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

 

‘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)

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!

cail bruich strawberry

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

 

cail bruich fine dining glasgow food

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!

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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Partick Duck Club #cravingduckeggblue

The History of the Duck Club:

in a large building with a smoking chimney located near the original transport museum site, was a tavern known as the “bun and yill house” or bunhouse (yill is an old scots word for ale) in 1827. it stood on old dumbarton road on the approach to the river kelvin. the bunhouse was the favourite tavern of a group of glasgow merchants, bankers and professors. they would walk out to partick from the city each saturday to dine on roasted duck, sage & onion and green peas, washed down with locally-brewed ale. the ducks were abundant and healthy from feeding at all the local grain mills on the banks of the river kelvin.

their favourite dish gave the name to the drinking and social club they formed in 1810, the duck club of partick. their president’s fondness for the fowl gave rise to the verse:

“the ducks of partick quake with fear, crying lord preserve us, here’s mcTear”.

All Day Breakfast Menu / Lunch & Dinner All Day Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit for dinner I’m confident PDC is worthy of 19/20 across all meal times; their stellar service, food, atmosphere and coffees at brunch time are too good not to be mirrored across the board. The owners are friendly and heavily invested in their business being a success, so how can it not be when their commitment to ensuring every customer’s experience is excellent is paramount?

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You’ve got to be quacking mad if Partick Duck Club isn’t in your top places of ‘must go NOW’ brunch spots in Glasgow! I’ve seen numerous photos all across Instagram and beyond for the last few months, which has had me eager as a beaver to plan a mate date brunch here. They do brunch all day, every day – does this not make all your dreams come true?! This weekend, my fervent anticipation has finally culminated in the BEST brunch, featuring Orkney crab. Now anything with shellfish generally means I’ll love it, but PDC truly has taken the wonderful and delicate flavour of tantalising Scottish crab and transcended it beyond any normal expectations with crème fraiche, avocado, sourdough toast, a poached duck egg and a smattering of choice garnishes.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself as I didn’t just dive head first into a plate of crab on toast upon entering (even though this sounds like the aforementioned dream plus infinity when it comes to dreaminess).

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The mirrored wall inside, viewed as you enter, gives the impression that the place is bigger than it actually is. I can’t decide if it’s a shame it isn’t bigger than originally expected, as more people should be able to experience the wonder of their fare, or a good thing, as the smaller size means it maintains a sense of intimacy. The mirror serves a dual purpose of reflecting the natural light and the subtle tones of blue allude to the duck egg colour theme that comes through throughout the restaurant, which I’m assuming is the intention. The booths are leather and blue tartan and the empty glass bottles lined up along the window sill are a noticeable feature. My friend and I were seated at one of the tables for two along the mirrored wall. I love the burnished brass effect salt and pepper grinders and the duck decorated china sugar bowl; all little touches that bring a smile to your face before you’ve even sampled the food!

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My friend, being slightly hungover, decided she was having the Eggs Benedict and a portion of the salted duck fat chips (have you ever heard of a better idea… chips WITH your Benedict?!), and I ordered the hummus, pine nuts, tomato, sourdough from the Nibbles Menu and Potted Orkney Crab with crème fraiche, apple and radish starter, which isn’t on their online menu but you can see a photo of it on their Instagram: @partickduckclub.  The staff were attentive, friendly and polite – and not even a grumble from them when Ms Fussy Pants here decided she wanted to change her original order… I’d seen the crab on toast waltz by and decided I wanted that A LOT more than the potted crab, ha! So they allowed me to swap the potted crab starter for the Orkney crab on sourdough brunch option I mentioned above. My friend ordered an orange juice as well, which only came in a small glass, so she probably could have been doing with a bit more… I can chug a whole carton when hungover, but she remained ladylike and proper; sipping only a little at a time (she’s a better woman than I – I clearly lack self-control around fresh orange after a night out).

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Our food arrived in a decent time, and it was a delight for the eyes! The garnishes they use to decorate the food and the plates are used smartly; they lift the dishes from simply pleasant to engaging, colourful and eye-catching. It’s been proven we eat with our eyes first, and taste buds later, hence why the Instagram culture is so embedded in our food pleasures nowadays, thus PDC have ensured they deliver on this extremely important factor first to grab your attention. I love the light blue colour of the plates, as the contrast of the food on them looks fantastic.

