restaurant review

‘Babs

When I was in my twenties I could style out a hangover with the best of them but now not so much. This day I never even put make-up on because nothing was going to hide the 5am (or was it 6am? Who knows) bedtime. Four of us were meeting up for lunch and I knew that I wanted to try ‘Babs on West Nile Street.

Their Facebook page describes them as:

‘BABS is a modern gourmet kebab house located on West Nile Street, right at the heart of Glasgow City centre.

We strive to create great street food dishes using charcoal-fire grill that make the most of seasonal and ethical produce, while respecting kebab’s culinary Greek, Turkish and Levantine heritage.

I knew from the photos that it wasn’t going to be a Glasgow kebab house as some might think of them- this was one to enjoy when you can remember it, not one to drunkenly forget.


First appearances were positive, in all honesty I wanted to steal their lights because they are gorgeous. Another mention has to go to all of the tiling on the floor and tables.

Then the food arrived on lovely crockery and I was just keeping my fingers crossed that I liked the food as much as I liked where it was housed.
My lamb kebab was fantastic – juicy, pink lamb, creamy tsatziki, crunchy veg, pickled cucumber and great flatbread.


The other lamb offering looked just as good, with the only criticism being that the bread was a little hard.


In our hungover greediness, we had ordered some lamb chops on the side. It was a silly move given that most of us had lamb main courses and more than enough food, but the chops were so tasty that we didn’t care one bit. I could eat them all day long.

We ordered most of the sides that were on the menu and I liked the arancini the best. Bonus points for the fact that they change the arancini flavours regularly too.


‘Babs was a great location for our hungover girly lunch and I’ve even been back since.

I love how affordable it is but without compromising on quality. Another fantastic addition to Glasgow’s food scene, well done ‘Babs.

Fire Me Up Firebird

My in-laws are pretty good at choosing restaurants in Glasgow. They always seem to find gems that I’ve maybe thought about going to but never quite got round to it. A Finnieston favourite – Firebird – is one of these places. It fits in the crossover bar/food/bistro category and recently I went for lunch. And yes, I already want to go back for dinner.

 

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They have a very reasonable lunch deal on where it’s £7.50 a combo. The combo options are soup & a sandwich, soup & half a pizza, sandwich & chips or half a pizza & salad. Their pizzas came recommended so I knew that was going to be my choice, and the parsnip, carrot & kale soup on the board caught my eye.
My friend was also eyeing up the soup so she went for the soup & sandwich combo.

The soup was thick and had so much flavour. Kale never seems an appetizing option by itself but mixed with the carrot and parsnip it was diluted so it worked. It had the added bonus of making me feel healthy because kale is such a superfood. I love the soup along the road at Cushion & Cake, and this soup was on par with that. That’s a big compliment.

 

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My half pizza that I chose to go alongside the soup was n’duja and red onion. N’duja is a spicy Calabrian spreadable sausage. I’ve only ever had it in pasta before, and although I’m a bit of a wimp with spicy dishes, I enjoy the taste. So I asked for some water and ordered it. Boy was it hot! Enjoyably spicy though and it was one of those times when I was determined to finish it because I was fond of it.

 

Lindsey had a sandwich to go with her soup and all four sandwich options sounded interesting, even the veggie option. She decided on the Serrano ham, manchego cheese and sliced apple filling. Those three actually paired really successfully with the soup and showed that Firebird has promise.

 

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On our way out I noticed that they were selling their own organic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil so I had to grab a bottle. They were selling it for £5 or £6 but it hasn’t been opened yet so I can’t comment on the flavour. Then we went for a walk in the nearby Kelvingrove Park, one of my favourite places in the city.

 

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Next time I go to Firebird would ideally be in a group so that we could share a pasta, pizza, meat dish and small plate because the menu options have such imagination and I want to try each one. Firebird is also a relaxed place to sit with a positive vibe. The sort of place that you can comfortably catch up on a busy week together. Plan created.

Firebird on Urbanspoon

Roaming To Stravaigin

The first time I went to Stravaigin in Gibson Street was almost 7 years ago. I was there with Mr S and his family to celebrate his graduation & I remember thinking the menu was so adventurous. I had monkfish with risotto – I can barely remember things from last month but my brain carved out space for remembering that risotto. Recently we were in the West End and decided to pop in for dinner.

