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Gather by Zique #whenITISONnailit

“… there hasn’t, until now, been [a restaurant in Glasgow’s West End] with an atmosphere, an environment, that ticks what I’ll call casual-modern fine dining… Gather By Zique finally ticks that box.” – Joanna Blythman, Sunday Herald

“Upmarket, exciting new food and one of the best Sunday roasts we’ve had – this place is a must-try.” – Glasgow Live 

“An imaginative and ever-changing menu full of surprises… Gather is a proper restaurant for cool grown-ups and we need more of them.” – Anna Burnside, Daily Record

“Eating was the equivalent of seeing in colour when you have been achromatic.” – Gaby Soutar, Scotsman

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Website: http://www.gatherbyzique.com/

Instagram: @gatherbyzique

Address: 70-72 Hyndland Street, Glasgow, G11 5PT

General Information: all visits were using an @itison voucher

Date Visited: 18/11/18, 30/11/18 & 05/01/19

Menu: https://www.gatherbyzique.com/menu-1

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I think my anticipating smile above, poised to crunch on a delicious canapé, is the perfect pictorial encapsulation to my views on Gather by Zique. I purchased the Itison voucher  (https://www.itison.com/Glasgow/deals/gather-by-zique-hyndland) due to the flexibility of the voucher’s hours of use (Wed & Thu 12noon – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm, Fri & Sat 12noon – 3pm and 5pm – 6pm, Sun 12noon – 4pm), and haven’t been disappointed whatsoever on any of my three visits. I selected the voucher that included 2 x cocktails, canapés followed by 4 small plates (or one big one and two wee ones!)

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Having bought the voucher initially to use with Jonathan, I abandoned my husband-to-be in favour of meeting a fellow Glasgow foodie on 18/11/18 – @feedingdeedee (priorities eh)? We were lucky enough to be seated at the window (photo above), which was ideal considering natural light is any foodie’s dream for photo taking! Now what is going to follow are the canapés & 4 small dishes we chose and I’ll let the photos do the talking …

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Canapés: yogurt & chilli crostini, pork rib crostini, roast squash crostini, lamb croquette and sage & anchovy fritter

Vegetarian Dishes: burrata, grilled plums, spiced hazelnuts on toasted sourdough and beetroot with goats cheese & walnuts

Meat & Seafood Dishes: peat smoked haddock croquettes, braised leeks & chorizo and crispy pigs head, potato terrine & onion puree

It was pretty quiet for the duration of our visit, which meant that we were looked after extremely well by Graham, and have been for every visit since; even when it’s busier! Always a pleasure meeting a fellow foodie for the first time, but it’s especially special when the hospitality and food is excellent.

My next visit, on 30/11/18, was during a holiday prep weekday off with Jonathan before flying out to USA the next day. I purchased another voucher whilst sitting with Deirdre,  less than two weeks earlier in the restaurant, because the food impressed me so much I knew had to come back with Jonathan (like I’d initially intended… *bad fiancé).

gather by zique glasgow food best restaurant

Of course I have another prosecco in hand; I’m finding it’s my signature drink pose on my Instagram account @laurenscravings… you’ll see what I mean! But when the voucher includs a delicious prosecco cocktail, or a non-alcoholic version of the pear & bay spritz in Jonathan’s case, you’d be silly to pass up on it. I don’t have the exact menu descriptions of the food we chose during this visit, but I’ll do my best to provide an overview (or let the photos speak for themselves).

Canapés: hummus with pomegrante on toast, partridge crostini, Jerusalem artichoke mousse with sweet potato crisp and sage & anchovy fritter

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Vegetarian Dish: butternut cappelletti with almonds & sage

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Seafood Dish: seafood bisque; mussels, langoustine & clams in broth

Meat Dishes: venison ravioli and pork belly with parsnip, apple salsa and polenta puree

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We also added an additional meat dish – the ribeye steak with roasted carrots & salsa verde, with a side of roast potatoes. The roast potatoes were slightly underwhelming; they could have been seasoned better (I asked for and added some salt) and slightly more crisp. The nduja sauce was the only addition that made them more palatable and less chalky for me, but we still left some rather than eating the full bowl.

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On this occasion, we opted for desserts, partially due to the fact that Amy of @theglasgowdiet had visited and said the desserts were her favourite part of the evening! We chose to have the chocolate fondant tart (!!!) with peanut butter ice cream and the homemade doughnuts with coffee cream.

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The chocolate fondant is one of the most decadently delightful desserts I’ve had in a long time and with the addition of the creamy nutty ice cream; it was well worth the extra few hundred calories! The doughnuts, although nice, didn’t match up when compared against the tart in my opinion, although still tasty.

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My third and final visit (or first visit of 2019), was on 05/01/19 with my friend Christine for lunch, having bought ANOTHER voucher… LOL! We followed the same drill – prosecco, pear & bay spritz cocktail, canapés and 4 x small plates to share.

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Canapés: gin cured bream with hazelnut & apple, parnip hummus crostini, caramelised onion & hazelnut and pork pate crostini

Vegetarian Dish: puy lentils, grilled broccoli, pickled chilli & feta and satsuma, mozzarella, radicchio & toasted hazelnuts

Seafood Dish: stone bass fillet, smashed Jerusalem artichoke, pancetta & sage

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Meat Dish: tagliatelle with suckling pig ragu and crispy herbs

My favourite dishes from all three visits are: the goats cheese with beetroot, ALL of the pasta dishes (they’re divine!) and the chocolate fondant tart.

I love that the menu changes so often, even although it means that I don’t get my favourite dishes the next time I visit. But this isn’t a problem, considering most of the dishes they create are always a welcome and lively party on the tastebuds.

Their desserts also change often, so although you might not get the chance to try their sticky toffee pudding sundae – there will definitely be something to entice you to fill your dessert stomach (we all have two different stomachs don’t we?!)

I hope this encourages you to pop down Hyndland Street and pop into Gather by Zique – they deserve the recognition and custom for being such a lovely restaurant and business.

Lx

Babs, Glasgow #cravingahellatastykebab

Babs Glasgow food menu

“A modern gourmet kebab house right in the heart of Glasgow City Centre. Founded and led by the hugely ambitious team behind award winning ‘Bread Meats Bread’, ‘Babs will strive to create great street food dishes that make the most of seasonal and ethical produce, while respecting kebab’s culinary Greek, Turkish and Levantine heritage. So please relax, enjoy and welcome to ‘Babs Family!”

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Website: http://babs.co.uk/

Instagram: @babsglasgow

Address: 49 W Nile St, Glasgow G1 2PT

General Information: no bookings

Date Visited: how many is too many..?

Menu: http://babs.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Babs-Menu-October-2018__.pdf

I think if you were to ask me which restaurant in Glasgow could I say I’ve pretty much tried the majority of dishes on the menu – my answer would likely be ‘Babs (or maybe Cafe Andaluz… but that’s from another younger, pre-laurencravings era). Unashamedly, I have systematically worked my way through their dishes one-by-one, although I’ve still got a few more to go, so there’s no stopping me!

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You may see ‘NYE Update‘ the throughout this blog, and the reason for that is that I’d pretty much finished it (bad photos and all) when Jonathan and I decided to go to ‘Babs for our last meal of 2018. Yep, it’s THAT good. So good that I’d spend my last evening meal within it’s pretty walls – by the skin of our teeth I may add –  last tables were are 7pm! So hopefully you’ll enjoy the ‘better’ photos I went on this NYE expedition for; instead of do it for the Vine, it was ‘do it for the blog’!

babs glasgow food menu
Previous Menu – for most up to date menu, please see link above.

Due to the significant number of visits, and subsequent difficulty in describing any specific visit in detail, I’ve decided to take a different approach in break this review down into the following sections: Dips, Starters, Mains and Service. So first up …

DIPS

We all know I love a good pitta & dip… and honestly, there is none I enjoy more than ‘Babs! Their original hummus (not currently on their Autumn menu) was good enough to rival my favourite at Paradise on Great Western Road. If you’re a fan of Nando’s red pepper dip, then be prepared to dip (lol) your head in shame for ever thinking it could rival ‘Babs version. The Kalamata olive dip, not pictured, is rich and flavoursome, whilst the Smoked Aubergine & & Dill Labneh is the only one I’ve yet to try! The photo below is from earlier on this year (clockwise from top): red pepper dip, babaganoush, hummus and same again on accompanying photo to the right.

Their babaganoush (when smooth!) is the best I’ve ever had. Whatever magic the Chef performed the day I had it – pictured below – please please PLEASE make it this way always! Too often now my babaganoush is delivered to my table ‘with stringy bits’ 😦 so I always confirm whether it’s smooth or stringy now before ordering (the waiting staff always knows what I mean; a small step for a hint on their never-ending patience with me). When smooth, I think it tops my choice for dips.

When stringy however, the new beetroot hummus is an absolute winner! When I visited with a friend a few weeks before their new menu launch, we were given the beetroot hummus as a taster – for free – before it was formally released. I was so enamoured of it that I had tried to order it again, 2 days prior to the launch, to be told it wasn’t available … oh how I cried inside! It is now a firm favourite and ordered every single time we visit. The vibrant colour is quite the show stopper isn’t it ?

My only criticism is that the product may vary… do I sound like a Terms & Conditions statement? Sometimes we’re given a drizzle of something on our pitta (seen on photo below on the left), sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes I get smooth babaganoush, but more often it’s stringy. Sometimes the sundried tomato hummus is a lighter colour, and sometimes it’s darker. And I always need to order more pitta for every dip I order, as they are so generous with the dip, but sadly not the pitta to the same extent (please don’t reduce the dip in response to this)!

NYE Update: the trio of dips is really good value and I’d always encourage you go for it, as it’s the price of 2 x individual dips. If you don’t finish them and want to take them away, they have little take-out containers for them! We go for 2 portions x sundried tomato and 1 x beetroot and I always take 1 x portion of the tomato hummus home! Also below you can see a double portion of pitta (’cause you need it!) with the drizzle tonight .. it was a good evening 🙂

STARTERS

I will admit, prior to the new menu launch, I hadn’t tried any of the starters. However, with the introduction of dishes such as: ‘Candied Beetroot’: Zaatar Candied Beetroots, goat cheese, hazelnuts, lemon & thyme and ‘Halloumi Platter’: Chargrilled halloumi & Halloumi fries served with basil tabbouleh, smoked aubergine labneh, artichokes, chilli – I couldn’t justifiably stick to only dips any longer.

The Candied Beetroot dish was always going to draw me in … anything with beetroot and goats cheese and I’m jumping excitingly inside, whilst Jonathan rolls his eyes at my predictability. You may notice however, that the dish below has feta instead of goats cheese layered above the purple and orange beetroot offering. This was due to them running out of goats cheese, without telling me, but I will address why this was ok in the Customer Service Section.

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I don’t have a photo of the halloumi platter (pity), but I do have a (bad) photo of the halloumi fries, which although are from the Sides menu section feature on the platter as well. I would recommend the platter, even to order as a plate that bridges both Starters and Mains as there’s plenty to do so. They are damn tasty halloumi fries! And the combination of a slightly spicy dip with the cooling yogurt dip is inspired.

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NYE Update: guess who ordered the Halloumi Platter just for you guys in the pursuit of a photo?! You don’t get the marinara sauce on the platter (which comes with the halloumi fries side, so I asked for a little pot, which costs 50p). I usually eat the halloumi fries as a starter and then keep the chargrilled halloumi for my main dish. The extra veg and pickles always come in handy for me, as I love the pickled purple cabbage you get with your mains, but you never get enough in my humble opinion (’cause I’m a glutton for it)! The rest can get chucked in the takeaway bag at the end, alongside your extra dip and other items (which I’ll touch on in the Customer Service Section). Obviously you’ll eat the artichokes though – YUM!