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My combination of flavours was fresh, zingy, spicy with the hint of chilli and creamy from the avocado. It’s the best brunch meal I’ve had in a long time! I can’t recommend highly enough, and the hummus was edging close to being as tasty as Paradise hummus (I measure all hummus against Paradise hummus, as it’s the best in the city – in my opinion). Having the hummus was probably a bit much, but it would have been a nice extra if I’d stuck with the lighter option starter. The micro herbs, finely diced tomato and pine nuts were a welcome textural addition. Christine, my friend, thoroughly enjoyed her Eggs Benedict, and proceeded to dip some of her chips into the hollandaise sauce. Some of the best ideas are born from hangovers, I’m sure of it! I helped finish her chips, because that’s what friends are for after all, and I can confirm they were scrumptious.

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I finished off with a coffee, decorated with a pretty fern – well done coffee maker! And the total bill came to around £36 for everything, which I felt was pretty reasonable considering the portion sizes and the quality of ingredients.

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Further dishes from my visit with Jonathan in August 2018:

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duck leg & nduja hash, fried duck egg, sour cream, sourdough

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mushroom duxelle, portobello mushroom, goats cheese cream on sourdough

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potted orkney crab – crème fraiche, chilli, lime & apple, sourdough crisp

Links below to the menus:

Lunch and Dinner Menu

All Day Brunch Menu

 

The Boathouse, Isle of Gigha #cravingislandlife

“Gigha is a small island off the west coast of Kintyre in Scotland. The island forms part of Argyll and Bute and has a population of about 160 people. The climate is mild with higher than average sunshine hours and the soils are fertile.”

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The Isle of Gigha is an island community that is owned wholly by its residents under a development trust called ‘Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust’. The islanders purchased it in March 2002 for £4million, with help from grants and loans from the National Lottery and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Interesting Fact: 15th March is celebrated as the island’s “independence day”, as this is when the purchase was made between private owners and the community.

Venturing over to Gigha, although unknown to most, is something I really feel everyone should endeavour to do at some point, especially if you’re already down the South West coastline! I work on the West Coast, and the Isle of Gigha is an island under my Operational remit at the moment, unfortunately only until the end of next week, hence why I wanted to make the most of my last minute opportunity to visit one last time. And god damn was I hella lucky with the weather! It was bloody glorious … as the photos can attest to. The island is accessible via a ferry from Tayinloan, which is situated on the A83 almost exactly between Tarbert and Campbeltown in Kintyre, Argyll.

The CalMac ferries run every hour, on the hour, from Tayinloan to Gigha from 8am until 7pm (Mon – Fri during the season) and every hour on half past the hour back from Gigha to Tayinloan. It only takes 20 minutes to travel between, and it costs approximately £25 for 2 people and a car return journey. If you want more ferry information, either in regards to timings or costs, please visit CalMac website.

Since I am a self-proclaimed foodie, which is why I started this blog in the first place, the key aspect of this post is to talk about The Boathouse restaurant. I’ll touch on where to stay, other ‘things to do’ or general information about Gigha further on , in the hopes that it may seal the deal on your decision to take a trip over to try their locally sourced seafood (maybe in conjunction with a visit to Tarbert and Campbeltown – as there’s plenty to do there too, but more on that another time!).

The Boathouse, Ardminish Bay, Gigha

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The Boathouse is a family owned restaurant with a great reputation for the finest Scottish seafood on the West coast of Scotland, most of which is landed on our doorstep.

When I visited Gigha back in February I didn’t get the opportunity to try this restaurant, as it is only open seasonally (23rd March 2018 until 30th Sept 2018). So when I decided to organise a visit this time around and I knew my Mum was coming with me, it was the obvious choice for evening dinner plans. We booked a table in advance for 7.30pm and (being the fussy, pernickety b**t*rd that I am) I requested a window seat – but being an old boathouse, there only is 2 x small windows with little visibility outside, but I’d still request it if you like natural light. Whilst sitting in our hotel’s beer garden at around 6pm, we got hungry. So I made a phone call to The Boathouse and they accommodated our booking an hour early at 6.30pm and we walked down to the restaurant from The Gigha Hotel as it only takes about 5 minutes.

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Although we’d booked a table, we walked by a few people sat on benches outside and couldn’t help ourselves – we had to sit outside too and appreciate the awesome view … I mean look at it?! Have you ever seen a more glorious backdrop … I think it would undoubtedly win first prize for the ‘most likely assumed to be a tropical island, but actually in Scotland’ award. It might tie in first place with Luskintyre beach in Isle of Harris, but Gigha is in my area right now (Argyll) – so it has my total allegiance and vote!

