glasgow eating

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

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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. 

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.

McCune Smith

The blogosphere is a great place to find out about what is on in Glasgow and where to go. Twitter and Yelp are my top hits to find those in the know. McCune Smith Cafe is on my side of the city and it had intrigued me but I had never gone in. That was until I started hearing rave reviews from other bloggers.

Named after Dr James McCune Smith, the first African American to get a medical degree back in 1837, the owner seems passionate about history and books. The fact that this event took place nearby at Glasgow’s Old College on High Street makes it all the more meaningful.

I’ve got to admit, and I’m an East-ender, that the location is a strange choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the strip of commercial units at the start of Duke Street (just after High Street) thriving and turned into places that I’d go to, it’s just unexpected. Logistically it makes sense with offices nearby, Merchant City custom nearby, High Street train station a minutes walk and being in the gateway to the ‘Stoun. I can only hope now that others will follow suit and the start of Dennistoun will be welcoming. There’s definitely been a marked difference in Dennistoun this year with new places opening that are geared to people who are enthusiastic about food and drink.

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McCune Smith Cafe are certainly enthusiastic about their food and drink. The whole decor from when you walk up to the place is stylish and understated. It has that quiet confidence about it that gives me a sense of calm. The menu is simple but we still couldn’t decide what to have. I had heard in the blogosphere that the specials are always lovely but there was nothing on the board the day we went in. It was a Saturday and I understand that most of their custom comes in during the week but I still think they had neglected a crucial part of the experience. We fancied a salad and the staff were happy to make one with the ingredients that they had but I think it is important to have ones made up on the board or on the menu.

The dreich day made me order a cup of tea and my friend had a hot chocolate. I was immediately jealous when I saw hers arrive – the stylish element isn’t limited to the decor.

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I chose the namesake sandwich – the words pastrami and gherkin sold it to me. It reminded me of the kind of sandwich that you make every so often when you spend ages buying quality ingredients from the bakery, deli and so on then lovingly put it together and it tastes heads & shoulders above any sandwich served in a cafe. The kind that you make once a year because it requires far too much effort! McCune Smith managed it – quality soft rye bread, peppery pastrami, thick sliced gouda wrapped in a creamy, crisp caper & gherkin relish. They served it with some dressed and seasoned rocket that showed attention to the small details.

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The ‘David Hume’ across the table looked equally delicious. They didn’t scrimp on the hot smoked roast salmon, and the pickled cucumbers made the bagel. seasoned cream cheese completed it, with more of that rocket on the side to stuff inside.

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The cake looked so good but I can’t stand bananas so I passed it up. It was rich with walnut and banana slices and was warmly received at the other side of the table.

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My scone was a solid effort and nicely toasted. My only negative is that there were no fruit scones and, in my opinion, the fruit makes a scone.

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Everything is done to a high standard in McCune Smith – from the decor to the sandwiches to the cakes. So many cafes serve bog standard offerings that it puts me off going in, but not this one. Job well done, I hope it is here to stay!

Ox & Finch

The street and pop-up food scene in Scotland right now is worth raving about. No more 30% meat content greasy burgers and more pulled pork with pomegranate. Names like Breaking Bread, Three Sisters Bake and Scoop are constantly on my radar. The former just opened a permanent restaurant in Glasgow called Ox & Finch. I learnt from social media that they are all about contemporary small dishes.

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We phoned to book that morning and they only had 5pm tables left. Good sign. We took the early bird booking and first impressions were positive. The space is effortlessly cool, elegant but not pretentious.

They had run out of the wine that we ordered but our waiter was able to advise us on the other choices so we ended up with a quaffable white burgundy. White burgundy you say? The name doesn’t seem logical to me either but I’d never have chosen it myself so it was pleased.

We ordered bread with oil and, whilst we enjoyed the bread, wanted balsamic to go with it.

The scallops we ordered were presented beautifully, I love their crockery. They were smaller in size and Mr S thought a fourth wouldn’t have gone amiss as a reflection of that. The scallops and cauliflower puree had a nice flavour but the larda di colonnata didn’t add much. I wanted another dimension to the dish – something acidic maybe.