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babs glasgow halloumi platter

I’m going to mention the Lamb Doner in this section, as Jonathan orders it as a Starter, even although it is featured in the Main section of their menu. The grass-fed Lamb Doner with fresh tomatoes & onions, pickled gherkins & cabbage, topped with house-made tahini sauce & harissa chilli sauce – all wrapped in an artisan flatbread – is basically a posh doner. It hits all the same high notes as a 3am takeaway kebab, with better quality meat, all the while retaining the juicy, almost fatty, taste without being greasy.

babs glasgow food kebab

MAINS

The mains at ‘Babs have changed in many ways over the last 8-10 months; even outwith their official menu change there were a couple of changes in main dish accompaniments. Pictured below is the Hummus Chicken Shawarma as I first tried it back in April/May 2018. This version of it is what started my love affair with ‘Babs and many, many return visits to allow me to dig deep into this very colourful dish.

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Hummus Chicken Shawarma (old)

I will admit, I did prefer this original version of the dish, which came with more pickled veg and you know I love a sharp note! This is why my favourite has changed to the Lamb Shish (discussed below). But the current version of the Hummus Chicken Shawarma is a fixture on Jonathan’s favourite list. But then again, he did try a bite of my most recent Lamb Shish and make a statement that that would be his choice from now on also.

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Hummus Chicken Shawarma

In case you don’t already know, my fiance – Jonathan, is a fairly large boy who generally needs to consume between 4000-5000 calories a day. If only we were all so lucky eh?! As such, he usually gets two main dishes when we’re there (yes, that’s even after the Lamb Doner as a starter). His second dish is usually Lamb Iskender: “chargrilled & thinly sliced lamb leg fillet, on a bed of grilled pita dipped in spiced marinara, garlic yogurt, green Turkish chilli and mint oil” – as seen below.

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Lamb Iskender

If you’re looking for a more ‘simple’ chicken dish; treated with such respect that the succulent juiciness of the meat jumps off that plate at you, then the Chicken Shish: “free range chicken skewers, sweet pepper puree, garlic yogurt, green Turkish chilli and house pickles” could be the one for you. However, it doesn’t have the same punchy myriad of flavours that the other dishes seem to embody so well, so I only tried it once.

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Chicken Shish

Not the best of photos, but the only one I have of my favourite main dish Lamb Shish: “free range lamb leg fillet skewers, sweet pepper puree, tzatziki, green Turkish chilli and house pickles”, which is at the bottom of the photo below (beneath a more recent iteration of the Hummus Chicken Shawarma). An inspired move of mine however, is swapping out the tzatziki for the sundried tomato hummus; as I’m not the biggest fan of cucumber so it just makes everything better! Again with the cute little green drizzle on the pitta – you should keep this coming, it’s tasty :-p

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NYE Update: I ordered the Lamb Shish, cooked medium, with the sundried tomato hummus and have included a photo below. Funnily enough, I usually scoop most of my hummus off the plate and add it to my ‘take-home’ pile from the 3 x dip starter. I then add some of the yogurt, extra veg and tabbouleh from the Halloumi Platter dish onto the plate and viola, you have my perfect dish! Everything they plate up is tremendous, so I like to mix and match with the flavour combinations – maybe I’ll invent the new Lamb Shish dish for the next menu re-vamp, who knows ! I also usually eat 1 x skewer from this dish as my main (due to the plethora of starters that already adorn the table at that point…) and put the other aside to take home for tomorrow’s lunch.

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Customer Service

There’s been numerous small things that have added up to the overall great feeling of  waiting staff attentiveness and genuine care when serving customers in ‘Babs. To quote Simon Sinek:

““This is why she fell in love with you. I can’t tell you exactly what day. It was no particular thing you did. It was the accumulation of all of those little things that she woke up one day as if she pressed a button, she goes, ‘I love him.’ The same with the relationship. It’s not about the events. It’s not about intensity. It’s about consistency.”

Much like falling in love: with a person, a restaurant, a place, a menu or one singular dish; it’s each and every little element of your experience, in relation to that thing, that defines your level of emotion when describing it to another person. Considering the amount of times I go though, I do find it a little sad that they act no different each time they greet me; so it doesn’t quite match up to the likes of Partick Duck Club (where I’ve probably been less times, but who greet me with warmth by name). The food in ‘Bab’s is what raises it to the heights of splendour, but there have been specific moments where I’ve been really impressed with the customer service in ‘Babs.

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Doner Fries (side dish)

As mentioned above, I was offered the opportunity to try the beetroot hummus for free before the official menu relaunch. It’s likely they were doing this with a lot of people, but it’s a nice idea and made my friend and I feel great – plus it was delicious!

When I ordered the candied beetroot and goats cheese starter, but was presented with feta instead the waitress took it off our bill. She could see how gutted I was that it wasn’t goats cheese, and although she offered to get me something else I hate waste so I ate it. We found out at the end that she’d removed it; thoughtful and not really necessary – but a decent thing to do. I will order it again sometime when I know there is goats cheese!

babs glasgow food menu

My next example of lovely customer service comes during a late night visit. We’d just been to @madformozza for pizza, and I decided we were just far too close to ‘Babs (a mere block away) to NOT stop by to grab a couple of dips for dessert. I’ve never hidden the fact I’m more savoury than sweet, so for that reason I’m not going to justify going for dips at another restaurant for dessert. It isn’t ridiculous. No matter what Jonathan said at the time. We had ordered the beetroot hummus & babaganoush, she delivered the sundried tomato hummus & babaganoush … so we ended up with all three (after popping back for the beetroot hummus and more pitta) as she advised the kitchen was close to shutting and it’d be going to waste anyway. Made my night !

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Now you may think from the abundance of food pictures above that I must order A LOT when I go to ‘Bab’s… and you’d be right, but it’s a strategic move! You see, they have takeaway boxes placed strategically above the pass (I like this, as it means you know you can ask for food to takeaway after). So when I order in ‘Bab’s, I always order with my lunch the next day in mind too. That leftover extra dip from the 3 x dip platter? The extra veg, yogurt, tabbouleh from the Halloumi Platter? That spare skewer from my Lamb Shish? They all work together nicely for a lovely lunch the following day, which only means that ‘Babs spreads it’s flavoursome love far and wide across my life, outwith the 1.5 hours I spend in there.

So here’s to another year, and many more visits to one of my favourite restaurants in Glasgow!

Lx

 

Recipe #1: Bacon, Mushroom & Truffle Cream Pasta

Bacon, Mushroom & Truffle Cream Pasta

Ingredients

75g salted butter

4 x rashers smoked bacon (chopped)

2 x finely diced shallots

3 x finely diced cloves garlic

50 – 80g Saint Agur soft blue cheese

1/2 x tub button mushrooms (quartered)

1/2 x tub chestnut mushrooms (finely sliced)

50ml double cream

1 x tsp truffle purée – bought at Borough Market in London (£14 for 50g, or £24 for 90g) – or I’ve found something similar you can purchase on Amazon – link at bottom of recipe

1 x tsp white parmesan ‘cream’ (can be substituted for 50 – 100g fresh parmesan), however you can find this jar or similar in T K Maxx home section

150g pasta … maybe… I always cook too much LOL

truffle puree and parmesan cream

Method

1. Add butter, bacon and shallots to pan of medium heat and allow to cook until you start seeing some caramelisation on the shallots (can take up to 10mins)

2. Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook as per packet instruction for al dente (as it will soften further when you toss through hot sauce)

3. Add the garlic and cook off for another few minutes, but not too long as garlic burns quite easily

4. Add blue cheese into the pan, take the pan off the heat and allow it to melt, taste and add more if you want later if you want – dependant on your preferences

5. Reduce heat and place pan back on job. Add in mixed mushrooms and toss in mixture to ensure they’re fully coated (add a dash of water if needed, although the mushrooms release water when cooking I usually do this) until they’re softened and size has reduced significantly

6. Add double cream and teaspoons of truffle purée & white parmesan ‘cream’ (or fresh parmesan)

7. Increase to medium heat again and allow to reduce down until it’s reached desired consistency

8. When this has reduced, sieve water off cooked pasta (retaining some of the water to add into the sauce if required) and add to the sauce – toss until it coats all of the pasta

9. If you feel it needs some more moisture, add a dash of the water you cooked your pasta in

Please tag me in photos, stories etc. if you make it 🙂

Enjoy ! Lx

Links to Truffle Purée (or similar):

Most similar, although slightly expensive:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004MB3ESS/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B004MB3ESS&pd_rd_w=cbRIK&pf_rd_p=8e5be0e3-b258-4b06-8b6e-695b24f935a4&pd_rd_wg=CfgLJ&pf_rd_r=3HGJ7P9M57G86HKEXKTP&pd_rd_r=f43b4e56-0cfc-11e9-a0e7-b779efb91800

Similar enough, but more affordable:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/truffle-magnatum-Italian-specialty-Truffles/dp/B0746J7ZF6/ref=pd_sbs_325_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0746J7ZF6&pd_rd_r=f9d63e13-0cfc-11e9-9526-c700fc7563af&pd_rd_w=5wfOr&pd_rd_wg=pc2a3&pf_rd_p=18edf98b-139a-41ee-bb40-d725dd59d1d3&pf_rd_r=P8M99WJ5Y76BGJEJ2C3X&psc=1&refRID=P8M99WJ5Y76BGJEJ2C3X

Scran, Alexandra Parade #cravingselloutspecials

“Good cheap scran”

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Website: http://www.scranglasgow.co.uk/

Instagram: @scrangla

Address: 594 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow G31 3BS

General Information: Tues – Sat 9am – 4pm,  Sun 9am – 3pm (no bookings)

Date Visited: 25/11/18

I have a mental list of brunch spots I’d like to visit in our fair city and this list grows ever longer, without end, due to a few factors. One is that the brunch scene in Glasgow has exploded to rival that of our Australian counterparts, which raced ahead of us a few years back in #brunchappreciation. Secondly, whether I like it or not, I tend to gravitate back to the same spots (Singl-End, Partick Duck Club, Potluck), simply ’cause you know what you’re getting and it’s easy to lean on those you love rather than risk it all on something new. However, much like with our romantic lives, Instagram now serves as a veritable foodie Tinder (even moreso since the app re-styling), meaning new options and choices are in your face every single day.

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It’s a strong person who can ignore the pretty pottery and plant adorned tables with natural light streaming in from high ceiling windows to caress the beautifully plated food at these ever-increasing establishments. So much so, that with the passage of time you are generally worn down into thinking ‘once won’t hurt’ … although please don’t apply this same methodology to your love life. My purpose today is to convince you to take that leap out of the brunch-o-topia of Glasgow Southside… and enter new territory in the East End’s Alexandra Parade.

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In an unlikely turn of events, Scran doesn’t seem to have broken into the foodie mainstream of #brunchgoals quite yet; at least not to the level it certainly deserves. And this is why I’ve decided to break my blog-brain-block of recent weeks with a blog post dedicated to the numerous reasons why it needs to move it’s way up (preferably to the top) of your ‘to – go’ list. Their window stencils alone (with a special festive pattern over December) should be enough to draw you along, in addition to the fact parking isn’t usually an issue – BONUS!