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My mum and I had already looked up their menu online, but were delighted to find a vast array of local seafood dishes available on the Specials Board. Anything they had run out of was marked with an asterisk (gutted about the mixed grill of fish situation… although it worked in my favour, as I’ll get onto), but regardless there was plenty on offer in addition to the main menu – lending to the fresh ‘sea to plate’ ethos. So much of their produce is landed locally on Gigha – salmon, halibut, lobsters, scallops etc. and the list goes on!

Our order comprised of the following:

Starters

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Langoustine Tails in garlic butter (me)

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Deep Fried Monk Cheek with plum sauce and lime (Mum)

The langoustine tails were finger licking good (like seriously, I’m an animal!) and they weren’t shy with the portion size either so you feel like you’ve won the lottery when the dish is placed in front of you. My Mum loved her monk cheek, and said the batter was crisp and delicious but the lime was a little sharp for her. She said I would have enjoyed it though (as my taste buds live for sharp flavours … pass me the whole lemon please!) Unfortunately at this stage, the damn midges got so bad we had to move indoors, and although they’d given away our table to someone else – they accommodated our request (thank you so much!)

Goodbye gorgeous backdrop for my photos… until we meet again…

Mains

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Whole Lobster (me – told you it worked out in my favour didn’t I?!)

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Grilled Gigha Halibut with avocado, apple, radish, chilli & orange crispy pancetta with walnut arancini (Mum)

The grilled halibut was cooked well and served over a cold salad, which my Mum said was light, crisp and nailed it on the flavour combinations – her smile below was maintained throughout the whole meal, so that always makes me happy; as I love it when I get to share a great dining experience with my Mum. I ended up ordering the lobster, because 1) they didn’t have any of the mixed grill of fish left, 2) I love lobster and 3) it kept drawing my eye, and I’m not on Gigha often – so ‘why the hell not’ attitude promptly reigned supreme in this situation. And I was not disappointed! First of all, look at the size of it! It has a monster amount of meat in it, which made for a very happy (albeit full) girl. It was cooked extremely well, and the light salad  and potatoes were the perfect accompaniments. Lobster meat can quite easily become quite tough if overcooked and not handled well, but the chef clearly knows what he’s doing with this excellent local produce!

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Desserts

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The Boathouse Meringue (me)

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Clootie Dumpling (Mum)

My Mum had decided before she came to the restaurant that she wanted the Clootie Dumpling, as it’s a childhood favourite of hers, and she said it was delicious – the ideal balance of moist and rish. She wasn’t as keen on the whiskey ice-cream that came with it, but that’s a personal preference as neither of us is hugely keen on alcohol infused ice cream. My decision to order The Boathouse Meringue was a direct result of one being placed down in front of the man sitting at the table next to us – it was a total FOMO moment. I was quite full, but I couldn’t rightly leave the restaurant knowing I had missed out on something so spectacular! It was the perfect ratio of crunchy to chewy and the vanilla infused cream and fruit complimented it impeccably in a firework display worthy finale for the overall meal.

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Our server, Annabelle, was polite, smiley and a great waitress for the duration of our meal, which always impacts on your experience of a restaurant. And she put up with facial expressions like the one above whilst I tore into my lobster! The meal came to a total of approx.. £100 (excluding tip), and we left distinctly full and feeling like Violet who just visited Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but not regretting it one.little.bit.

So much so, that after work the next day, we decided to go back from lunch the next day before getting the ferry back to the mainland. So it wasn’t quite the goodbye we thought for that glorious view, as it looked equally if not more beautiful the next day. Annabelle was working again as well and laughed when she saw we had come back less than 24 hours later and perched ourselves once again at the benches outside and – luckily for us – the midges didn’t make a return.

We decided to share a couple of starters, and opted for more seafood, as clearly The Boathouse knows how to handle its seafood and it would be a damn shame to miss out on all their offerings, so we ordered:

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King Prawns: with garlic hot sauce, cardamom and lime butter and blackened fried noodles

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Seared Scallops: with 12 hours slow cooked pork neck, pear & black pudding bon bons, cauliflower puree and green chilli and orange marmalade

The prawns were succulent, meaty juicy and moreish – with the texture contrast of the fried noodles in a rich, flavoursome sauce that my Mum proceeded to spread on bread (made freshly on Gigha). The scallops (I feel like I don’t even need to say they were cooked perfectly at this stage) were delicate and ideally suited to the cauliflower puree and bon bon accompaniments – I only wish there were more!