 

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Stravaigin is an old Scottish word that means to roam or wander so it seems appropriate for the food that is inspired by different places around the world. They have traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, neeps & tatties and then they have things from further afield like nasi goreng and frittata.

We had not booked and, as it was a Friday night, it was heaving. We were told it would be about half an hour for a table – the perfect amount of time to enjoy one of their French Martini’s at the bar. Stravaigin is split into three areas. There is the more formal restaurant downstairs, the relaxed upstairs restaurant and the bar. I’ve heard that some of it is also dog friendly for those not wanting to leave the pooch at home.

 

I love the lights in the bar

I love the lights in the bar

 

We were sat on the mezzanine level in the relaxed upstairs part. This part of the place is very bistro-esque with a relaxed atmosphere and smallish, close knit tables. There were rumbling bellies so we ordered some bread and steamed west coast mussels, sweet chilli & coriander. We were glad we ordered the bread because the tasty mussel juices were begging to be mopped up.

 

Mussels £6.45, bread £1.95

Mussels £6.45, bread £1.95

 

Only then did we decide on our main feasts. Mr S opted for the seared featherblade and I was excited by the venison special. There seems to be a fashion for using tastier, non-traditional cuts of beef at the moment and Mr S almost always chooses this option. I’ve seen skirt steak and flank steak and I’ve heard of featherblade but this was my first time tasting it. These meats are always served red/pink because they go tough if they are cooked any longer. Mr S really enjoyed it & was also raving about the chunky chips and flatcap mushrooms that accompanied it. Good portion size too. After ordering dishes like this three times now it was rated as second best out of the three. He didn’t like the chimichurri sauce that accompanied it and I’d be inclined to agree. I don’t want an oily sauce to accompany steak and I’ve never been converted to chimichurri. For bread maybe but not steak. When it arrived we tasted the chimichurri then asked our waitress for some whisky sauce instead. Within five minutes we were back on track with a ‘want to lick the dish’ whisky sauce.

 

£16.95

£16.95

 

 

My venison haunch was served with carrot purée, rosemary sautéed baby potatoes and jerusalem artichokes and a neep relish. The dish looked good and I like a vegetable crisp on top of a dish for bite. All of the elements of the dish complemented each other well so credit to the chef who designed the dish. The venison haunch was tasty, if slightly more cooked than I would have liked (but I understand that everyone likes venison cooked to varying levels). My only real niggle was that there was a smattering of gravy/jus around the plate but nowhere near enough. The bites I took that had some were greatly improved by those that did not. I shared the whisky sauce (that actually went with the flavourings) but if that had not have been on the table I would not have enjoyed the dish as much.

 

£18.95

£18.95

 

 

To end the meal we shared some homemade churned mint chocolate ice-cream with an Anzac cookie. The ice-cream had an amazing flavour and obviously used quality ingredients. I wouldn’t usually have chosen mint chocolate but it was the ice-cream of the day so thought we’d order it & it was a good move. It was quite difficult to eat melting ice-cream on a slightly warm plate instead of a bowl but it just made us eat quicker! We’ll know to ask for a bowl next time.

 

£5.25

£5.25

 

 

On another note, I want to mention that they do wine flights for you to enjoy with your meal because I love this idea. I am a slow drinker so a few smaller measures means I can try more.

We had a terrific impromptu meal at Stravaigin and I look forward to roaming back sometime soon.

 

 

 

 

Three Courses At The Gannet

Every so often a restaurant opens that I get really excited about – somewhere that I know in my gut will be marvellous. In 2013 this restaurant was The Gannet on Argyle Street. I love the name and we were looking forward to being Gannets for the night. It’s hardly surprising that it is located in Finnieston where all the cool kids play. Two renowned chefs, Ivan Stein & Peter McKenna, got together with a business partner to open this dainty bar and restaurant. I heard much about it online before it opened but there was no pre-opening blogger night that I know of so I never found the right time to visit until February.

 

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The reason for my delay in writing is because I felt I needed more time to weigh up my thoughts on the place and then March madness happened and suddenly it was almost two months ago. So now I’ve decided to just write and see what comes out.