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My friend, Simone, was visiting from London and I had given her various options of where to go for Sunday brunch – and Scran was her choice. I’d seen it featured on @chriseatsglasgow Instagram before too, so her selection meant we took the dive into ‘trying something new’ with readiness and abandon. It’s a tiny wee place, with about 12 – 14 seats approx. and it doesn’t take bookings, so be prepared to wait. As we waited for our table, there were numerous people coming and going for items from their takeaway menu, which was displayed on the shelf just on the left hand side as you enter the cafe.

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I seem to have wonderful luck when it comes to being seated anywhere for the first time;  as when we were offered the high stools by the window with great lighting I leaped up into them with childish delight. The menu is simple, but all the better for it; Jonathan says that the phrase ‘simple but effective’ is overused, but I can confidently say it hits the mark when used in Scran terms. Not considering the fact that their specials board reigns supreme in the foodie world (in my opinion at least).

scran glasgow menu

Sadly however, their special was all sold out by the time we arrived around 11am, so I didn’t even ask what it had been for fear of regretful FOMO. Featured on their specials menu in recent months has been dishes such as: Arran Eggs Special (Arran black pudding, haggis and mustard on sourdough topped with poached eggs, hollandaise and finished off with a side of clapshot and bacon crumb); Crab & Avocado Special (crab and avocado on toasted sourdough with lemon, chilli, courgettes, poached eggs and hollandaise); Roast Beef Special (roast beef, potatoes, cauli flower cheese and spinach with poached eggs) and Smoked Ham Special (smoked ham, duck eggs, sweet potato mash, pineapple fritters and sriracha).

scran glasgow

We ordered the Poached Eggs Stornoway, Crushed Avocado on Toast, Crispy Halloumi Scran Fries and a side of potato scone for Simone with a coffee each (oat milk for Simone and you other non-diary drinkers out there)! Unbeknownst to us, the cafe had a power cut for a short duration whilst we were in, hence why our breakfast took a little longer than expected to arrive. However, due to my long-winded catch up with Simone over coffee, we hadn’t really noticed too much. The waitress came over and offered us another coffee on the house, due to the wait, which we thoroughly appreciated and was very well received (good customer service!)

scran glasgow eggs stornoway

When the food arrived, we dug in with fervour (momentarily appreciating the food through the lens of my Nikon like all typical foodies do). The bacon crumb on the Poached Eggs Stornoway offered a splash of contrast to the hollandaise yellow, the avocado was nicely seasoned atop it’s toasted sourdough and the potato scones the perfect combination of soft and crisp.

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What (pleasantly) surprised me, most of all, were the Scran Fries with halloumi, spicy sauce and crispy onions loaded on top of a bowl of hot fries – absolutely delicious ! Chris (@glasgochris – the Head Chef) was generous with his toppings; meaning that even when we reached the bottom of the bowl there was still chunks of halloumi dripping in sauce and onions to scoop up alongside your fries.

scran glasgow fries

We spent a good two hours just sitting at the window, watching the world go by and enjoying our ‘good cheap scran’ as that’s the very essence of what it was. The total bill came in at under £20, which is unheard of these days for such good quality grub, and only further makes this independent cafe in the East End worth a visit.

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It deserves a spot alongside its Southside sisters of mentionable top brunch spots to visit in Glasgow, if only to ensure us over here on the East-side (with other spots such as Tibo, Coia’s, Pizza East etc.) demonstrate that we know what we’re talking about when it comes to good food too ! So from an East End gal to an East End cafe – keep doing what you’re doing! And you’ll inevitably need to move to a bigger space to accommodate the flocking foodies looking for something new on their palate !

glasgow scran menu food

Lx

 

Christmas Activities in Glasgow 2018 #cravingfestivecheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year !

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So many people are quick to jump to the negatives aspects of the Christmas season; the weather is too cold, the songs start too early or the days are getting too dark. I wanted to write this blog in advance of December to provide some inspiration and ideas on the sheer magnitude of things to do we have available to us right here in Glasgow in the festive season. Genuinely, I started to gather ideas for all the events, markets, shows, restaurants, activities and spots to visit and it could have went on and on (I probably could have reached 100!), but I’ve curbed it down for you lucky lot. The Christmas ‘spirit’ is all about the attitude you’re bringing into the holiday period; if you throw yourself into the lively buzz that surrounds the city for weeks leading up to Christmas, the dark and wet days will fade into the background.

December is almost upon us and it’s my favourite time of year, possibly partly because it’s my birthday on 2nd December so that serves to launch me straight into the season from the start. Let me take you on a whirlwind tour around what I like to get up to in Glasgow during the festive period.

First of all, buy an advent calendar from Hotel Chocolat !

https://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/christmas/advent-calendars/

Address: Hotel Chocolat, 42 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 3JX

hotel chocolat

Their chocolate is all unbelievably good, whether you fancy white, milk, dark or fruit & nut! If you want to browse what is on offer, they have a high street store on Buchanan St in Glasgow City Centre. They have an excellent off of 3 x packs of chocolate (6 x small chocs) for £10, which make great stocking fillers if you need a little something extra to throw into someone’s present.

Book yourself and some friends to go see a pantomime!

https://www.paviliontheatre.co.uk/shows/the-magical-adventures-of-cinderella/

https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/kings-theatre/

You don’t have to be a kid or have kids in tow to justify going to see a panto! One of the best things I have done in recent years is go to see one as an adult and enjoy the jovial and lighthearted comedy for what it is – fun. They are showing Cinderella at the Pavilion Theatre and Aladdin at the Kings Theatre. Book yourself a ticket and laugh until your belly hurts with everyone else.

Go see a Festive Film at the GFT!

https://glasgowfilm.org/shows/christmas-at-gft

it's a wonderful life

My family have an annual tradition of going to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ every year on Christmas Eve. It makes me cry – every. single. time. Christmas ultimately is about family, so celerating it by spending time with loved ones watching an old family favourite film in the cinema is special. If a black and white movie isn’t your thing, they are also showing: White Christmas, The Mupper Christmas Carol, Die Hard, Elf, Frozen, Jingle All The Way and a few more. So cosy up with some popcorn and snacks in a room full of people just waiting to feel the Christmas joy alongside you!

Visit the Christmas Markets!

https://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com/whats-on/Pages/Glasgow-Christmas-Markets.aspx

St Enoch Square Christmas Market
Fri 9 Nov – Sun 23 Dec
Mon – Wed, 10am – 9pm
Thu – Sun, 10am – 10pm (finish at 6pm on Sun 23 Dec)

George Square Christmas Market
Sun 25 Nov – Mon 31 Dec
Mon – Wed, 10am – 9pm
Thu – Sun, 10am – 10pm (finish at 6pm on Mon 24 & Sun 31 Dec)

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Market stalls with gift ideas for family and friends, mulled wine or hot chocolate, the big wheel, hella tasty market food or simply to absorb the buzzing atmosphere – the 2018 Christmas markets at George Square or St Enoch centre have lots to keep you occupied. I always make a point to organise a get together at the weekend with friends to visit and enjoy – you should too!

Go for a festive themed Afternoon Tea!

https://cuptearooms.co.uk/festive

https://cuptearooms.co.uk/s/Festive-Brochure-2018-19-Web-Version.pdf

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Cup Menu

Now afternoon tea is good … but festive afternoon tea? Even better! If you fancy treated a loved one to a festive season outing, why not pop into Cup – Glasgow and indulge both your sweet and savoury tooth at the same time ! Plus it includes an actual drink – go on!

Make mulled wine !

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/jamie-s-mulled-wine/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/69604/sloe-mulled-wine-

mulled wine

It’s a party pleaser! And perfect for a cosy winter night in with your loved one, or even as a punch bowl offering at a party. It’s really simple and easy to make, and a benefit of making it yourself is you don’t need a Yankee candle to scent your house, as your home brewing will do that for you.

Get A Tunnock’s festive box!

http://www.tunnock.co.uk/

Address: 43 Main St, Uddingston, Glasgow G71 7HH

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Is there anything more Scottish than Tunnock’s? Forgive my Dad… I swear any time a camera comes within a metre radius of him he shuts his eyes! But this is to show you the size of the Tunnock’s festive box. It’s hard to find information online, but if you pop into the Tunnock’s Tea Room in Uddingston, you’ll be able to purchase them there. I’d get down early in the morning, as they sell out fast! My Gran absolutely loves them, as I get her one every Christmas.

Make a cheeseboard with cheese from George Mews & have a Games Night!

https://www.georgemewescheese.co.uk/

Address: 106 Byers Road, Glasgow, G12 8TB

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I bloody adore cheese (as we all know), so when we started a family tradition a few years ago of a cheese-fuelled games night I couldn’t have been happier. Cheese, chutneys, crackers, bread, fruit, nuts, dates, quince and honey galore! You’ll never run out of an option for everyone when shopping at George Mews. My games recommendations would be Monopoly, Cluedo or Trivial Pursuit – all basic bitch games but I’m easily pleased.

Hop Aboard the Red Bus Bistro for a Christmas Meal!

https://www.redbusbistro.co.uk/bus-tour/glasgow-tours/glasgow-christmas-tour/

red bus bistro

Similar to the Bustronome dining idea in London, the Red Bus Bistro in both Glasgow and Edinburgh feeds you some tasty grub whilst transporting you around the city to admire the sights. If you fancy taking in the scenery in a festive themed dining experience, then this could be something different to try.

Visit the Merchant Square Christmas Craft Fair!

http://www.merchantsquareglasgow.com/news-article/christmascraftfair

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“Are you looking to get away from the city centre crowds, buy all of your Christmas gifts under one roof, support local artisans and still have time left for dinner and drinks? Then look no further than Merchant Square’s Christmas Craft Fair! From noon until 6pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December, and daily from Monday 21st until Christmas Eve, Merchant Square will fill up with over fifty local crafters, designers, specialists and artists. Find the perfect gift for your loved ones at our Christmas Craft Fair – a one-stop shop for all your Christmas needs!” *excerpt taken from website

Escape from ‘CHRISTMAS CHAOS’ Escape Room!

https://www.catch22rooms.com/rooms

https://www.itison.com/Glasgow/deals/escape-game-city-centre

Address: 144 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5LQ

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My friend had purchased the Itison voucher for Catch 22 Escape Rooms and we completed (but didn’t escape…) the Notorious room. The hosts were absolutely lovely and there was even a mascot dog called Stan. I’ve already bought another voucher so I can go in December to do their Christmas themed room; such a good idea for a family outing!

Visit Japanese Cafe Okashi!

https://www.instagram.com/okashicafe/

okashiPhoto Credit to Janie of @glasgowplatesandplaces

The glorious little creation is the frosted mocha with a candy floss Christmas tree – how pretty. Janie says “The cafe was super cute, they have their menu written in chalk on the blackboard wall which I thought was a cool touch. And I’m a sucker for anything marble print so loved the tables. Everything was pink & covered in flowers it was honestly like walking into my dream room.”

Visit Ox & Finch’s Pop-Up at SWG3 Acid Bar!

https://www.oxandfinch.com/festive-dining-at-acid-bar

ox and finch glasgow good food best restaurant top

I love Ox & Finch ! So knowing they’re doing a Christmas themed pop-up is exciting. They nail flavour combinations with an abundance of textures, so I know they’ll take your palate on a journey of festive delight. Just check out the menu, accessed via the link above, it looks fantastic!

Go for a Sing-Along at Glasgow Concert Hall!

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Whether you like classic, fun, jazz or otherwise – the range of shows that are on at Glasgow concert hall in December is fantastic – one of my favourites would have to be the film ‘Love Actually’ played alongside a live orchestra! But click the link above to see all that’s on offer over the next few weeks.