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We then paid up promptly, as we thought we could catch the ferry at 1.30pm, only to realise that there isn’t a 1.30pm ferry (lunchtime break) and we HAD to go back to The Boathouse for coffee and cake to await the next ferry at 2.30pm. So it was fair to say Annabelle probably thought we were obsessed by this point, but it was drinking my coffee whilst overlooking the Ardminish Bay that I had one of those rare ‘ahhhhh’ moments. One of those moments where you sit back, breathe in deeply and really appreciate your surroundings; feeling totally content and present in that current moment. We then headed off back to the mainland, having had a totally great time on Gigha, primarily thanks to The Boathouse restaurant, staff and location.

I’m only sorry I never got to try their Queenies, and their crab claws, oh wait … and their lemon sole … and ………. Oh never mind, I’ll just need to go back!

The Boathouse also offers camping and camper van facilities, with toilets and showers within their grounds. So take a trip over, park or tent up and enjoy the view over a glass of wine and some langoustine tails – I swear you won’t regret it.

Where To Stay: The Gigha Hotel

With its natural charm and delicious locally-sourced cuisine, the Gigha Hotel is a true testament to the finest in island hospitality. Perched quietly above Ardminish Bay, the Hotel offers everyone unsurpassed views of the beauty of Kintyre Peninsula and beyond. Whether you are with us for the day or a week, our dedicated staff will always make you feel welcome! So bring your boat, your bikes, your wellies and relax with us. Stop in at the pub and have a drink with us and allow yourself to be inspired by this wonderful hidden gem.

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The Gigha Hotel is a typical island hotel; the perfect balance between local chatter (locals gather in the reception area for tea), cosy public areas (the front room has lovely couches, TV, games and books), outdoor seating area (for when the sun does shine and you want a beer garden) and quirky elements that make it stand out in your memories later in life (the breakfast order process).

Things To Do: Achnamore Gardens

Sir James Horlick acquired the estate in 1944 he wished to establish a garden to grow his more tender Rhododendrons.  He managed this by cutting small clearings in the Ponticum and trees and by 1970 the garden was full and looked magnificent. On his death he left some of his collection to the National Trust for Scotland so that rare species could be propagated and shared with other great gardens.

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If you’re looking for something to do, the community owned and operated gardens deserve a visit – they settle you into that ‘ahhh’ moment I mentioned earlier even more as nothing quite achieves that more than the beauty of nature.

Local Produce: Wee Isle Dairy

Tarbert Farm is a small dairy farm on the Isle of Gigha off the southwest coast of Scotland, run by Emma Rennie Dennis and her brother Mark Rennie, where we milk roughly 60 cows. The herd is predominantly Friesian, with a few Jersey and other breeds. The farm is owned by the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust; Emma & Mark’s parents took on the lease in 1968.

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You can drive by the dairy farm and past the cows that produce the lovely milk and artisan ice-creams by travelling north on the island and over the cattle grids. Similar to organic produce, it’s nice to see the animals frolicking around and playing with each other as it demonstrates a happy life on the island for them. Wee Isle Dairy milk is also one of the only producers these days that you can get the truly traditional ‘cream at the top’ of the milk bottle; extra tasty when mixed in with Scots Oats porridge! Their milk is available from various shops in Argyll (I picked mine up in Furnace local shop), and also in Edinburgh and Crieff now too.

Views: Sunset over Islay and Jura

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Top Tip: The Gigha Hotel is currently running an Itison voucher, so why not take advantage at a discounted rate and go see how great the Isle of Gigha is for yourself?!

Mammy’s Viewpoint:

“Seriously WNTL about The Boathouse and Gigha…fantastic service and fabulous food in a ‘far far better than the Caribbean’ setting. My friend and I, with our four legged friends Cerys (Welsh Terrier) and Nina (German Shepherd) are already planning an island hopping road trip in a converted van and will book in advance for the ferry, camping and the restaurant. We’re taking no chances. Can’t wait to return.

 

Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse, Merchant City #cravingtrunch

“Bohemian joint serving a wide array of creative dishes, home cooked baked beans and coffees.”