 

We booked our table almost three weeks in advance because we were going on a Saturday night and on the Saturday at noon we received a voicemail to confirm the booking. I like efficiency so this was a plus but when Mr S phoned back we were told that the table was to be back in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Now, I’ll just get the rant out of the way now because this really gave me a negative impression before I had even visited. If we had been told when we originally booked the table then I completely understand but telling us on the day is a bit like when you get a letter from the bank changing the terms and conditions on your bank account and suddenly charging you for something new – you never signed up for that and feel hard done by. After a discussion we called back and asked if it would be possible to come in half an hour earlier than we had booked for so that we didn’t feel rushed and they said that was fine.

 

On arrival the place was buzzing and is obviously popular. We were seated upstairs in a cosy little bit with four tables.

 

Now the important food stuff. A starter of scallops, celeriac, chicken wing and sauce stuck out for me in the menu. I like all of them individually but would they taste as good on one plate? In my opinion yes they did. Rich celeriac purée muddled with the meaty, salty wing and the almost sweet scallop. There was also a ring of celeriac on the plate that provided a bit more bite but I would have preferred more purée. Saying that, I thought this was a fabulous starter.

 

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Scallops £9.50

 

Crisp rabbit croquettes with piccalilli arrived as 6 bite sized squares of rabbit with the piccalilli around about them. They were indeed very crispy little game bites and the piccalilli was robust enough to match them.

 

Rabbit Croquettes £6

Rabbit Croquettes £6

 

The special starter when we were visiting was langoustines and, if I remember correctly, were priced at £11.50. What was on the plate was good – it was simple so displayed the fresh seafood at its best. It was just a tiny portion and this eclipsed all else because you were left feeling unsatisfied. Three langoustines came out of the kitchen instead of the usual five or six that restaurants dish up. There was also no tools offered to help get the meat out from the claws so it was difficult to take advantage of what was there.

 

Langoustines

Langoustines

 

We had a delicious Sauvignon Blanc to wash everything down with and to keep us happy whilst waiting for the main courses. I was looking forward to my slow cooked loin of Ardunan farm pork, potato, spinach, crisp salsify and pork sauce. When it arrived I tucked straight in and knew straight away that I had made the right choice. The pork itself was shoulders above any pork loin that I had tried – it had a beautiful flavour and was cooked perfectly. The plate was expertly balanced and really showcased the chefs cooking.

 

Pork £17.50

Pork £17.50

 

There was a fish special ordered but I forgot to write the description down so fish lovers can just lust over the photo. It was met with positive reviews anyway and that is the important thing.

 

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Last to reach the table was the Perthshire venison, red cabbage, butternut squash and game sauce. We had enquired and told that it also came with potato, which arrived as a semi-circle of creamy tatties with a crispy exterior. Again the meat tasted top notch – they are obviously using excellent suppliers and proud of it. The dish was sweet and intense so maybe this was the reason for the small portion size. The general consensus at the table was that it was a ladies portion size and needed that wee bit extra for a man (as terribly sexist as that may sound).

 

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Venison £20

 

Three chocolate fondants and a pear & almond tart with ice-cream were coming our way. The chat stopped on arrival and did not resume for a few minutes – the desserts got the thumbs up. The chocolate fondant was gooey (if I hear on one more cookery show how hard this is to do then I will scream at the tv) and chocolatey, exactly what I wanted and expected. It was served with an ice-cream that tasted like lemon but the pear tart was served with vanilla. we all preferred the vanilla so if I chose it again I’d ask for that.

 

Chocolate Fondant £6

Chocolate Fondant £6

 

Coffees were coming (they also got the thumbs up) but time was getting on and we had to drink them quickly to vacate the table for the time we were told. It was a busy Saturday so there was a fair wait between courses and I don’t mind this at all providing we are given the time to allow it. I did not feel that we were particularly slow at choosing or eating so I’d recommend that you check at the time of booking about their table back by procedure.

 

Pear Tart £5

Pear Tart £5

 

Presentation of every dish was excellent and I found it refreshing that there was not a slate or wooden board in sight.

 

We ended up five minutes over our time but would have stayed longer and ordered more drinks. Instead we nipped along the road to three different bars that were all stowd before jumping in a taxi to the bar at the Grand Central for a cocktail.

 

It was an expensive meal but the quality of the food and the cooking were of a very high standard. Mr S would not rush back because of the portion sizes and booking service but I really want to go back to see if this was an isolated experience because I see such potential. New restaurants are constantly tweaking things and I am sure that The Gannet is no different.