Go to the Irn Bru Carnival!

http://www.irn-bru-carnival.com/

irn bru

Roller coasters, waltzers, game stalls and enough food and drink to sink a ship; the Irn Bru Carnival is a Glasgow institution named after our glorious orange nectar (drink). Fun with your other half, family or a bunch of friends – who doesn’t love a little thrill now and again?!

Find Hidden Christmas in the Hidden Lane!

http://www.thehiddenlaneglasgow.com/hidden-christmas/

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Need some Christmas present inspiration whilst maintaining a sense of mystery? Looks for arts, crafts, clothing, jewellery, candle or music and homewares not off the High Street? The pop into the Hidden Lane locations below for lots of gift ideas!

The Hidden Lane
1103 Argyle Street
Finnieston
Glasgow G3 8ND
(between Sandyford Flowers/Harvey’s and GG Brother Liquor/Greggs)
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The Hidden Lane Gallery
1081 Argyle Street
Finnieston
Glasgow G3 8LZ
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Studios above the Gallery
1079 Argyle Street
Finnieston
Glasgow G3 8LZ
(white door between the Tesco ATM and the Hidden Lane Gallery – appointment only)
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The Hive
1061 Argyle Street
Finnieston
Glasgow G3
(set back from the street, to the left of Pan e Vino and Tesco)

And it wouldn’t be me without a nod to food, so I’ve found a handy link in the ‘People Make Glasgow’ website that break various options down into areas within Glasgow and provides information on Christmas menus and costs etc. Enjoy!

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/glasgow-christmas-dining-guide

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Now I’m off to give Jonathan his advent calendar … from Hotel Chocolat of course!

Merry Christmas to you all ! Lauren x

Worth Travelling To: Restaurants That Bloggers Would Plan A Day Around #foodiedaytrip

Looking for somewhere to go on a day trip ? The feature blog will provide you with places to go, places to eat and things to do in Crieff, Blair Atholl, St Andrews, Gleneagles, Bothwell, Hamilton

I sometimes find myself at a loose end at the weekend and craving some adventure outwith the confines of our glorious Glasgow. When this happens, I find myself wondering where to go and what to do; meaning you can spend a few hours deliberating, which eats into your day… and you inevitably decide not to bother going anywhere after all. This blog idea was born to provide inspiration on these days – you can look at the options we’ve all pulled together below, obviously centered around food, to remove those wasted hours of brainstorming. We’re taking the hassle out of your weekend… so what are you waiting for?! Go explore!

explore scotland travel laurenscravings food things to do

I reached out to some of my fellow bloggers for this post, as I knew there would be a few hidden gems out there that I hadn’t heard of before. So I’ve tagged their Instagram pages, the restaurant’s Instagram page (if they have one), with some other hopefully useful information: a brief overview of the location, others things to do and see (make a day of it!) and some other restaurants nearby that I’ve either been to or heard of that may be worth checking out too.

I’ve included travel time both from Glasgow and Edinburgh, in the hopes that that makes some of your decisions easier. I have plenty of suggestions for further afield as well, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve kept it within a 1.5 – 2 hour max. travel time, simply because I wanted to provide options for somewhere you can visit in a day.

where to go

I’ve already written a blog on my suggestion (’cause I’m self-confessed Gleneagles No. 1 fan), so I’ll mention that first and then launch into the others…


Gleneagles

“When it first opened its doors in 1924, this magnificent countryside estate in the heart of Scotland was described as a “Riviera in the Highlands”. Today, as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Gleneagles continues to offer an unbeatable array of attractions that includes a five-star luxury hotel, three championship golf courses, an award-winning spa, and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars.”

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Lauren of @laurenscravings

Gleneagles @thegleneagleshotel

Website: https://www.gleneagles.com/

Address: The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF

Travel: 50 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 10 mins from Edinburgh

Lauren Explains Why: in her blog post here

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Things to Do at Gleneagles: Golf, Tennis, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Archery, 4×4 Driving and ESPA spa (the best spa I’ve ever been to – treat yourself to a day pass!)

Other restaurants you could visit within the grounds: The Birnam Brasserie, Andrew Fairlie (2 Michelin Star), The Dormy – Clubhouse


St Andrews

“St. Andrews is a seaside town northeast of Edinburgh, on Scotland’s east coast. It’s known for its many golf courses, including the Old Course, with the landmark Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole. The British Golf Museum chronicles the history of U.K. golf. On a headland nearby are the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon. Close to the castle is the University of St. Andrews, founded in 1413.”

st andrews things to do pier sunset

Natalie of @stravaiginscotland

Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar @tailendstandrews

Website: https://www.thetailend.co.uk  

Address: 130 Market St, St Andrews KY16 9PD

Travel: 1 hr 35 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

Natalie Explains Why: “People often think of golf when they think of St. Andrews; or the castle or the university. Now these are all good things and are absolutely worth checking out if you are in town.  The one thing you don’t often hear about is the variety of restaurants in St. Andrews.  There is something here for every taste, mood and budget, but one eatery that is worth travelling for and should be on everyone’s list is the Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar on Market Street.

The seafood in town is always local, and some of the best you will find in Scotland.  Part of the appeal is that these guys know how to cook it well.  The menu has a nice variety but is not too large or complicated. Nice seafood flavors, but also some non-seafood options, as well as gluten free options.  The fish and chips are some of the best you will find, and the cranachan cheesecake is a deeply memorable experience.

The other thing about this place is that the drink selection is as good as the seafood selection.  Some very imaginative cocktails, and a great selection of Scottish whisky, gin and beer for you to choose from as well.  The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful with recommendations if you aren’t quite sure what to try.  Once you have finished your meal and had a nice drink, you have to leave room for dessert.  There are no words to describe their cranachan cheesecake; at least none I can think of that do it justice.

You can get take out or you can choose to eat in, but if you are eating in you better make a reservation as this place is usually packed.  Put it on your list of places worth travelling to in St. Andrews.”

Things to Do in St Andrews: St Andrews Cathedral (12th century ruin), St Andrews Castle  (13th century ruin), golf courses, seafront and pier, Botanic Gardens, British Golf Museum & 15 mins drive outside of St Andrews is Scotland’s Secret Bunker

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Peat Inn (Michelin star), The Vine Leaf, Blackhorn, The Jigger Inn or The Grange


Kelso

“Kelso is a market town in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Within the boundaries of the historic county of Roxburghshire, it lies where the rivers Tweed and Teviot have their confluence. The town has a population of 5,639 according to the 2011 census and based on the 2010 definition of the locality.”

kelso castle visit scotland food things to do scottish borders

The Wee Food Blogger of @the_wee_food_blogger

Cobbles @cobbleskelso

Website: http://www.thecobbleskelso.co.uk/

Address: 7 Bowmont Street, Kelso TD5 7JH, Scotland

Travel: 1 hr 40 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 5 mins from Edinburgh

The Wee Food Blogger Explains Why: “There is a world beyond the big cities and sometimes you find those hidden gems that are worth travelling to! Perhaps better known as the home of popular craft beer brand Tempest Brewing Co. the Cobbles in Kelso serves up the food to match its award-winning beer.

A hearty gastropub set in the quaint Scottish Borders town of Kelso, the cobbled square of the town centre lends its name to the pub with a foodie heart. Serving up pub classics, sometimes with a twist, but always fresh and always local, the Cobbles is certainly worth travelling to. Favourites such as fish and chips, served with a homemade curry sauce and steak and ale pie with seasonal vegetables feature on this menu. Perfect winter warmers in a cosy homely pub setting.

It’s dog friendly in the bar too – so your four legged friend can enjoy their hospitality while you enjoy your pub grub and a locally made pint!”

Things to Do in Kelso: Floors Castle, Roxburgh Castle & Hume Castle

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Contented Vine & The Waggon Inn


Crieff

“Crieff is a market town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It lies on the A85 road between Perth and Crianlarich, and the A822 between Greenloaning and Aberfeldy. The A822 joins the A823, which leads to Dunfermline. Crieff has become a hub for tourism, famous for its whisky and history of cattle droving.”

crieff hydro things to do places to eat scotland travel

Savannah of @savannahsweeney

Yann’s at Gleanearn House, Crieff

Website: http://www.yannsatglenearnhouse.com/

Address: Perth Rd, Crieff PH7 3EQ

Travel: 1 hr mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 20 mins from Edinburgh

Savannah Explains Why: “Yann’s is located in the small town of Crieff, making it about an hours drive from Glasgow. Serving authentic French food, the family run restaurant is warm and welcoming in the old Victorian house. Prior to your meal, you have the opportunity to have a drink in the comforting lounge which is decorated in a warm and welcoming manner. Following on through to the restaurant area, it is snug and relaxed in a bistro-style. What makes Yann’s worth travelling that bit outside Glasgow for is not only the exceptional food and friendly service you will receive but the ambient setting inside the Victorian house, it changes the dining experience and is a welcomed change from a standard restaurant/bar area.

Now onto the food, Yannick the chef makes a variety of French classics alongside some specialties from his home region within France. A standout feature of the menu has to be the ‘La pierrade’ (a roasting slate where you cook your choices of meat alongside sauces, salad and fries) and ‘La raclette’ (melting cheese, accompanied by cured meats and potatoes). Make sure you leave room for dessert, the crème brûlée is one of the best around.

Alongside the restaurant, Glenearn house has rooms if you don’t fancy the drive home after dinner so you can extend your stay and explore the picturesque town of Crieff whilst you are there.”

Things to Do in Crieff: Drummond Castle, The Strathern Gallery, Monzie Castle, Macrosty Park, Innerpeffray Library (the first lending library in Scotland) and Crieff Hydro – for all your spa, tennis and luxury accomodation needs!

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Delivino, The Lounge, The Crieff Food Co. and Crieff Hydro – Meikle Restaurant


Muthill, Perthshire

“Muthill, is a village in Perth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland. It lies just west of the former railway line connecting Gleneagles and Crieff, 3 miles south of Crieff. The line closed between the two points on 6/7/1964. The name possibly derives from Moot hill, a place of judgement.”

muthill old church perthshire scotland

Mel of @melsalwayshungry

Barley Bree

Website: http://barleybree.com/

Address: 6 Willoughby St, Crieff PH5 2AB

Travel: 55 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 15 mins from Edinburgh

Mel Explains Why:When I think of French cuisine, I think of family days out. My parents love French food and whenever I see them we always end up at a Hotel Du Vin or Cote Brasserie (this makes my parents sound very fancy but they just like what they like, especially if there’s a voucher involved!).

So when I found out that there was a restaurant that served french food on a daily changing menu by a real french chef, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make the journey for both the food and the fuzzy feeling that comes with such dining experiences for me.

Situated in the wee village of Muthill, less than an hour from Glasgow, sits the cosy family run Barley Bree hotel and restaurant. From time to time my better half and I visit family in nearby Crieff and its easy to see why they and many others are fond of both the eatery and its owners.  I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Patron Fabrice Bouteloup when we dined a few months ago, a passionate cook who alongside his partner Alison is so friendly it was like visiting an old friend for dinner. One item that never leaves the menu and is worth making the journey just for this alone, is the Apple Tarte Tartin, which I DEMAND you try!

NOTE: Things to Do & other Places to Eat are as per Crieff post above.


Lochearnhead / Callander

“Lochearnhead is a village on the A84 Stirling to Crianlarich road at the foot of Glen Ogle, 14 miles north of the Highland Boundary Fault. It is situated at the western end of Loch Earn where the A85 road from Crieff meets the A84.”