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The definition of bohemian means someone or something that is socially unconventional, or I suppose ‘hipster’ could be another descriptive word we could use for the sake of this discussion. Would you attribute this word to Singl-end? I suppose you could at first glance; with their artisan bread collection, gluten-free and vegan options, eclectic menu and high-waisted jean-clad staff. I’m smiling whilst writing this; as I’ve been Direct Messaging @foodnotes_gla on Instagram this morning talking about the occasional attempt we make to try to fit in with the other ‘real’ hipsters in these types of establishments and failing miserably… earning ourselves the self-proclaimed title of ‘fraudulent hipster’. But in actuality, what dictates whether you are or you aren’t? I find a compelling argument that hipster is becoming more mainstream, and thus doesn’t really deserve its bohemian connotations anymore. With the introduction of all the new trendy brunch spots – Pot Luck, Café Strange Brew, Patrick Duck Club and the likes, it’s becoming the norm rather than something on the periphery of convention.

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We visited the Merchant City branch again this morning, as the location of the Garnethill café has always put me off going for some reason. I think people always have personal preferences of what areas of town they like visiting (i.e. I love Merchant City and Finnieston, but I’m quite as keen on West End for example). This generally has nothing to do with the restaurants themselves, but moreso do to with accessibility for me – I find parking easy in Merchant City, and Finnieston is easy for me to get to coming from the North East of Glasgow. It’s these small things that impact the decisions we make, hence why I’m glad they opened the café on John Street.

31924632_10156492083108578_3019538338970337280_n.jpgPictured above: Meaty Baked Eggs

Their menu is slightly different than what is online (simply because I had Croque Monsieur – pictured below – on our first visit and you can’t see that option online), but the majority of dishes are the same. They also generally have a specials clipboard featuring their Daily Soup and Salad options, Main Dishes and special Omelette. Importantly… even at 10am they serve ALL menu options; even those under the ‘Lunch’ heading, or any of the ‘Main Dishes’ from the specials, which is ideal if you’re more of a ‘full meal’, rather than breakfast kinda person at McDonalds (who even likes the McMuffin’s anyway?!) If you like a myriad of flavours being offered as a supplementary taste sensation over and above your typically classic dishes, then this is a place for you (pictured below – Singl-end Eggs Florentine). I love when chefs take time to really enhance flavour in their dishes, as their passion really does end up on the plate, which inevitably is what draws in the droves of customers in their masses. The fresh baked goods and fresh bread on display as soon as you enter through their doors is a smart marketing ploy, but equally effective in encouraging people to wait for a table (as you can’t book).

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Service is typical of a generally busy café; they’re polite and efficient but often don’t have the luxury of spending too much time building rapport with tables, as otherwise service would suffer. Although I did have a nice conversation with a waitress upstairs today just before I left, which always personalises the experience and encourages you to return somewhere, in my opinion. Having been a waitress myself for a significant number of years, good customer service is one of those elements of eating out that really impresses me, but you also need to take all factors into consideration when reviewing it (i.e. how quiet/busy, informal/formal or staff levels), however regardless of all that – politeness and efficiency are admirable qualities to aspire to.

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Their seemingly hand crafted table tops with old letters and stamps preserved in time for you to peruse over your baked eggs is pleasing, fun and provides a great backdrop for any pictures. I also like their island and Scottish maps up on the walls upstairs, as quite ironically I noticed the Islay map whilst on the phone to a Water Operator on Islay dealing with critical water tank levels due to a Whisky festival going on this weekend (the joys of being on Operational Stand-By…). So I suppose with the funky interior décor, there is the opposing argument for hipster status once again. But dare I say it… they haven’t caught onto the paper straw movement yet (much to my fiancés delight), so maybe it’s time we all admitted that this is simply our current trend, or dare I say ‘fad’ indulgence, for brunch these days? And they needn’t be scared of dropping the ‘bohemian’ tagline in favour of advertising themselves as leading ‘trunch’ providers (that’s trendy brunch FYI), as if I learned anything at my last creative thinking seminar, it’s that a newly created word can draw a loyal audience that transcends even the quality of the item (e.g. Cronut). But I’ll leave you with that for now, as I never professed to be a marketing genius and they’ve pretty much got brunch on lockdown anyway, so that’s a wrap folks!

33576434_10156545699283578_6783485336010883072_nPictured above: Meaty Breakfast (with substitution of vegetarian haggis instead of black pudding)

Top Tip: visit the John Street (Merchant City) branch if you want somewhere handy for parking, and be prepared to wait for a table if you’re going at busy times!

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Salmon Stack

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Altamurra Toast with scrambled eggs & veggie haggis (amazing!)