 

 

Gannet on Urbanspoon

Bread Meats Bread – More Than A Fleeting Trend

I attended the opening night of Bread Meats Bread in October and you can read about the night here https://girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/i-meet-bread-meats-bread/

Glasgow is full of new burger places and the blogging world are lapping it up. I managed the whole of January without a single burger so in February I was ready for a Bread Meats Bread outing. I have been back several times since it opened and I’ve watched the inevitable changes that come with a new restaurant learning. They have just changed their menu to account for this and there is one change in particular that I love – bacon fries. They have also now got their alcohol licence so we have been sampling their house draft beer, Sam Adams and Blue Moon and they all got the thumbs up.

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I like that you don’t automatically get fries with the burgers because it makes the meal more of a sharing event. Every time I have been, regardless of who I’m with, we have shared sides. This time we ordered a main each then shared sweet potato fries, bacon chips and a classic poutine between four of us.

The new menu

The new menu

The new smokey burger was a hit with the table. It consists of a house blend burger with swiss cheese, purple slaw, bbq sauce and smoked meat of the day. They let you choose from a meat selection for meat of the day and at our table we had a salami, a pulled pork and a beef brisket. We were also asked how we wanted our burgers cooked and we all said pink. The burger patty was tasty and the toppings were well received.

Smokey burger with pulled pork £8

Smokey burger with pulled pork £8

I was the only one at the table not having a burger in favour of bbq pulled pork on a brioche roll with purple slaw and bbq sauce. It was a similar product to theirs but, after trying the pulled pork previously when it was a special, I wanted all the pork I could get. The in house smoking does wonders for this and it is pulled to order – so tasty. My only criticism is that I’d have liked a touch more bbq sauce. I really like the homemade coleslaw as well, none of this tasteless gloop that I’ve been served by other unnamed establishments.

BBQ pulled pork sandwich £6

BBQ pulled pork sandwich £6

The new and improved fries were fantastic. I have loved the sweet potato fries since they opened but I was told that they have tried and tested different methods and the new sweet potato chips are thinner and crispier. They still come with the spicy mayo that I enjoy thank goodness. Then there was the poutines – this is my second taste of the classic poutine here and its like a fancy chips, cheese and gravy really. I liked them the first time but the gravy was stronger this time making them more flavoursome. The cheese curds are almost lighter than normal cheese somehow. Now on to the star of the show that was the bacon chips. Not only was there bacon on the chips but there was also bacon mayo… bacon. mayo. I was tempted to nip in after work a few days ago for some of this wonderous invention but I stopped myself & forced my legs to run for the bus, cursing myself the whole way home.

Poutine £4, Bacon chips £3, Sweet potato chips £3

Poutine £4, Bacon chips £3, Sweet potato chips £3

I can also vouch for the classic grilled cheese with soup that I tried on a December visit. It’s like a cheese toastie but on a tastier scale and you can dip your cheese in the rich tomato soup for comfort food fulfillment.

Grilled cheese £3, £1 extra with soup

Grilled cheese £3, £1 extra with soup

They didn’t have any brownie when we were in (sob) and the photo I took last time is lost somewhere in my food photo vault but it looks like a brownie in a cup with vanilla ice-cream! The brownie is very gooey and soft. A fully cooked brownie is a gripe of mine that goes hand in hand with my dislike of macaroni arriving as another pasta shape, over-filled white wine glasses and cheddar cheese on pizza – all no-no’s in my book. It is a bold statement but Bread Meats Bread’s brownie is the best brownie that I have eaten in Glasgow.

Bread Meats Bread is casual eating at its best. You cannot book which can be bad but is also good because you don’t get turned away on busy nights. It provides me with comfort food and hasn’t let me down yet so I have great deal of affection for the place.

Bread Meats Bread on Urbanspoon

Celinos Makes Dennistoun

I have written about Dennistoun before and have mentioned a few times my love for Celinos. This cafe/restaurant/deli was a small deli when I first moved to Dennistoun with four rickety tables. I’d go in for takeaway pork rolls and olives. A couple of years in they expanded and there’s now about 17 tables and a dedicated deli side. They sell a wide selection of meat, cheese, pasta, wine etc to takeaway and even sell Celinos shopper bags (I have four!).
The restaurant menu changes from day to night & they also have lunch and pre-theatre menus. I’d recommend the penne salsiccia aurora, macaroni cheese, pollo milanese, pollo bianco, the soprano & focaccia. And the soups and pizzas are pretty great too. They have got Moretti on tap to wash it all down.