“Callander is a small town in the council area of Stirling, Scotland, situated on the River Teith. The town is located in the historic county of Perthshire and is a popular tourist stop to and from the Highlands.”

callander places to go places to eat things to do mhor 84 food

Rebecca of @rebeccacooks_

MHOR 84

Website: http://mhor84.net/

Address: 84 Kingshouse, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead FK19 8NY

Travel: 1 hr 10 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 35 mins from Edinburgh

Rebecca Explains Why: “Located at the side of the A84, popular route north to Glencoe; MHOR 84 is a wee gem you won’t want to miss. Part of the well-established and popular MHOR brand (boutique hotel Monachlye MHOR, MHOR Bread and MHOR Fish); MHOR 84 is the perfect pit stop between the central belt and the Highlands. An hour’s drive from Glasgow and conveniently situated on both the Rob Roy Way and the National Cycle Route 7, MHOR 84 is a haven for both cyclists and walkers looking to refuel after a day exploring the nearby hillsides, lochs and glens.

The family run business comprises Tom Lewis and his wife Lisa May, Tom’s brother Dick and Dick’s wife Mhairi Taylor of ‘Cafezique’ and new kid on the block ‘Gather by Zique’ in the West End of Glasgow. They’ve turned the former Kingshouse Hotel into an effortlessly chic and affordable motel encompassing a café, bar and restaurant for families, cyclists, tourists and walkers alike.

The menu has a strong emphasis on good quality Scottish produce with a lot of the produce sourced from the family farm at Monachlye MHOR. Full cooked breakfasts, the most delicious eggs benedict served with their own sourdough and Illy coffee are the best way to fuel up before walking along the single track road to Rob Roy’s Grave in Balquhidder. An Instagram worthy array of freshly baked cakes and pastries are delivered fresh every morning from sister bakery ‘MHOR Bread’ – be sure not to miss out on one of the famous meringues! Stop in for lunch between 12-5pm for homemade soups, show stopper sandwiches, ‘Gareth’s’ burger and my hands down favourite seafood chowder. Ever changing daily specials showcasing fresh Scottish fish and locally sourced meat are added to the menu from 12-9pm.

The cosy and relaxed bar has a well curated selection of wines, craft beers and plenty of malt whiskeys to work your way through whilst sitting beside the wood burning stove. Every Thursday the bar area is host to “Thank Folk It’s Thursday,” a weekly folk jam session which welcomes a lively group of local musicians brandishing an assortment of traditional Scottish instruments. The Scottish music session often features Ewan MacPherson of Shooglenifty – a night not to be missed!

MHOR 84 holds a special place in my heart; I was lucky to spend several summer seasons working between MHOR 84 and Monachlye MHOR. It was evident whilst living on site and working with some of the biggest characters from all corners of the world that the success of the powerhouse team behind the MHOR brand lies in their absolute passion for all that they do.”

Things to Do in Lochernhead/Callander: Bracklinn Falls, Loch Lubnaig, Hamilton Toy Collection, Stùc a’ Chroin (mountain), Samson’s Stone & Go Ape Aberfoyle

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Mhor Fish, The Old Bank RestaurantPuddingstone Place, Poppie’s HotelThe Golden Larches Restaurant


Blair Atholl

“Blair Atholl is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built about the confluence of the Rivers Tilt and Garry in one of the few areas of flat land in the midst of the Grampian Mountains. The Gaelic place-name Blair, from blàr, ‘field, plain’, refers to this location.”

blair atholl the loft castle food things to do

Claire of @what_claire_didwww.whatclairedid.com

The Loft, Blair Atholl

Website: http://loftblairatholl.homestead.com/

Address: Invertilt Rd, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry PH18 5TE

Travel: 1 hr 40 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

Claire Explains Why: When the lovely Lauren from Lauren’s Cravings asked me to think about somewhere worth driving to, The Loft instantly came to mind. Located in Blair Atholl (it’s right next to a holiday park, but don’t let that put you off), this amazing little place is well worth the drive.

I had the best dessert of my life here, White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, which was a delicious assault on the senses. I’d only ever had “bog standard crème brûlée” before my visit, but throw in white chocolate and we’ve gone dessert next level.

It’s run by a husband and wife, she’s front of house, he’s the chef, and they make most of their delicious dishes using local, seasonal produce, from the surrounding Perthshire Highlands. We fell upon the restaurant by chance, after a trip up to the Highland Wildlife Park, it’s not huge – perhaps 10-15 tables at the most – but they punch well above their weight, knocking out fine dining style food, in an unpretentious setting. If you happen to drop by on a Thursday, it’s steak night, or on a Sunday, you’ll get a delicious home cooked roast.

It’s rare that I can remember the delicious flavours of what I ate, so long after a meal, but to this day, I can still recall the delicious highland venison main course, paired perfectly with a glass of their house red.

My recommendation would be to visit The Loft in the evening, for the more sophisticated offerings – you’ll not be disappointed.

 

Things to Do in Blair Atholl: Blair Atholl Castle, Falls Of Bruar, Loch Tummel, Queen’s View & Pitlochry is also close-by (so if you go visit in the month of October The Enchanted Forest should be on your list!)

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Bistro


And if you fancy some places a little closer to home, both Yun Yun and Kirstie have offered up suggestions of restaurants within 30 mins of Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh, but still within the central belt area…. you’d be surprised what other things there are to do even more local to where you stay that you didn’t know about!


East Kilbride

“East Kilbride is the largest town in South Lanarkshire in Scotland and the 6th largest settlement in Scotland. It was also designated Scotland’s first new town on 6 May 1947.”

east kilbride places to eat restaurants in things to do

Yun Yun of @foodieyunyun

Oiishi @oiishiek

Website: http://oiishi.co.uk/

Address: 8 – 10 Hunter Street, East Kilbride G74 4LZ

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

Yun Yun Explains Why: “I am always on the hunt for good quality sushi and I recently discovered Oiishi, a Japanese restaurant in East Kilbride. It is certainly not a place I would think of when it comes to  Japanese food especially when there are plenty of options in Glasgow but you have to trust me on this one because it really is worth travelling to! In the space of four months, I have been to this place four times so pretty much once a month so that says something right?

Like any other Japanese restaurant there are plenty of options from sushi, rice dishes, curry, noodles, sashimi and bento boxes. One thing worth knowing is that they also offer a gluten free and vegan menu so if any of you are struggling to find a place that can accommodate your dietary requirements here is another one you can add to your list. For me, this spot is worth travelling to because of the high quality of food in particularly, the sushi and ramen yet prices are very reasonable. The Japanese Roast Pork Soup Ramen is to die for and would you believe me if I said I was never a fan of soup ramen until I tried it here? I have tried soup ramen from several places and often find the soup to be filled with MSG but here the soup is packed full of flavour and there is no need to down gallons of water after your meal.

The Volcano & Summer Rolls are absolutely phenomenal not to forget the Salmon Nigiri because the salmon practically melts in the mouth. This spot is special because I lived in East Kilbride many years ago so it actually gives me an excuse to visit my hometown besides, it brings back a lot of memories from when I was a child. So, if you’re looking for decent Japanese food without the price tag then plan a trip to East Kilbride and give Oiishi a visit.”

Things to Do in East Kilbride: National Museum of Rural Life, Calderglen Country Park, James Hamilton Heritage Park, M&D’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Bothwell Castle & Chatelherault Country Park

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Auld Raes Scottish BistroZucca Ristorante PizzeriaMata Hari Asian Fusion Malaysian RestaurantD’Lish Cafe Bistro


Bothwell

“Bothwell is a conservation village in the South Lanarkshire council area of Scotland. It lies on the north bank of the River Clyde, adjacent to Uddingston and Hamilton, 9 miles east-south-east of Glasgow city centre.”

bothwell castle places to go things to do places to eat restaurants

Kirstie of @scottish_food_stories

Plato, Bothwell @platobothwell

Website: http://platobothwell.com/

Address: 27 Main St, Bothwell, Glasgow G71 8RD

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

Kirstie Explains Why: “A restaurant that I would recommend taking a trip to is Plato in Bothwell. I found out about this restaurant from a friend as they recommended it to me, they bought an ITISON voucher which included 2 courses and a glass of either wine or fizz for £19 for 2 people!!! Which is an absolute bargain, so I absolutely had to buy it for myself.

After booking a table on Friday night I looked forward to it until the minute we arrived. To start I ordered Scallops with Salmon Caviar on sundried tomatoes which was amazing, then for mains Salmon fillet with crushed potatoes and a creamy sauce. After a few cocktails and glasses of wine we decided to share a Greek Dessert called Kataifi which was a beautiful dessert made up with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, pastry, syrup and ice cream.

Plato is a Greek restaurant inspired by the Greek island of Milos, I wouldn’t normally pick Greek food when going out for a meal but after trying Plato I feel more open minded to try more Greek restaurants.

I would recommend others to try Plato as from start to finish it was a great evening with even better food, the staff were friendly and the décor of the place was nice and homely, and they sat us at a lovely table in view of the bar which made this really special for me. I’m already debating how soon is too soon to go back?”

Things to Do in Bothwell: same as East Kilbride options above – National Museum of Rural Life, Calderglen Country Park, James Hamilton Heritage Park, M&D’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Bothwell Castle & Chatelherault Country Park

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: RivaDa Luciano, RossoThe Cricklewood

Interestingly, throughout the drafting of this article, I’ve been made aware of a few people either suggesting a restaurant that has been featured (@skinbysisi suggested Plato in Bothwell for our next brunch in a few weeks time) and I’ve seen a friend visiting another (@clarajanex visited The Barley Bree last night for a Sunday roast). Therefore, if anything can encourage you to make a special trip, surely it’s the knowledge that others even outwith the foodie community will make the effort to visit the restaurants we’ve chosen.

Let me know if you make a day of it and if it was worth the trip, or even if you have any other suggestions of things to do / restaurants you think should be included within the location feature.

*some photos have been supplied from the collaborator, and others have been taken from Google to provide visual insight into what you can expect if you visit


‘Default’ Restaurant List: A Comprehensive Guide to Glasgow Foodies ‘Go To’ Spots in GLA #cravingreliability

Why: I asked and you voted! So here you are …

Following my blog post on Topolabamba here (which is one of my choices) where I discussed the concept of ensuring you have a list of restaurants in your pocket to ‘default’ to in times of little planning or inspiration, the idea of writing this blog was born. I initiated a poll on Instagram asking my followers if they would enjoy reading a blog which provided a selection of these ‘default’ restaurants for perusal in times of “where shall we go?” and the resounding answer was yes!

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Default (noun): a preselected option adopted when no alternative is specified

So instead of an egotistical view of my own default restaurants, I went a-knocking on the DM door of a few of my fellow food bloggers in the Glasgow insta-foodie scene. From that, I’ve compiled a list of our ‘go to’ spots for your future dining enjoyment. We all want to leave a restaurant feeling content, so we’ve made sure that was our prime emotion upon exiting these restaurants at all times!

The only stipulation I specifically mentioned was that their restaurant suggestion had to be somewhere that it would be easy enough to book a table last minute on a Saturday night. As isn’t this always the time we find ourselves craving some decent grub and at a loose end if you haven’t had the foresight to book somewhere in advance?

I hope you’re looking forward to finding out …


Heather Beveridge of @Beveridgebites

Shandon Belles

Address: 650 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8UF

http://twofatladiesrestaurant.com/shandonbelles

Heather Explains Why: “When in a panic to book a last minute Saturday night table, The Shandon Belles bistro is my tasty secret weapon. It’s run by the Two Fat Ladies brand, so I know I’m going to get some good quality food, but at a much more affordable price.

