‘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.”

bucks bar chicken wings


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!!