 

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Celinos is somewhere that I regularly meet friends for coffee or lunch. I have been so busy in January that I wasn’t in at all so the first free day off I had I popped in. Alan (the maître d’ or front of house manager) greets everyone like an old friend – it’s no wonder that he was a runner up for best front of house in the Scottish Italian Awards 2013. He is always on the ball and, working in a restaurant, I can almost see what he is thinking at times. Definitely a major asset to the place.

 

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Anyway, Alan made sure I got a good seat & a drink straight away. They sell cans of San Pellegrino Aranciata so I usually have that or the blood orange one. When it came to ordering I really wanted the seabass with leek risotto that used to be on the pre-theatre menu & the head chef kindly arranged to make it for me. This is the type of place Celinos is – the staff working there seem passionate about what they do & have an understanding of what brings people back. They appear to genuinely care if you enjoyed your visit. Unfortunately this is not apparent in many places that I visit so it stands out.

 

 

I sat back and made use of the free wi-fi to do some blogging and the place literally filled up in minutes. During the day it is busy and bustling with a mixture of people.

 

My dish arrived and I was offered freshly ground black pepper. The seabass was cooked perfectly with a really crispy skin. The risotto was creamy and cheesy with a slight sweetness from the leek. Together it was a rich and indulgent mouthful & exactly as I remembered it.

 

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I noticed that the pre-theatre menu now has seabass with infused rice so I’ll try that next time if I can drag myself away from the pasta.

I ended the meal with a cappuccino & when I asked for a coffee Alan knew straight away that I drink cappuccinos. Even my dad who lives in Inverness talks about Celinos coffee. It’s strong, Italian coffee that packs a punch & wakes me up when I’m hungover or tired!

 

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I paid the bill and forced myself to walk past the deli counter and not buy a big Italian loaf & goddess olives. Until next time!

Read my post on Dennistoun here:

https://girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/have-you-been-to-dtoun-lately/

(I’d like to make it clear that I received no payment for this review & I paid for my meal. I just rave because Celinos is my local & I have a great deal of affection for it!)

 

 

Celino's on Urbanspoon

Barolo Grill Gets Me Out Of The Winter Chill

Last month I was out doing some Christmas shopping so I decided to reward myself with a mulled wine from the Christmas market at St Enoch. It all went downhill from there! I gave up on the shopping and Mr S decided that he was going to take me out for dinner. Our normal haunts were fully booked so we thought that we’d try Barolo Grill on Mitchell Street. We have been in once before when it first opened with my in-laws and I remember the pasta being nice, especially the crab carbonara. The restaurant is owned by the Di Maggio’s group, who seem to be taking over Glasgow with their chain of eateries. I’m not a huge fan of Di Maggio’s but I like Cafe Andaluz and we have been meaning to go back to Barolo. When I went on to their website to get the phone number to book, the first thing I saw in big, bold letters was “Newest addition to the vibrant culinary scene in Glasgow city centre”. I went two years ago so time for a website update perhaps? Besides that the website is easy to use, with lots of up to date menus to peruse.

 

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Walking into the restaurant we were greeted immediately by the manager & were seated near the back in a booth seat. I don’t know why a booth seat always seems better but it does so it was a positive first impression. Visually I really like the place – it is slightly dark and cosy looking. It was almost full when we went in at 7pm, with a mixture of couples, after work’ers, Christmas parties and one or two families so it was fairly loud but our booth sheltered us from that.

 

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We were deciding on wine when a helpful young waiter noticed us looking at the wine list and stopped to ask what we were eating. He then recommended the Primitivo IGT Barocco, which we went for. I thought it complimented the food so it was nice to see that he knew what he was talking about. To eat we shared some foccacia then I chose the lamb and Mr S picked the rib-eye with chips.

The rib-eye arrived medium-rare like he wanted it and it was thick so it had not dried out at all. It was on a bed of vegetables and the chips were delicious. You can choose to have a sauce with the steaks (£2.95 extra) so he went for the porcini & marsala sauce but when it arrived it tasted strongly of vanilla. I tasted it too and it had the usual sweetness that comes with marsala, I couldn’t taste porcini at all but it had an overwhelming flavour of vanilla. Fine for a dessert but definitely not a match for a steak. We got our waitresses attention and told her so she said that she would get another. When she returned with a second one it tasted exactly the same as before so we just shared my lamb sauce because he was halfway through his steak by then. My concern with the sauce is that, in my opinion, the chef should have tasted it and not sent more out. I only hope that’s not how it tastes all of the time.