The menu is carefully selected, with only four or five options for each course. And it’s the same for the wine list. This means less arsing about reading, and more time enjoying the quality cooking. Starters come in at an average of £6, and mains £12 (although on a couple of my visits they’ve had a three course deal – if you’re one for being thrifty like me!). The bar boasts a fab range of gins and spirits, and there is often a cocktail of the day that’s definitely worth a try.

The quaint little restaurant is cosy, well decorated and super friendly. It’s tucked into a small corner of a residential area, and positioned in the basement of Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery – and only a 5 minute walk along from the bustle of Finnieston’s cocktail bars for an after dinner drink.

You’re almost certain to get a table without booking, but it’s probably safest to phone up beforehand to check. It’s definitely one to impress, and you can trust them with your belly for a quality meal without any stress.”


Evalyn Lee Sullivan of @glasgow_gourmet

Same Same Restaurant / Ka Ka Lok

Same Same Address: 185-189 St George’s Rd, Glasgow G3 6JD

Ka Ka Lok Address: 175 St George’s Rd, Glasgow G3 6JD

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ka-Ka-Lok/657803364284352

Evalyn Explains Why: “With there being so many restaurants in Glasgow (and new ones popping up constantly), I try not to go to the same place repeatedly within a short space of time. HOWEVER! When I have dinner with my family (and usually as a last-minute thing), we do tend to stick to two restaurants: Same Same Restaurant (previously called Asiama, and bizarrely still has that as its sign around the corner) and Ka Ka Lok. They are practically next to each other on St George’s Road so if one is full, you can always walk a few steps over to the other one!

I believe they might have “Western” menus which have the usual Chinese takeaway suspects, but that’s not what we order from – both places serve proper Chinese and Malaysian food and you can tell that it’s authentic because many of the people in there look EXACTLY the same as me (bahahahahah!).

If you’re wanting fine dining, then Same Same and Ka Ka Lok are not for you – there’s nothing fancy about their décor, plating or service. It’s just tasty food in reasonably generous portions, that will leave you feeling happy, full and satisfied.

I would recommend the Stuffed Three Treasures (I’m not kidding!) which is aubergine, pepper and tofu stuffed with prawn paste and served in a black bean sauce. Feel free to ask for just one of the three – we get it without the tofu. Make sure you get some steamed rice to soak up that delicious sauce!”


Emmy Todorova of @foodnotes_gla

Buck’s Bar

Address: 111 W Regent St, Glasgow G2 2RU

http://bucksbar.co.uk/

Emmy Explains Why: “Buck’s Bar is one of those places that just keeps inviting you back in. Delicious food,  plenty of good drink choices to wash it all down with, rock n’ roll ambiance and a well stocked hot sauce rack! Ticks pretty much every box for me when I’m looking for casual dining options.You can expect good sized portions of chicken wings or fried chicken, as spicy or mild as you like them, or even burgers and salads.

I’m a massive fan of chicken wings, especially the spicy variety, and Buck’s is by far the best wing and chicken bar in Glasgow. I can always trust that I will have a solid meal and leave happy. In summary, there is something really good about knowing you can go somewhere where you know what you are getting and you know it will hit the spot every time. This place is Buck’s Bar for me.”

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Yun Yun of @foodieyunyun

Loon Fung

Address: 417-419 Sauchiehall St, City Centre, Glasgow G2 3LG

http://www.loonfungglasgow.com

Yun Yun Explains Why: “Loon Fung is one of my go to restaurants, a Chinese restaurant based on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. This place is easy to get to and there is street parking right outside the restaurant. I like the fact that this place offers both traditional Chinese and Western style Chinese dishes and they also do a great selection of Dim Sum which are small dishes that can be shared – a similar concept to tapas.

To give you an idea, they have Western dishes such as Sweet and Sour, Curry and Kung Po and if you are feeling adventurous why not try some of the traditional food like Beef Flank with Mooli, Monkfish with Tofu and Three Roast which are my all time favourites. With over 200 different dishes to choose from including vegetarian dishes, surely there will be something for everyone I hope. In terms of price, there are individual starters from £3.50 ranging up to £80.00 for sharing ones and there are mains from £8.50. Another thing to note is, Loon Fung was actually the first traditional Chinese restaurant to open in Scotland and I have been coming here since I was a little girl. On my last visit, I had a selection of Dim Sum for lunch and the King Prawn and Chive Dumplings are a must order! You are most likely to get a table without booking but I guess the safest option is to always get in touch beforehand.”

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This is another vote for Loon Fung… which is partly my fault for not sharing with each contributor what everyone else chose (but to be fair, there was a flurry of submissions last minute). It just confirms Loon Fung is a must visit if you’ve not yet been, so please read on for Sheila’s view …

Sheila Kupsch of @sheila_quite_likes

Loon Fung

Address: 417-419 Sauchiehall St, City Centre, Glasgow G2 3LG

http://www.loonfungglasgow.com

Sheila Explains Why: “Glasgow is like an old friend to me and I feel like we’ve grown up together! I moved when I was ready to fly the nest and in the fifteen years since then I’ve celebrated the highs and the lows of the city along with my own personal ones. Changed my hair about twenty times and gained three stone. I have loved watching the landscape change and seeing the food culture grow across the city. Constantly finding new food places popping up and old favourites closing down.

Loon Fung on Sauchiehall Street has remained stoic and held it’s crown the whole time (and it’s décor). It’s really big inside and there is usually always a table somewhere. It was one of the first places I went when I first moved here and I return time and time again; sometimes for lunch; sometimes for dinner; sometimes for a cry and a bun; sometimes to support a friend whose having a cry and a bun. You get the gist! Like me; and like Glasgow – Loon Fung has had it’s highs and lows, closing for a short time after a large fire on Sauchiehall Street. But like me; and like Glasgow, it has bounced back. A few weeks ago when I was in an “at a loss” situation, it was my first thought – much like calling that one friend you know will know exactly what to do when you’re in a drama.

For me, the best thing about Loon Fung is the dim sum. If I was recommending this place to someone else I would say it’s all about the dim sum and less about the mains. My favourites are: the char sui buns; king prawn dumpling; Vietnamese spring rolls and the shangai wor traps. The buns are so light and delicate and fluffy and the sauce is so sticky and sweet inside. You can check out some snaps from my times there on my pinned stories. Go get your dim sum on.”


Bobby of @bitsandbobster

Mora

Address: 1166-1170 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TE

https://morabarandkitchen.com

Bobby Explains Why: “Life is hard sometimes. Marvellous as it is, it can often be a turbulent cycle of push and pull. Be here. Get this done. Go there. Catch up with her. Don’t forget him. Meet that deadline. The mad head-rush from trying to keep up with it all can be nauseating from time to time. And you know what? Every so often, you need somewhere to go where you can just take a moment to re-centre yourself. That’s what Mora is to me: The culinary equivalent of having your head petted when you’re feeling low.

My partner and I come so often that we’ve happily powered through most of the things on offer – all of it lovely. Crisp-shelled, unctuous arancini. Utterly addictive polenta fries with zingy sugo. Top-notch pizza. Cracking stuff, yes… But fresh pasta is Mora’s golden gun. Need cheering up? Then look no further. A bowl (or two) of Mora pasta is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a reassuring cuddle in a bowl. Whatever the mood, they’ve got something for you. Slow-cooked beef shin ragu of tectonic depth. Velveteen mushroom agnoloti with fragrant sage butter. Fresh, invigorating seafood linguine. And best of all? The utterly luxurious lobster ravioli. Fishy parcels of pure succulence, bewitchingly bathed in the most glorious oceanic lacquer. A lovelier sauce in Glasgow, you will not find.

Don’t take my word for it. Do yourself a favour and find out. Have a few of their lip-smacking cocktails while you’re at it. You deserve it.”


Amy Glasgow of @theglasgowdiet

Bread Meats Bread

Address: 104 St Vincent St, Glasgow G2 5UB

http://www.breadmeatsbread.com

Amy Explains Why: “If there’s one place that I go back to time and time again, it’s Bread Meats Bread. It might be an obvious choice, but it’s a great one too! Their burgers are some of the best I’ve ever had and it’s an ideal last-minute, spur of the moment option. You can’t book, and it tends to be pretty busy at peak times, but I’ve never waited for longer than 15-20 minutes. Even with such a high turnover, I’ve never felt rushed there, although it doesn’t take me long to devour a Wolf of St Vincent Street! The sweet potato fries are a joy, and their poutines are my go-to hangover food (although they taste just as good when you’re not hungover!)”

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Shek of @shekness_monster

Nanakusa

Address: 441 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3LG

http://www.nanakusa.co.uk/

Shek Explains Why: “We all have a ‘default’ place (or places) we like to eat where you know exactly what you’re going to get and you know it’s going to be good.  I love to try new places but sometimes I just need somewhere that’s familiar and can go at a moments notice (usually on a Friday night when I’ve had a rough week and nothing left in the fridge). My favourite ‘go to’ is without a doubt Nanakusa on Sauchiehall Street.

The food is always consistent at Nanakusa and I’m a big fan of their noodle soups which are huge bowls of deliciousness and just what you need during the colder months. The tempura prawns and teriyaki chicken also make a regular appearance on my table as does some form of sushi.

I’ve been a patron of Nanakusa for a few years now so I’ve gotten to know the staff who always welcome me in and manage to find me a table even though I very rarely book. For me, service is just as important as the food and you will always get the friendliest smile from Mayuko, the Manager.

It’s relaxed, uncomplicated and unpretentious. Just good comforting food that you can eat over and over and never get tired of. They also do takeaway which is a huge bonus. A recent refurb has introduced tables with hot plates where you can cook food at your own table so I will definitely be backin the not so distant future…”


Bethany of @glaswegianfoodie

Nippon Kitchen

Address: 91 W George St, Glasgow G2 1PB

http://www.nipponrestaurant.co.uk/

Bethany Explains Why: “When I’m in one of those stereotypically ‘female moods’ of not knowing where to eat, my go to Glasgow eatery has to be Nippon Kitchen. A gorgeous, relatively hidden gem in the city centre, it’s a great little place for stunning sushi, amazing ramen and exceptional donburi dishes.

Situated on across from Nelson Mandela square, it’s often by-passed for it’s lesser rival Wagamama. If you like Wagamama, Nippon Kitchen will open your eyes to a whole new side of Japanese cuisine.

I’ve been here countless times, and it has never failed me. The ingredients are high quality, the staff exceptional and full of information for those new to Japanese cuisine – it’s definitely one for a sushi beginner!

From soft shell crab to the less known ochazuke, every dish I’ve tried has been great both in portion size and quality. Which is fabulous considering its extremely affordable!

If you’re heading down, try the prawn tempura, duck teriyaki, or any of the ramen! It’ll blow your socks off.”

bethany


And lastly, I’ll throw in my own tuppence worth (even although I mentioned Topolabamba above), cause this particular restaurant can’t be missed!

Lauren of @laurenscravings

Address: 441 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3LG

http://paesanopizza.co.uk/

Lauren Explains Why: as per the first couple of paragraghs in my full blog – “I’ll try to make this review as quick as Paesano makes their pizza’s (90 seconds apparently) – as truly delicious things can’t be described with justice through words and pictures – you just gotta try it for yourself! Pizza can elicit a sense of calm, serene happiness for me; biting into doughy crust with vibrant tomato sauce and delectable toppings is a hard combination to defeat in both culinary aspects or in general life. So when I found myself heading back home from walking the dog last night, thinking “what shall I have for dinner?”, Paesano was firmly always at the top of that list.

