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).

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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’!

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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.

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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!

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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

 

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).

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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).

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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!)

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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.

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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 !

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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

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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/

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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

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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/

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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

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!

Cail Bruich – Sunday with Jamie Scott #cravingJamieScott

“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.” Sunday with Jamie Scott – Menu Score: 19/20 […]

“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.”

Sunday with Jamie Scott – Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: fine dining in Glasgow doesn’t come much better; the food, service, ambiance and general ‘feel’ of Cail Bruich is somewhere I won’t ever tire of visiting. The flavour combinations are safe, yet inspired and the roller coaster ride of textural euphoria they provide is top notch. (I have to reserve the 20/20 marks for Michelin, so it’s basically top marks for this Glasgow establishment).

27th May 2018

Menu

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So welcome to a photo gallery and musings of Cail Bruich (one of my favourite restaurants in Glasgow), with guest Chef Jamie Scott (Masterchef The Professional Winner 2014) leading up the kitchen. Cail Bruich regularly run these types of ‘events’ – just check out their Facebook and/or Instagram page for more information on upcoming dates/guests. And we’re off…

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Celariac Taco, Broad bean, Fresh Peas & Smoked Cultured Cream

Johnny complained .. cause it all looks like vegetables. ‘Cause he a MAN, and man apparently need meat in every single dish to validate their masculinity. And apparently beans are ‘change of beggars’… what am I marrying?

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Brown Crab Brioche, Brown Crab Emulsion, White Crab Meat & Lemon Thyme

This was extremely buttery, and Johnny said overpowered the white crab meat, which I do agree with but I still delighted in the richness, albeit I would maybe have paired it with something other than brioche.

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Isle of Wight tomatoes, Elderflower, Smoked Almond Milk

This was my favourite, as we had this meal 4 months ago now and I still reminisce on it with the fondness of an old friend. It was overwhelming fresh, light and visually spectacular – with the contrast of green to white – and the elderflower oil and almond milk provided a creaminess which makes it hard to forget.

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The video of the almond milk being poured over the tomatoes was the first re-post photo/video I had on Instagram, so thanks to Cail Bruich for that. Also, Josh – our Waiter – was lovely and patiently accommodated me taking a video. Clearly intuitive and insightful as I didn’t even need to say anything; really glad we had someone serving us who is excellent at their job as it improves the night tenfold.

‘Cail Bru’ beer

This beer was served with the sourdough bread (below) – it’s from Drygate brewery – a local Glasgow beer with hints of local gooseberry, oats and elderflower. A toasty malted delight!

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100% Sourdough & Cultured Butter

The bread had already been seasoned, so CB get brownie points for that. By this point  in the meal Johnny was saying he needs calories (LOL), whereas I was sitting like a happy badger all delighted.. especially with the addition of beer.

Loch Fyne Scallops, Scottish Green Strawberries, Brown Butter Hollandaise

What a delight! Cubed chunks of smooth and silky scallop meat with textures of strawberry topped off with a creamy buttery hollandaise – such a refreshingly light fish course, and one I’d welcome over and over again. At this point I said I didn’t care if Johnny complained as he wasn’t bringing me down from the foodie euphoric high you get when your tastebuds are blessed with such  flavours and textures ! But he thoroughly enjoyed the scallop dish as well, so it was a  success !

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Veal Sweetbread, Sea Beets, Fermented Garlic Purée & Pickled Mustard

The pickled mustard lifted the dish and provided a slight sharpness to balance the umami flavour, which is always welcomed by me. The sweetbreads were reminiscent of fois gras; for those who wouldn’t even ordinarily try them, I encourage you to do it in a decent restaurant where they know how to accompany the flavour to best showcase it’s delicate flavour and celebrate their unique texture.

Johnny Update: he’s having the time of his life huffing and puffing like a giant who’s been not been given his daily child as sustenance… I’m hoping we have a decent meat dish coming soon as I can’t deal with him bringing me down from my joy at this point.

Confit Lamb Shoulder, in Bassicas, Wild Garlic, White Turnip & Green Cabbage Emulsion

Hurrah! Meat arrives … the lamb was extremely tender and provided the desperate meaty richness we were after (Johnny was after). Wild garlic was in season at this point (see my Foraging post for info), so it added a great fresh, forest fragrance to the dish.

I would like it noted that I was a great fiance at this point and gave Jonathan half my lamb dish, as he had given me his tomato course earlier on. Not sure if it’s a fair trade off in the eyes of most, but it suits us – as we both ended up with more of our favourite dish.