 

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My lamb, on the other hand, was a strong dish. The meat was pink, the fondant potatoes were soft and the sauce was delicious. The sauce tasted of natural juices but was thicker and glossy. The lamb was resting on garlicky broad beans & tomato. All in all, it was a dish that I enjoyed.

 

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We ordered coffees and the bill and we had not been charged for the sauce, thank goodness. A manager came over & took our card payment but did not speak the whole time he was at the table – this was the only time that I did not feel like a valued customer!

 

Then we finished our wine, enjoying the surroundings. It really is a nice place to sit and I’d love to come back with my family. I’ll pop in once before that to ensure the Marsala sauce was a blip because there’s nothing worse than enjoying a meal then taking someone back and it doesn’t live up to expectations. Fingers crossed for Barolo.

 

 

 

Barolo Grill on Urbanspoon

The Tea Rooms Give Afternoon Tea A Vintage Kick

I had never had a proper afternoon tea until a few years ago but once I tried it I was hooked. I am now the proud owner of not one, but two, tiered cake stands that I really should use more often. It’s a delightfully girly activity that I tend to do when friends or family are visiting Glasgow & there are a few places here that I’d recommend but I’ll save that for another time. Last month my sister in-law was over so we went to The Tea Rooms at The Butterfly & The Pig on Bath Street. I was here for a hen night earlier in the year & we had a grand time. The Tea Rooms is about half way along Bath Street just above The Butterfly & The Pig pub. If you fancy hot food instead of sandwiches then I have also eaten downstairs and the fish cake was lovely. Both places have a quirky feel to them with lots of old mismatched furniture, crockery & decoration. Having developed a bit of a vintage look obsession in the lead up to my wedding, this suits me down to the ground. It has quite an informal feel to the place so you don’t need to dress up, which makes it perfect for a mid-shopping lunch.

 

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The building itself is very Glasgow in its tenement style and high ceilings. We were sat at the back of the room and there was a gorgeous old staircase above us with a beautiful window at the top.

 

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We went in for afternoon tea so we never even looked at the menu but, having been in before, they have a good selection of breakfast items, soups, sandwiches, savoury tart and they do high tea later on. The afternoon tea is priced at £12.50 per person or you can pay an extra £3.50 to have a glass of prosecco with it. If you want something fancier they also do it served with a glass of Moet for £20 per person. We just went for the tea option because we were chilly and wanted a nice cup of tea to warm us up. Some soft drinks were also ordered and they arrived straight away but our tea never came with them. I was freezing cold so I ended up asking for it but I think they must bring it out when your food is coming so next time I’ll ask for it when I order.

 

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Our food arrived quickly and we surveyed our feast – a mixture of sandwiches, cakes, scones, oaties and some crisps. I love the pickled cucumber that comes with it – I even made some a few days afterwards at home. Last time the oatcakes had come with smoked salmon on them but neither of us are keen on smoked salmon so we asked if we could have anything else in place of it and they gave us chicken with some chutney. They were surprisingly filling but a great start to the gluttony that is afternoon tea!

 

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We had made some changes to the sandwiches but, if I remember correctly, they usually give you a selection of coronation chicken, ham and cheese, roast beef, egg and tuna. The bread was thick and soft and the fillings were plentiful with lots of flavour & they were seasoned well.

 

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We never finished all of the sandwiches because we wanted to try the cakes before we got too full. We sliced the cakes up so that we could try a little of each. First we had blueberry scone with jam and cream – I had never tried blueberry scone but I liked it so much that I’ve been looking up recipes. The courgette and pistachio cake was moist & flavoursome and the cherry & almond slice was rich. I never tried the walnut one but Steph said it was delicious. There was a chocolate cupcake but the cake slices were definitely the winners on our table because they were so moist all the way through.

 

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Our waitress offered to box up anything that we did not eat – a welcome touch that brightened up our elevensies the next day. Even when they take you the bill they keep it in-keeping with the theme of the place.