Firstly, for being such a damn tasty pizza, they’re so reasonably priced! When you compare the cost to that of its competitors (e.g. Toni’s Pizzeria Giffnock/Gibson St), it comes out triumphant both in affordability and flavour. The price ranges from £6 – 8 per pizza, with the option to add additional toppings if you want (either from the other pizzas or the Specials Board). Their menu has 9 options, with generally another 2 pizza options on their Specials Board, which can vary weekly.”

If you fancy reading the rest, then you can click here.

Drop us a note on Instagram and let us know if this blog has encouraged you to try somewhere new at the last minute; at peak craving time and you need pulled out the cavernous stomach hole you’ve found yourself in.

Thanks to all contributors who got involved and submitted their blurbs to me, I love this foodie community more and more with each passing week.

Lauren x

*all photos are credited to their owners or were sourced by them (below each associated contributors blurb)

Ox & Finch, Finnieston #cravingselloutbritishinspiredtapas

Trendy, high-ceilinged venue with a casual vibe, offering creative, contemporary tapas-style dishes.

A La Carte

Why: they make elegant food seem effortless, whilst maintaining consistent high quality in all areas including excellent ingredients, new menu items to keep things fresh in addition to the solid favourites and fantastic service. Their success is only accentuated by the fact you need to ensure you book a table well in advance, as you’re about as likely to get a last minute table at Ox & Finch as you are winning the lottery!

30th August 2018

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My visit to Ox & Finch on this occasion was due to a friend finishing the Graduate Program within the company we work for and also getting a job in the same team as me. I wanted to treat her in celebration of her success, so Ox & Finch had been on my list to re-visit. Having just recently started a new job in that region myself, I had been working pretty hectic hours with days that seemed to merge into one another. So approximately 45 minutes before our dinner was due to start, a reminder flashed up in my phone (whilst I was still out on site) and I had to chuck everything together, hang up on someone and race out of there whilst making sure I locked and alarmed up everything too to attempt to get there in time (screenshot below refers).

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Luckily, the traffic wasn’t too bad travelling from the southside of Glasgow into the city centre and I made it with a minute to spare! We had booked for 6pm, so I actually had to wait at the bar for a couple of minutes as the couple seated at our table prior to us was just leaving as I arrived. I was seated not long after, and after choosing water (tap obviously, I’m like a poster child for it at this point in my work gear…) which arrived in a lovely repurposed Harris gin bottle, I waited. When it got to around 10 past, quarter past … I phoned Fruzsi (my friend), as after our exchange where I advised I may have been late, she was now significantly later whilst only living a few minutes walk away. Oh how I laughed… as she thought the table was booked for 6.30pm and had been waiting around in her flat ready to go, so ironically I had beaten her!

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As I hadn’t had much time that day to eat much else, I decided to order a ‘snack’ to tide me over until we had both settled down to choose our main menu items. The beetroot hummus, whipped feta, hazelnut dukkah and chicory was an obvious choice; as anything with feta and beetroot is bound to be magnificent to me – I love the flavours! I also ordered the fresh toasted sourdough with salted butter to “wash it down” (if there was some way of gesticulating sarcasm and my barely veiled attempt to justify eating bread, then I’d do it … unfortunately you probably see right through me thinking ‘why in the feck would she wash anything down with sourdough?’, but ask me if I care… I don’t).

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So Fruzsi arrived (told you she lived close), which meant she could share in the delights of my snack starters. I’m not shy in admitting there was a part of me that was gutted I had to share anything at all; I still have to work on this inherent gremlin inside of me lingering just below the surface coaxing me to steal ALL the food and snarl, kick and bite at anyone who tries to take any of it away from me. Does anyone else have this problem?

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We chatted for a while and finally settled on 5 dishes (if you don’t count the 2 x snacks/starters we already indulged in). With the first powerhouse sense of scent hitting us in the form of the charentais melon, prosciutto ham, white balsamic & mint. The fragrance from this dish was knock-you-over-worthy; it assaulted your nostrils upon entering the table’s atmosphere. Such simplicity in a small plate, but utterly worth the (some would say overpriced) cost of £6.50, as we enjoyed it so much.

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Keeping in the theme of simply but stylishly stunning – the buffalo mozzerella, isle of wight tomatoes, basil oil & aged balsamic arrived next and we dug into it with the fervour of my pups attacking a fresh bone from the knackery. The zing of the tomatoes was balanced with the sweet tartness of the balsamic and the creamy mozzerella stole the whole show. This was important for me, as I find so often with the wrongly chosen supermarket mozzerella that you feel like you’re eating a lump of plastic. It broke up softly and without the need for slicing, just came apart like it knew the basil oil needed more surface area to penetrate for maximum tastiness.

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Now I’ve had this next dish in some similar theme or other from Ox & Finch before, but this iteration of it was better than anything I’ve ever tasted before. The venison, juniper and peppercorn carpaccio with hazelnuts and crowdie sang with varying notes of flavour, culminating in its eventual harmonious symphony of deliciousness in my mouth. If you generally shy away from raw meat, I would encourage you to try this, as the accompaniments suit it so well that you can hardly tell it’s ‘raw’. I love crowdie; it’s got a place in any savoury or sweet dish in my opinion so with my knife I spread it thickly over the venison prior to it making the final destination journey into my gub. The hazelnuts provided a silently strong backbone to the dish, ensuring the softness of both raw meat and crowdie didn’t leave you wanting. In the words of a fellow insta foodie (@myyummofoodblog) – YUMMO!

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Now at a price tag of £14.00, the seared scallops, piccalilli, ramsay’s black pudding & apple dish could be off-putting, as I will admit for all of three scallops, it’s pretty steep. However, as soon as you scoop up some of that puree, smear it on a scallop you’ve shredded in half with your fork, whilst piling it up with apple and black pudding … you soon forget the somewhat questionable cost as the dish sends you into a dreamworld of  tantalised taste buds, exorcising all thoughts of potential expense. The sear on the scallops speak for themselves (and for the Chef’s for that matter – as they clearly know what they’re doing) … could you refrain from choosing the scallops when you visit?

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Another ‘MUST HAVE’ when visiting Ox & Finch is the confit duck leg, yellow curry, thai basil and crispy rice, and yes I capitalised the ‘must have’ for a reason. This dish is a long-standing menu item on their menu, and it’s stayed whilst others have come and gone or been amended slightly, for a damned good reason – ’cause it’s so fricken delicious that I can imagine people staging a protest if it were to be removed. The crispy rice is the foundation of the dish, much like a house needs bricks, as without it it would undoubtedly fall over. The duck is delicate, whilst also being robust, and breaking off the bone is delectable chunks to be fought over by the diners (or at least this is what happened with Fruzsi and I … the gremlin raised it’s ugly head and accused her of taking too much meat and not sharing exactly equally, ha!) And all of this is swimming lazily in the prefectly balanced yellow curry sauce of dreams (I’m using the dream analogy again, yes, but then you’ll forgive me for thinking that this place is a Mecca of sorts).

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Due to my eagerness to order dishes in advance of Fruzsi even turning up, meaning we ‘kind of’ ordered 7 dishes instead of 5 (I’ll maintain these weren’t all actual dishes, as some were quite light, making them half dishes in my opinion LOL), I wasn’t sure I wanted dessert. I must mention, there is a strict difference between want and need when it comes to food and me, and I’ll admit I’m easily swayed when anyone attempts to change my mind in favour of more tasty goodness. Thus, the raspberry millefeuille with olive oil and mascarpone was ordered and oh what joy I had that Fruzsi convinced me to share it with her! It was sheer DELIGHT in layered form. I love a good textural experience and this creation was so bloody good, I wish I’d ordered my own. Don’t be discouraged by the almost simple descriptions of the menu items at Ox & Finch – as if you are not wow’d at every turn, I’ll take you back all over again and convince you to change your mind!

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I treated Fruzsi to this meal and it totalled £58.50 for all dishes and we had only drank tap water throughout the meal. Worth every penny!

Chefs of Ox & Finch, you talented bunch, keep it up!!

Topolabamba #cravingdaddyprawntacos

Topolabamba is the Mexican restaurant for true foodies. Try our classic Mexican dishes and street food – oh and make sure to leave room for dessert; we’re talking churros people! Share with friends (real or imaginary) and even take a photo for Instagram if you like! Use the hashtag #Topolabamba and we might even share with the rest of our followers and likers. We are proud of every single dish that leaves the kitchen and every single “mmmm” from our customers. For those of you who love authentic Mexican food – or simply food in general – you’ve come to the right place.

A La Carte

Why: if you’re looking for no fuss, vibrant and tasty Mexican food in Glasgow – Topolabamba is the place to go! Plus it’s ‘tapas’ style, meaning you get to share and try lots of dishes during the course of one meal, so make sure you don’t miss out on the Pasilla Prawn Tacos, ’cause they are the BOMB. Good service each and every time I’ve visited lifted the score slightly, as it is a more casual dining spot.

26th July 2018

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Topolabamba is one of those restaurants that Johnny and I regularly default to in times of ‘where shall we go for dinner’ when we don’t have the energy to search for inspiration; simply because its tasty, reliable and offers a variety of dishes that will address most of your cravings at any given time (even if you don’t know what they are yet!) I feel like by making that statement I’m making it sound basic and ‘you know what you get’ type of food, but in all honesty I believe you need a couple of places like that in your restaurant repertoire. For example, The Glasgow Food Geek has Bread Meats Bread as part of her default list, and I know this from watching insta stories that depict the typical ‘not sure where to go’ theme, and ending in a place that you know they frequent in times like that. It’s honest, good food that is generally reasonably priced and never too busy that you can’t get a table (like Ox and Finch, which is also in my Top 5 list, but not in my ‘default’ list – for the simple reason you need to book weeks in advance).

I find that I rarely talk about ‘vibes’ too much in my blogs, because Johnny makes fun of me for using that particular word and I get enough daily criticism from him to avoid small pitfalls where I can (ha!), but Topolabamba has a relaxed, whilst upbeat, vibe that matches any type of evening you fancy having. Going in with 10 people for their famous flavoured margaritas? No problem! Want a lively, but not too lively that you can’t hear each other, romantic first date restaurant? Ideal! Looking for a quick bite after a day of shopping and don’t want to bother with getting dressed up? Come on in! It genuinely manages to address every possible atmospheric brief you could level at it and come up trumps. And that’s before I even get onto the food…

I didn’t hashtag #daddyprawntacos for nuttin’! These ‘PASILLA KING PRAWN TACOS’, perfectly formed using ‘Crispy Pasilla Chilli Battered King Prawns, Soft Corn Tortillas & Mexican Slaw’ are what keeps me coming back again and again and again. The crunch on these things is unreal! The prawn meat inside is always wonderfully done, the Mexican slaw not too spicy and the soft taco shell cradling it all in anticipation of your inevitable swoon. I’m not joking – I phoned the restaurant in advance of coming when I visited on this particular night, as they had run out the last time I visited, and it’s not worth Johnny having to deal with my disappointment and utter despair if we went and had to face that fate yet again. Luckily though, they were stocked up and ready to go, so I obviously ordered a portion to myself, which meant Johnny had to order a couple for himself too. He made one of his typical vulgar jokes re. the comparison photo of both prawns (above on the left) about how you’re the one at the back whilst the prawn at the front is the guy she told you not to worry about. He made me put that joke on my insta story LOL thereafter checking with me every 5 minutes if I’d received any comments on the hilarity of the joke… I took my pleasure from advising him clearly my insta foodie pals didn’t find it as funny as he did.