Strawberries, Woodruff, Sweet Cicely & Freeze Dried Strawberry Meringue

Contrasting temperatures was the hero in this dish; the strawberry sorbet underneath, contrasting with the room temperature meringue and topping. A myriad of sensations!

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Newport ‘Tag Mi Suas’

‘Tag Mi Suas’ translated as ‘take a seat’ in Gaelic is Jamie’s Scottish take on a traditional  tiramisu. It was made with all local produce: 50%, 70% and 90% chocolate used, mascarpone, touch of coffee in the sponge at the bottom of the chocolate dome and milk butter sorbet.

Jamie brought this out to the table himself, and I had a fan-girl moment when meeting him, which meant that I never took a picture of the ‘whole’ dish … you may notice there is a bite sized chunk missing, ha!

So he wandered off, and whilst I was thinking ‘I wish I had asked for a photo’… Johnny rose from his chair (without prompting), walked to the pass and asked if he could come back out again for a photo with me. The outcome is below 🙂

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I returned to Cail Bruich to sample their own Chefs ‘Taste of the Season’ menu in June 2018 – please see my other post/photos here.

Tuk Tuk Street, Glasgow City Centre #cravingindiantapasflavourbombs

“Millions of street food vendors make up the colour, sounds and smells of India. They nourish the appetites of busy office workers, sweaty rickshaw wallahs and hungry school children throughout the day. Our menu pays homage to these road side culinary geniuses. Our food is the simple earthy, lovingly prepared food of the people and represents the tastes of India today.”

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Taibah and I visited Tuk Tuk Street on a Tuesday evening, and it wasn’t too busy (allowing me to get a photo of the unspoiled view of their wall mural). It had been high on my list of ‘must go’ places for months, so when arranging a place to meet Taibah, I suggested Tuk Tuk Street with eagerness. Thankfully, she’d been keen to go as well so it was an easy decision for us. I’d spent those months salivating over many, many Instagram posts featuring their dishes, so I already had a few in mind I knew I wanted to try. Additionally, their great attitude and clear effort at engaging with their customers, witnessed across Instagram, was a definite plus point for me and really encouraged me to make the effort to go.

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For me, customer service comprises a huge element when visiting any restaurant and Tuk Tuk Street illustrates their commitment to customer engagement clearly via their social media platforms. I’d even seen a post where a customer (another Glasgow foodie blogger) wasn’t overly enamoured of her experience and Tuk Tuk responded to her via the comments asking her to email them directly to discuss. Ensuring everyone leaves their restaurant happy with their experience is clearly a top priority for them; which impresses me and endears me to them and what they’re selling.

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Social media can dictate an establishment’s successful rise or untimely fall these days, so it’s important to recognise the power it wields and to engage directly with your customers using it. Therefore, my first nod of recognition is for the person(s) responsible for manging Tuk Tuk’s social media platforms, as you’re doing your job well!

* I’ve since found out it’s one person and her name is Pam – way to go Pam 🙂

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Mint Mambo

But where would that person be, without a good product? I listened to The  Untitled Food Podcast recently where they were discussing that although food blogging is moving towards food being celebrated for being aesthetically pleasing, or ‘Instagrammable’, rather than taste, nowhere would last very long if they didn’t have the quality and consistency of flavour to back up the ‘look’. Ultimately, we talk about, take photos of and blog about food because it elicits emotions in us through all five of our senses. Our eyes are only one, albeit a primary one, and whilst I will say Tuk Tuk provides vibrant colour schemes both in their décor and their food, there’s only so much you can do with good quality, traditional Indian food to make it look ‘pretty’.

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Take the ‘Majestica Prawn’ for example, as I don’t think anyone will be celebrating this dish for its visual accolades alone. And honestly, even the description of ‘king prawn in the shell slow cooked in a garlic tomato butter sauce’ doesn’t do it justice. I wiped this dish clean WITH MY FINGERS, as even using a spoon was leaving too much behind (never leave a man, or in this case a drip of sauce, behind!!). My friend saw how much I was enjoying it and offered her half to me willing, as she knows how much of a shellfish fiend I am. Smooth, creamy, with the right balance of sharpness too, the sauce was something I wish I had the recipe for as I’d make it daily to smother absolutely everything I eat! The prawn itself was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of bite left it in; perfect for mopping up some of the glorious sauce. Taste really is the primary sense required in this dish, as no amount of words or photos can truly depict how fantastic the experience is when you actually have it in your mouth.