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Ham hock and cheddar croquettes had been perfected. Lots of ham and a lovely crunch on the outside.

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Another star dish was the hanger steak, mushrooms and onion rings. Each little element had been cooked with care & attention, and the hanger was flavourful.

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House sausage with smoked ham hock beans was much, much better than expected. It was Mr S that chose it & one of those times in marriage when you decide to compromise. How exciting can sausages & beans be? Actually my husband was right because it was a solid dish. The homemade sausage was meaty & herby, and the beans were certainly not humdrum.

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My favourite dish was crispy fried squid, chilli & orange salad. I have an affinity for squid anyway but the coating on this was extra crispy and the fresh orange cut through it. Slightly over seasoned in my opinion but I didn’t care. Saffron aioli was the perfect dip.

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By this point I was stuffed to the gunnels. But we had been lusting after having dinner in Ox & Finch for a while so I wasn’t going to waste it. Bring on the dessert.
On of the desserts had popcorn so I instantly chose it. The menu said ‘dark chocolate cremeux, popcorn, peanuts & banana ice-cream’. Having no idea what cremeux was didn’t put me off- the kitchen had gained my confidence. We both swapped the banana ice-cream for vanilla & Mr S had his sans nuts. It was so fantastic that I ate the whole thing before remembering how full I was.

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The restaurant changed their menu shortly after our visit so you won’t currently be able to get all of the above but I’m pretty sure that the dishes that you get will be made with skill. Their website writes that they are contemporary dining and I am happy to see a changing menu to fit the claim. They have used their wealth of experience to open a place that Glasgow should be proud of.

Fanny Trollopes

My big sister was down visiting me and we were going to a show at the Hydro. I was looking for a restaurant to book and chose Fanny Trollopes.The location was right and I have been a handful of times before and liked it. I had not been for a while after having a mediocre meal but every meal before that left with me raving about Fanny’s so this return visit was long overdue.

 

A bottle of red was ordered but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. We both liked it though. The red wines are all priced between £14.95 and £19.95 – pretty decent prices.

We had a little pre-starter of salmon with salad, crème fraiche and capers. Not usually one for salmon, I tentatively put some on my fork but it was actually lovely. I’d have happily eaten it as a starter with a few more leaves and will keep an eye out for it next time.

 

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We both chose the pre-theatre menu, which is £12.95 for two courses. Our first starter was smoked salmon kedgeree with crème fraiche. It was delicately spiced so the salmon flavour still got a look in and had a slight smokiness. The crème fraiche was nice to bring some zingy creaminess into the dish.

 

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I chose spicy mince koftas with a cucumber and mint dressing as my starter. The cucumber and mint dressing was just like the tzatziki I was eating in Greece earlier in the year and I liked the aromatic koftas. The meat was a little more cooked than I would have done at home.

 

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I’ve had gammon here before and really enjoyed it so as soon as I spotted baked ham on the menu my main course was decided. My sister was convinced by the colcannon so we both had the same. It was good, in fact I’d say great. Comforting, tasty and meaty. The honey and mustard on the ham almost melted into the gravy and the ham itself was melt in the mouth.

 

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We still had a fair bit of wine in the bottle so thought we might as well share a dessert. The weather was rubbish so we stuck with the comfort food theme and ordered sticky toffee pudding. The sponge was soft and there was lots of sauce to scoop up with each mouthful. We struggled to finish it but that wasn’t a reflection on the food – eyes bigger than our bellies.

 

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Fanny Trollopes is another place in Glasgow that often flies under the radar and, as much as I want to keep it to myself, I also want to share it. Our waitress, Harriet, was friendly and accomodating. The pre-theatre menu is remarkably good value for money and they nail the neighbourhood bistro brief.

 

 
Fanny Trollopes on Urbanspoon

Eat Cafe

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 
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Cubatas – Brave Glasgow Tapas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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