 

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I’m looking forward to going back soon for some of that courgette cake – it’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

The Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

La Lanterna

I have a list of restaurants that I want to try in Glasgow. In fact, I have a list of places that includes restaurants that I’ve been to before that I want to write about on here that I’ve raved to my friends about. As you can imagine, there’s not a small number of places on it but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to cross one off. I love to tell people about places that I’ve enjoyed – my dad does this too & I think I’ve inherited his inability to keep information like this to myself. Out of all the restaurants in Glasgow the one that I rave about the most is La Lanterna on Hope Street. I love the place and hardly anyone my age seems to know about it so I spread the word. All the time!

It’s a cosy restaurant tucked down some stairs with old fashioned décor and white tablecloths. It’s a traditional Italian that makes their own ravioli & tiramisu instead of buying it in and closes on a Sunday. They recently won Scotland’s Best Italian Restaurant at the Scottish Entertainment awards & last year they won Best Italian Restaurant at The Glasgow Restaurant Awards so I am not the only person who has noticed how good they are. On a personal note, La Lanterna has lots of happy memories for me – many family gatherings, engagement celebrations, honeymoon choosing & anniversary dinners have taken place here.

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As soon as we sat down we were brought over our free glass of fizz that they give you if you book online via their website. We took ages looking at the menu – everything sounds nice and it is a big menu so difficult to decide. The complimentary bread and butter arrived to stave off hunger so we could take our time. Eventually we decided on starter pastas and then the chateaubriand (it costs the same as two steaks and is always to die for).

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Mr S went for the spaghetti with king prawns & lobster tail in white wine & cream sauce (£7.95). For a starter portion they were very generous with the lobster meat & prawns, and the sauce bound the dish together without being overpowering or cloying.

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I chose the venison ravioli in a red wine & rosemary jus (£7.95). Almost every time I go to La Lanterna I have ravioli of some description because it is always tasty. I can vouch for three of the ravioli flavours on the main menu too, having only missed out on the goats cheese one because I don’t eat goats cheese. There are only a few restaurants in Glasgow that I know of that make their own ravioli so I like to take advantage of it when I can. This visit was no different – perfectly cooked pasta parcels with a rich, meaty filling. Luckily I saved a piece of bread to mop up the leftover jus.

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I was so distracted by the ravioli that I forgot to take a photo at the start so apologies for the messy, part-eaten photo.

We asked Chris (the owner) about which red wine would suit the chateaubriand and he recommended the Nero Di Troia, which went perfectly. The wine list is as extensive as the menu, ranges from £14.95 to £195 a bottle and has a whopping 35 reds to choose from – the staff have always been helpful in assisting us in what to choose.

The chateaubriand arrived at the table on a big platter and is served in front of you. It comes with mushrooms, tomatoes, leaves, sauté potatoes & a generous boat of red wine and meat juice gravy. The meat was melt in the mouth and the gravy was rich – this really is a sublime dish. The sauté potatoes are crunchy but I notice that they do chunky chips and potato purée with a few other dishes so I must ask for one of them next time to try for variation.

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At this point we usually have tiramisu – it is made in house & is my favourite in Glasgow – but decided to share the cheesecake (£4.95) this time. I’m glad we did because it was creamy but fresh with the strawberries and as good as the tiramisu.

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La Lanterna will remain to be one of my Glasgow favourites for the foreseeable future and I look forward to more happy memories.

 

 

 

You might also like: girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/glasgows-italian-kitchen/

 

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Allangrange Arms – Worth The Walk

For those of you who don’t know me, I was born & bred in Inverness and my family still live there so I make regular trips up the (dreaded) A9 for visits. In some ways not living there can have its benefits. I get to go home to mum and dad’s to be looked after, I appreciate the place more & I’ve lots of people to test restaurants for me so I know where is worth a visit. Last time I was up mum had chosen a secret place for dinner & all anyone would tell was that it was out of town. I learned in the car over that we were headed to Munlochy, which is just over the Kessock Bridge and up some windy roads. It’s an area that mum discovered out walking at the nearby Ord Hill, and I saw for myself a few days later the fantastic views over Inverness.

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View from Ord Hill

If you don’t know the area then I’d make sure that you have a map or sat-nav at the ready. Once you get to Munlochy though, The Allangrange Arms is on the main road so nice & easy to find. A plus with eating out of town is the plentiful free parking which we took advantage of. There were lots of outside tables that looked perfect for summer afternoon but this certainly was not a sunny afternoon so we toddled inside. It was quiet on the Monday night that we visited but where isn’t on a Monday? Especially up Inverness way, where most people seem to save going out for the weekends (trust me, everywhere is packed on a Saturday).

