glasgow restaurant

Spanish Style Catch Ups At La Boca

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

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


Pimientos de Padron

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

Pimientos del Piquillo

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

Boquerones

 

Chorizo al Vino

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

 

Croquetas Caseras

Morcilla


Chipirones

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

Patatas Bravas

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

 

Secreto Iberico (£7.50)


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

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

Advertisements

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. 

 

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.

IMG_8258.JPG

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.

IMG_6858.JPG

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).

IMG_6867.JPG

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.

IMG_6863.JPG

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.

IMG_6861.JPG

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.

IMG_6873.JPG

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.

IMG_6871.JPG

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!

IMG_6880.JPG

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.

IMG_6878.JPG

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.

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.

1-IMG_5599

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.

1-IMG_5602

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.

1-IMG_5601

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.

1-IMG_5608

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.

1-IMG_5616

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

1-IMG_5615

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.

1-IMG_5612

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.

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

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.

IMG_5742-0.JPG

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.

IMG_5759.JPG

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

IMG_5752.JPG

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.

IMG_5757.JPG

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.

IMG_5764.JPG

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.

IMG_5749.JPG

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.

IMG_5766.JPG

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.

 

1-IMG_4780

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.

 

1-IMG_4782

 

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.

 

1-IMG_4785

 

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.

 

1-IMG_4786

 

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.

 

1-IMG_4790

 

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

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…