Another dish that follows the same theme as above is the Golgappa ‘popular cold chaat puri from Mumbai with potatoes, chickpeas, & tamarind’. I probably wouldn’t even have ordered this dish had I not been with Taibah, who had eaten them as a child in Pakistan and stated it was without doubt her favourite street food dish. The dish arrived as five little ‘puffs’ filled with the vegetarian mixture, which was to be topped up with the liquid – provided in a little jug on the side.

The theatre of the Golgappa was exciting; topping up your puff with the zingy liquid and popping the whole lot in your mouth to be enjoyed. My hashtag in the title specifically references the Golgappa; they are little flavour bomb explosions upon impact with your taste buds. Again, the photo can’t depict the delight of filling up your little puff, bickering with your friend to make sure there was plenty of liquid to go around or even the thrill of anticipation experienced between filling and ensuring you get it to your mouth in time without spilling anything. Touch and taste really are the winning senses here, so hopefully photos of us enjoying them, tells more of a story than a basic photo of the Golgappa themselves.

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Similarly, how could you make this Samosa Chaat- ‘chickpeas & samosa doused with mild yoghurt, tamarind & mint chutney’ look like it had wowed you on the first bite? I adored the chunks of red onion and crispness of the samosa, combined with the cooling yoghurt and freshness of the mint chutney. But how else can I relay that to you without ordering a Deliveroo on your behalf (yes, they’re on Deliveroo you lucky Glasgow City Centre sods!) so you can try it for yourselves? You see it on Masterchef: traditional Indian cooks always struggle to make their dishes look as appealing as traditional British or French dishes, as most of them comprise sauces, liquids or curry sauces that spread out unconstrained on any surface they’re on. So much of their allure comes from the palate roller coaster ride you’re taken on, which unfortunately means we rely on the likes of Matt Preston to describe to us – using his expert and world renowned Food Critic adjectives and descriptors. So although I may not be Matt Preston, I hope you understand my feelings on my Tuk Tuk experience thus far. But moving onto mains…

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We ordered the Butter Chicken – ‘creamy chicken dish cooked in buttery sauce with almonds’ and Lamb Lasooni – ‘Chef’s favourite! Our speciality lamb diced and cooked with whole cloves of garlic’, to be eaten with a side of naan bread. The Glasgow Food Geek has said it’s the best Butter Chicken she’s ever had, and I’d like to echo those sentiments! I wouldn’t ordinarily order Butter Chicken, as it can sometimes be too rich for me, but Tuk Tuk gets the balance of flavour just right to ensure you enjoy it all the way to the end of the dish. The Lamb Lasooni was equally wonderful, and I think this was Taibah’s preference of the two dishes. We had to order another naan to make sure we finished it all!

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Throughout the meal, the service from the waiters was excellent and we even got some banter beyond the generic exchange between customer and server. Overall, the experience lived up to my expectations, which is a happy outcome for both myself and Tuk Tuk, as I’ve encouraged plenty others to ensure they try it now as a result. I only hope they continue to do well, as I want to ensure I get the opportunity to visit again soon and try some more of their amazing culinary delights!

Thanks, and I hope to be back again soon … I can already feel the craving returning!

Top Tip: Parking your car can sometimes me a bit of an issue on Sauchiehall Street, so I would suggest parking either on Bath Street (parallel to Sauchiehall Street) or on Garnet Street (hill leading up to Renfrew Street). However, please note Garnet Street can obviously only be used when all the streets have opened up again following the Art School fire.

Some extra photos from my visit with Jonathan in September 2018:

 

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Potluck, Glasgow South Side #cravinghotcakes

“POTLUCK is tucked away down a cosy street in bustling Strathbungo, an up and coming area south of the river in Glasgow. We offer modern day time dining, food that is both comforting and fresh. We look forward to feeding you.”

A La Carte Menu

Score: 17/20

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If, like me, you are/were drawn inexplicably to Potluck from the photos of their Hot Cakes on Instagram without needing or caring for any further information; I can confirm they are UN.BE.LIEVE.ABLE. As I already saw someone else say: “it’s worth the hype”. They are the type of hotcakes that strike you deaf, dumb and blind from the moment they touch your lips. I was struck momentarily speechless, and then steadily more and more overcome with unconcealed joy at the sensations happening in my mouth. Read on if you’d like to hear some more provocative language used in reference to a veritable mound of delectable carbohydrate…

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Being an independent café on the South Side of Glasgow, you already expect it to be small, but I was surprised at just how small it actually was on our arrival yesterday. Being sunny, they had the ability to seat between 4 – 6 people on benches outside, but otherwise the inside can only cater to around 14-16 covers. I’m always concerned with parking restrictions and/or availability when venturing to a new and unknown location, however I can confirm there are plenty of spaces on Nithsdale Road! So the only issue that could arise is if it’s cold and/or wet; as if there’s a queue then you have to wait outside. Like most small brunch hotspots right now, they don’t accept bookings – it’s a ‘turn up and see’ type of establishment. Considering most tables are turned around and out in less than an hour, I can understand why this is their approach and will admit that in the circumstances, it’s the correct choice.