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Johnny then chose to order the Lamb Rojo Tacos & Barbacoa Beef Tacos (pictured above), and I helped him with one of the lamb tacos. The meat is succulent, slow cooked and juicy, meaning the cool crema and/or crumbly cheese is integral to ensuring you can finish them all off easily. Fresh garden herbs lift the somewhat heavy and rich meat laden flavours, without detaching you wholly from them; you enjoy the headiness and then are whisked away to avoid it becoming too intense.

These Crab Ceviche Tostadas (pictured above), which are 2 crispy corn tortillas topped with crab and crema were refreshing, light, crunchy and sharp; a veritable myriad of textural and taste sensations. This is my sort of dish – seafood with fresh lemon squeezed on top served on a crunchy, crisp tostada for that satisfying bite. These are a close second to my prawn tacos and will forevermore remain on the default menu list items for Topolobamba (please never remove these from the menu!!)

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Without fail, no matter how much else he orders or how full he is, Johnny always orders the ‘CHICKEN MOLE ENCHILADA’ – Pulled Poblano Chicken Baked with Crumbly Cheese, Served with a Rich Red Mole Sauce – a meaty mountain of a meal in itself. Funnily enough, with the three different types of tacos (in addition to the fact he’d eaten steak and rice literally about an hour before we came out) he fell short on this occasion. But our servers were great when we asked to take it away in a doggy bag, meaning he has his sixteenth meal of the day sorted (note: slight hyperbole may have been used in this statement).

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The only small criticism I had for this visit was that I ordered the ‘CALLO DEL MAR’ – King Scallops with Guajillo Chilli Sauce for the first time. Unfortunately, I had finished all my other dishes and was waiting for a little whilst for the scallops before inquiring where they’d managed to run off to from a waiter. His response that they ‘took longer than the other dishes to cook’ somewhat puzzled me, considering scallops are an extremely delicate protein and therefore by their very nature take LESS time than most things to cook. I think Johnny’s comment was that we could have cooked a tomahawk steak in less time, but he’s a bit of a c*nt, which I believe I alluded to earlier, so I generally ignore these comments. Moreso, because I’m generally always the one who makes comments/complaints when we’re in restaurants… it’s the age old situation of him loading the bullets and me shooting them ’cause I’m a mouthy bugger at the best of times. But instead, I settled down pondering this for a few minutes, awaiting their arrival, as Johnny was still working his way through his dishes at this point and wasn’t paying too much attention (yet). They arrived not long after, delivered by who I later found out was Ken (Manager), who stated they had taken longer than was acceptable and he’d taken them off our bill as a result. This type of preemptive service always makes me happy; when you receive excellent customer service without the need to prompt action yourself. So thanks Ken!

The scallops themselves were oven baked, so not usually how I’d like scallops, but I understand they’re probably more in keeping with the theme of food that’s being served in the restaurant. They were tasty enough, but I’m not going to rush back to have them again. Next on my list is the new menu additions of CAMARONES A LA PLANCHA, which is another prawn dish of 2 Large Gulf Coast King Prawns Grilled in Chilli Butter, Served with an Agave Tequila & Lime Dip & COCTEL DE CAMARON – a Classic Mexican Style Prawn Cocktail served over Chilled Shredded Lettuce on a Picante Sauce, ’cause I’m an 80’s baby cliche and bloody adore a prawn cocktail (can you tell I’m prawn obsessed?!)

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Top Tip: if you book your table for 6pm, there are single yellow lines right outside the restaurant, therefore you can park for free in the evenings (after 6pm) or anytime on Sundays – enjoy !

Cail Bruich – Taste of the Season – June 2018 #cravingpreCBrefurb

“At the CAIL BRUICH Restaurant our focus is to create a modern style of Scottish Cuisine, influenced by the best in classical and modern cooking techniques. We passionately craft our menus with an appreciation of the finest ingredients and produce, all available from Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.”

Taste of the Season

Score: 16/20

Why: they scored slightly lower on this occasion primarily because the service was a little slower (when we’d asked for it to be sped up) and for no comment/action on the dessert issue – see below for details. It was lunch time and the restaurant was quieter than the dinner service the month prior so I hadn’t expected this to be the case (maybe I was just missing the attentiveness of Josh, who knows!), but take a look at my other Cail Bruich blog post here for my 19/20 experience.

June 2018

Menu

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Upon enter the restaurant at 12.30pm, we were seated at the window (which I’d requested) and offered some water. I had been given a voucher (Taste of the Season menu deal for two) and advised the Waitress that we would be using it. I arrived 10 minutes before the booking time and earlier than my friend, Andrew, but I mentioned that we only had limited time to have our meal as he was working afterwards (we offered them the specific time he would need to leave). Once he arrived, he ordered an Americano (the relevance of this will factor in later…) whilst saying he would also just stick to tap water, and we gestured that we would like to begin the meal.

Retaining some mystery and intrigue, the menu depicts ‘snacks’ as a precursor to your first course. I love this, as although you’re aware you’re sitting down to set menu, the meal begins with a few surprises, which I always view as bonus dishes even although you routinely get them each and every time. The snacks provided were:

Crispy pigs head with lovage emulsion & Old Winchester scone with cep cream 

Meat dense and carb dense ’cause who can choose?! My preference had to be the scone; as I always favour carbs, but carbs with mushroom – DING DING DING! Apologies for the shoddy photographic skills on the pigs head, I was trying not to be rude by photographing (this was a few months ago when I still kinda cared about that… and it’s not like Andrew really bothered, as he’s been quite supportive of my blogging, but that’s social awkwardness for ya!). What would your choice be between the two snacks?

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Cultured butter with sea salt & smoked goose fat butter with juniper salt

 

Served with sour dough, the thoughtful and well matched flavours featured even in their butter is why Cail Bruich is reknowned for it’s fine dining appeal; no detail is overlooked. Andrew tried not to eat too much dairy so they delivered a serving of smooth and creamy babaganoush to the table for him; I almost wanted to steal it for myself it looked so good! We laughed at this point as I clearly hadn’t heard what she’d said it was and I was adamant it wasn’t babaganoush – shows even those of us who are ‘foodies’ get it wrong sometimes and points for Andrew (he loves to win…) So anyway, I contented myself with both knobs of butter and enjoyed them immensely.

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Flame grilled sea bream, gooseberry, radish and burnt cream

The bream dish was exactly the flavour palate I talked about in a few of my Instagram posts, specifically in relation to how well Cail Bruich manages to deliver on it. The bream almost has a raw texture, which I loved, but my friend didn’t. The gooseberry sang with sharp notes in amongst the puffed rice textured crunch and crisp, cool radish slices. The was my dish of the day, happily finishing off my friend’s dish too as he wasn’t too enamoured – his loss was my gain!

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Isle of Wight tomato, green strawberry, elderflower

Now I’ve cheated with this one and stolen the photo from their Instagram page (bad, I know) as I totally spaced on taking a photo! This was a fermented strawberry and tomato gazpacho type dish, with fresh and fragrant tomatoes offering a sweeter note to the zing of the strawberries. Many of my favourite dishes to leave the kitchen at Cail Bruich have been centered around tomatoes, but I wasn’t totally sold on the strawberry combination. I preferred the tomato, elderflower and almond milk dish from the Jamie Scott menu. I had actually got in touch with Josh (our Waiter from that evening) to ask him if he could swipe a photo of this dish for me, as I’d forgotton to take one, so unsure if the inclusion of it on their Instagram soon after was as a result or just plain coincidence, but regardless – I was lucky!

cail bruich fine dining glasgow food

 

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Cod, jersey royals, confit leek & warm tartare

We opted for the £10 supplement course and were pleased for doing so – it was delicious! Cod is so easily uninspiring (I feel), and all the small considerations on this dish raised it to godly heights. It was a warming, satisfying and well put together and thus worth the additional tenner.

I’ll mention at this point that we asked the Waitress to literally ‘call’ our next dish as soon as she placed the cod down in front of us… and continue doing so until the end, as we recognised we were running out of time. Our following course arrived quite promptly as a result, so I was optimistic that we’d finish up in enough time…

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Pork Belly, apriocot, baby gem lettuce, white turnip

Warm lettuce on meat dishes always makes me scrunch up my face and wish for a better accompaniment. Interestingly, I carried out a Poll on Instragram as a result of this thought and it seems I’m in a minority – most people love it! I will admit – of all the warm lettuce leaves I’ve had, these ones were pretty decent. Additionally, I’m not generally drawn towards warm fruit either so this dish wasn’t really flying high on my ‘god damnnn’ list, but I’ll conform and say it was a pleasant enough. For not enjoying warm lettuce or fruit with my hay smoked pork belly as a general rule, I did finish most of the dish (the meat was beautifullll – the fat had melted into the layers of the pork meat making it rich and silky). And I’ll give it one thing – it looks hella pretty!

However, we sat with finished/empty plates for a considerable period of time, and although I kept trying to catch someone’s eye, it proved slightly futile. After finally having our plates cleared and making a decision on the timing, Andrew stated he had to leave. So unfortunately, I was left alone to enjoy the joy that was the final course:

Cail Bruich glasgow Food

Artichoke cake, raspberry, carmalised whey, artichoke

I’m am officially converted to whey, which is a by product comprised of primarily milk sugar, thus giving it its smooth, rich and sweet creamy flavour. Combine this with the absolute (I’m going there…) moistness of the artichoke cake, sharp spike of the raspberries and temperature change of the cold artichoke cream and #voila – you have yourself a winning dish ! I was absolutely gutted that Andrew missed this, as it stole the show for me; every mouthful made me revel in its genius each and every time.

The disappointing element for me was that when I was issued with the bill, every item was accounted for. Now, I didn’t grumble or say anything – as it was a set menu and I had the voucher (not that that should make a difference – I always maintain vouchers should not impact on the level of service you expect), but considering we only had one dessert I was hoping for some consideration that improved serving attentiveness during our last few courses would have gone a long way in ensuring all courses were delivered within the timescale. I would like to clarify that I didn’t expect the supplement to be removed (we had eaten this course after all!), but considering Andrew had had a black coffee I suppose I use my own experience in the hospitality industry to consider how I would ideally like the establishment to react in these circumstances. Coffee beans don’t cost very much in the grand scale of things, and it would have been a nice gesture to indicate they realised that one of us had ‘missed out’ on a course, and subsequently saving them some £cash£ in the kitchen as well (as they only had to serve one).

Now, I don’t want you reading the end and thinking that the overall review is negative, because that is absolutely not the case! The food is always stand-out good at Cail Bruich and it steadfastly remains in my Top 3 restaurants in Glasgow for dinner. But I think it’s for this reason that I was looking for that final goodwill gesture; to indicate they  had observed the fact we both hadn’t managed to finish the full set menu. Maybe I’m feeling this way as it was such a wonderful, tasty course and Andrew missed out on it… as I would love to see it, or something similar, featured on their menu in future.

So this concludes my experiences of ‘pre-refurbished’ Cail Bruich, as they’ve opened up again recently with totally new seating area, bar, kitchen and menu – featuring Bar Bites (available for walk-ins, no booking required) including dishes such as: Loch Fyne oyster with frozen raspberries; crispy monkfish cheeky, ponzu mayonnaise, seaweed vinegar; BBQ sweetcorn, smoked butter, pecorino, lemon, parsley and a few more!

I can’t wait to go back again soon and see how they’ve changed everything, hopefully the food remains consistently good as always!