 

1-P1000987

 

Due to the bring your own bottle policy, dinner at Tuk Tuk would only cost about £20 per head for a feast. That is pretty impressive and ideal being opposite the Kings Theatre. I thought that portion size was just right for sharing and price charged. As I said before, I’d suggest the staff curry and daal makhni with some naan but I’d like to further investigate the other dishes. Give the chicken 69 a miss and try something traditional.

 

Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food on Urbanspoon

 

I was invited to the restaurant for a complimentary meal. As always my views and opinions are my own.

Scran and Scallie

I’ve had The Kitchin restaurant in Edinburgh at the top of my most wanted list for a long time. They have a long waiting list (I’m not the best planner that far in advance) and it would need to be saved for a special occasion so we have not made it yet. Then I heard about The Scran & Scallie, a gastropub in Edinburgh owned by Tom Kitchin & Dominic Jack. They do not accept reservations so there was no real planning required except from getting there before peak dining time because I’d heard that they fill up pretty quickly.

There are a lot of 30th birthday celebrations going on this year and this was one of them. Therefore we arrived in Edinburgh later than planned as we took a gin and tonic detour! To set us up for the walk to Stockbridge we nipped into Harvey Nichols fourth floor Window Bar to enjoy a cocktail with that amazing view.

1-IMG_4600

It took us about half an hour to walk to Stockbridge but I enjoy looking at all of the old buildings and indulging in a bit of house lust. We arrived about 4.30pm but we were told that they don’t start serving food until 5pm (they also serve lunch earlier) so we could sit and have a drink until service starts. The bar area is quite small and appears to be more for people having a drink waiting for tables than an actual bar.

1-IMG_4608

Williams Bros £1.95 & Orkney IPA £2.50 (half pints)

Tables have to be back in an hour and a half in the restaurant area. To me The Scran & Scallie is not a pub because in a pub that does food they usually serve meals all day, you’d wouldn’t be told to give the table back so soon on a Wednesday and there would be more people using it as a boozer. It felt more like a restaurant. Not a problem but that is how it appeared to me. If we had arrived an hour earlier I would have been annoyed that the website did not state the food service times and table back policy. We’d come all the way from Glasgow for it- the least they can do in return is be upfront. That is not to take away from the place because the decor and feel of it is a delightful mix of Scottish and Scandinavian with simple furnishings and lots of wood. I really enjoyed our visit.

1-P1000668

Warm bread arrived in a mini sack and I had soon forgotten about our table wait.

1-IMG_4610

Their whole ethos is ‘from nature to plate’ so I knew that the squat lobster ravioli with asparagus would be freshly made. The three ravioli were in a creamy but fresh sauce and the asparagus was fantastic with it.

1-P1000675

Ox tongue on toast should be the new comfort food, it certainly ticks the rich and satisfying boxes. The bone marrow continued the theme with its jellied meatiness. And the egg, I’m not sure it was even needed, but I never question a soft egg on my plate. Especially a flavoursome, proper farm egg.

1-P1000673

Steak pie, hogget, steak pie, hogget? Choices, choices. I really wanted the ham and chips but I didn’t want us to order the same main. I had never tried hogget before so I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity. It is a slow cooked meat and had an even softer texture than lamb shank. Darker in colour, it is more intense than meat from a younger sheep. To be honest, I found it too strong in flavour for me. I liked the peas surrounding it but felt that some mash would not have gone amiss. I ordered a side of potatoes as well but they did not really match up with the dish and just notched the already expensive (£19) price up.

1-P1000684

The ham, egg and chips came with a side of contented silence. The presentation got top marks from us, the taste of the ham also got top marks. The homemade pineapple salsa is something that we’ve tried to recreate since but have never managed to get it exactly correct. In my opinion the egg did not need the breadcrumbs but that’s being pernickity. I hope that this dish never comes off the menu.

1-P1000676

As I mentioned before, the hogget was rich and I couldn’t manage the whole thing so took it home with me to give to Mr S. Bar my vaccum packed steak at Chez Bruce, it was the fanciest looking doggy bag I’d had.

1-IMG_4619

Apple crumble came with its own jug of custard. Great balance ratio of fruit to crumble with a slight crunch on top.

1-IMG_4613

I chose lemon curd and meringue & it came in an elegant champagne coupe. It was a cross between a lemon posset and lemon curd with a layer of biscuity crumble and then delicate piped meringues sitting on top. Lovely.

1-IMG_4616

It is undeniable that I was impressed by The Scran & Scallie. The food was all of a high standard and the presentation impressive. I still feel slightly confused by the marketing but maybe that’s just me. I won’t be back for three courses because I felt rushed at the end but the ham, egg and chips warrants a second visit.

The Scran & Scallie on Urbanspoon

prices: starters £9

mains £18/19

desserts £5.50/5.75

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.

1-IMG_56851-IMG_56861-IMG_56871-IMG_56881-IMG_56901-IMG_56911-IMG_56931-IMG_60421-IMG_57001-IMG_5697

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

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…

 

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.

 

Image

 

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?

Burger Then Wine

I won a competition in March on Twitter and my prize was two tickets for a wine-tasting night with Pieter Rosenthal in Curlers Rest on Byres Road.

We wanted some fairly inexpensive scran beforehand so tried out TriBeCa for the first time as it is only five minutes walk away. I’ve heard lots about their pancakes and waffles but it was 5pm and they seem like brunch food so we had burgers. I won’t go into too much detail but the burgers were large, chips got the thumbs up, lots of accessories to choose from but the meat was fairly tasteless. I thought that I was getting a burger with cheese in the middle of the patty but the cheese was just in between two patties.
I’m coming back for their pancakes another day because I’m fairly confident that I’ll prefer TriBeCa as a brunch place.

 

IMG_3620IMG_3621IMG_3624IMG_3625IMG_3626

 

Anyway, back to wine night. Curlers had reserved most of upstairs for the tasting and had it arranged as three long bench style areas. We sat at the front because I can struggle to hear at these events. There were around 30 of us and we were given tasting note sheets to write notes if we wanted.

Pieter gave a brief outline as to what the night would entail & about new and old world wines. Old world wine producers include France, Italy & Germany among others and tend to use methods passed down from generation to generation. New world wine producers include New Zealand, South America, Australia and South Africa & use more up to date methods. I knew a bit about this already but I find the topic interesting so I’m happy to listen again and learn a few new snippets of knowledge.

 

IMG_3628

 

During the tasting we compared an old world wine with a new world wine for each section. After each comparison we voted on whether we preferred the old or new one. The old world wines won the battle! The general consensus was that many of the new world ones were better for session drinking but the old world ones were better for serious flavour and meals.

 

Some of the snacks they gave us were a bit random for a wine tasting!

Some of the snacks they gave us were a bit random for a wine tasting!

 

I had a great night at the tasting and found Pieter to be informative without boring me with too much detail. Tickets are only £6, which I think is a bargain for wine tasting. It would provide novices with a solid introduction to the world of wine.