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The bright yellow painted exterior is as eye-catching as their hot cake photos, nestled in a row of other (dull by comparison) shops and residential flats. The huge storm doors appeal to my old-fashioned sense of style and exterior/interior décor preferences (as my Pittodrie review professes), with their slap-dash use of paint only adding to its character. The potted plants hanging from the wall, illuminated by their close-by weaved lightshades; provide a homely welcome as you step through the doors. We were advised upon arrival that a table would likely be available in the next 15-20 minutes, which turned out to be accurate. Waiting in the sunshine wasn’t any sort of hardship and I also heard another waitress offer coffee to others standing in line, which was lovely. We were ushered inside (thankfully – as I hadn’t brought my suncream) to one of the tables directly visible on the right hand side.

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Adding to the small, quaint and slightly retro vibe is their almost dainty furniture, which although I found endearing, Jonathan wasn’t so enamoured … As he couldn’t fit both his legs under the table. Granted, he is significantly bigger than your average Joe, but it could cause a problem for people who hit leg day hard at the gym as much like my other half. Fresh tap water flavoured with a sprig of mint arrived at our table, alongside our menus. We ordered soon after; a skimmed flat white, a long black and Johnny opted for the Salmon Scramble – “hot smoked salmon, chilli scrambled eggs, tenderstem broccoli, sesame seeds, dill, toast”.

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Although I was tempted by many things (I’ll just need to go back again), there was only one obvious choice for me on the menu – The Hot Cakes. Let me just loosen you up, in preparation of my attempt to articulate my tasting experience, with Potluck’s menu description of them: “Peach Hot Cakes: roach peaches, white chocolate pistachio crumb, raspberries, honey, pistachio kulfi, raspberry gel, pashmak”. What is kulfi and what is pashmak I hear you ask? Kulfi is a popular frozen dairy dessert from India, similar to ice cream in taste and appearance, but denser and creamier than its Western cousin. Pashmak is an Iranian version of candy floss, which slightly melts onto the top of your hot cakes to form a crunchy sugary coating of absolute joy. They offer a lemon option as well, which I think I’ll need to order next time given my penchant for all things sharp and zingy.

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After waiting a little while longer than expected for our coffees, I asked the waitress if we could have them over. Extremely apologetic for the time we had waited, she removed them from our bill. Thank you Katie ! You really did exceed expectations by doing that, and it raised the happi-ometer in anticipation of our brunch. And then they arrived …

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I won’t say too much, as you NEED to go there yourself. Aesthetically, they were a wonder to behold; fat fluffy hot cakes nestled amongst a myriad of colours, temperatures, flavours and textures. They were stacked to a towering height of generous proportions and finished with the pretty white pashmak, or ‘fluff’ as I called it. Now I’ve eaten many a dish where they make the effort to have the dish extremely pleasing on the eye and yet it falls down in other areas (mainly taste). But no, no, no … not in Potluck! Whoever the Chef is in there, I feel like I need a photograph with them ASAP, ‘cause they are going to be famous for these babies!

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It literally struck me speechless; I moaned, I ooohh’d, I ahhh’d, I stared in wonder around the room imagining where on earth these fat, fluffy carbohydrates had been all my life. And that was only on the first mouthful as I kept being surprised with all the different elements the dish had to offer. Reminiscing about them now, I can’t quite believe how good they were. If you do anything this weekend, head to the south side of Glasgow and get some of Potluck’s hot cakes!

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Johnny’s salmon dish was a decent portion, although he had asked for an extra portion of salmon because, y’know, protein so that’s probably not the typical amount of fish. The chilli eggs were interesting and palatable (in his own words) and overall a thoroughly enjoyable dish. He did end up finishing over half of my plate of hot cakes though, and they were also his preference. Mopped every last crumb up from his plate, my plate and we probably would have done the same for our neighbouring tables plates if it hadn’t been considered socially impolite.

We left happy badgers and will definitely be returning again very soon !

Let me know what you think,

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