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We had booked a table anyway since there was five of us and a lovely table it was. All rustic looking with some cute candles and round the corner so we weren’t eating our dinner right in the middle of the pint supping lot. This is essentially a local pub for some people & I’m sure it gets its fair share of regulars. It seems like the sort of place that Mr S and I would take advantage of regularly if we lived up that way.

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Table candles

We settled in and were given menus and offered drinks. We enquired about their ales on draft and within the selection was Happy Chappy Pale Ale from the Cromarty Brewing Co. This was the moment that I realised that I liked this place – local (tick), delicious pale ale (tick) & supporting little brewers (tick). Pale Ale is my newest alcohol love and Happy Chappy just so happens to be my favourite so far. The Allangrange also does buy one get one free cocktails Monday to Friday so we’ll try them next time.

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As for the menu, there were more specials than staples, which I was hoping was a positive thing meaning fresh & seasonal ingredients. It was a hard decision with the starters because they had mussels, langoustines and scallops. In the end my sister and I shared the pan seared West coast scallops served with a chorizo, saffron and herb risotto. The scallops were obviously fresh and the risotto packed enough punch to deliver on taste but not drown out the scallops.

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Scallops & Risotto Starter £7.95

The Cullen Skink starter was a winter warmer, thick with flavour and chunks of fish. My dad kindly let me sample some and I’d easily polish off a bowl with some crusty bread. So far so good.

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Cullen Skink £5.95

Mum went for the smoked ham hock with apple & spinach salad which was served with wholegrain mustard and Highland Crowdie sauce. It was presented well on one of those slate plates and mum ate the lot saying it was yummy.

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Ham hock salad £6.45

We ordered a bottle of red wine with the main courses as we were all having red meat. Unfortunately they did not have our first choice of Montepulciano in stock but their wine list had just been changed so that is understandable. We had a fruity Shiraz instead that was a very reasonable £15.95 a bottle.

For main course three of us ended up having the burger and two of us had the lamb shank. There was a vast selection to choose from including lobster thermidor, Cromarty brown crab, veggie curry & surf n turf but the Cullen’s all wanted the same things. The burgers were huge & consisted of a beef patty, sliced chorizo, pulled pork, bacon, cheese and onion rings all crammed into a bun. They were served with chunky chips and beetroot salad all on a long wooden board. Personally I don’t like being given these boards because there is not much room for moving things & putting sauce on the side but I was having the lamb shank and the burger fiends didn’t seem to mind too much. The burgers brought a lot of praise to the table but they were all wishing that they had swerved the starters so they had space in their bellies to finish it. The quality smoky bacon was appreciated & it’s nice that it was not just an afterthought. One out of the three of them commented that it was too wet so the bun fell apart but it maybe just needed a sturdier brioche bun.

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Burger £12.95

The lamb shank was another homemade pub grub triumph in my eyes. The tikka masala sauce was rich and flavoursome, the meat was falling off the bone & the potato chunks were crispy. It’s the ideal dish that I want to be served in somewhere like The Allangrange. My only gripe is that I would have preferred mash with it but that is just my personal preference and I still loved the dish.

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Lamb Shank £12.50

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Lyonnaise Potatoes

We were full but with my sister & I spurring each other on we had some desserts anyway. I went for the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream. Unfortunately the brownie was quite dry and more like a cake minus the icing. Brownie to me should be gooey but it just wasn’t.

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Brownie £5.50

She went for the creme brulee, which was flavoured with honey and white chocolate & served with homemade shortbread. I was dubious about the honey and white chocolate complementing each other but it was actually really nice.

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Creme brulee £5.50

The favourite of the desserts was the millionaire shortbread cheesecake (£5.50) – it was just delicious and I was tempted to order one to take home. Unusually it arrived as a pile in a bowl as opposed to in a cake slice form and it was a gooey loveliness.

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Cheesecake

You’ve probably gathered from what has been written that I liked The Allangrange Arms a lot indeed. In fact, I wish that we had a pub near us that served food as nice as they do because I find most pub food to be rather disappointing. I found the location both endearing and inconvenient – endearing as it is a gorgeous spot but inconvenient because someone has to drive. I’m looking forward to my next trip up so that we can go back and wile away a Sunday afternoon next to the fire trying out their roast dinner. For The Allangrange is no longer a secret to me, and I plan to make the most of that.