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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gleneagles

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

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Lauren of @laurenscravings

Gleneagles @thegleneagleshotel

Website: https://www.gleneagles.com/

Address: The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF

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

Lauren Explains Why: in her blog post here

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

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


St Andrews

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

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Natalie of @stravaiginscotland

Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar @tailendstandrews

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

Address: 130 Market St, St Andrews KY16 9PD

Travel: 1 hr 35 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kelso

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

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The Wee Food Blogger of @the_wee_food_blogger

Cobbles @cobbleskelso

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Crieff

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

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Savannah of @savannahsweeney

Yann’s at Gleanearn House, Crieff

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

Address: Perth Rd, Crieff PH7 3EQ

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

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

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

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

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

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


Muthill, Perthshire

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

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Mel of @melsalwayshungry

Barley Bree

Website: http://barleybree.com/

Address: 6 Willoughby St, Crieff PH5 2AB

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

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

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

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

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


Lochearnhead / Callander

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

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

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Rebecca of @rebeccacooks_

MHOR 84

Website: http://mhor84.net/

Address: 84 Kingshouse, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead FK19 8NY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Blair Atholl

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

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Claire of @what_claire_didwww.whatclairedid.com

The Loft, Blair Atholl

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

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

Travel: 1 hr 40 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Bistro


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


East Kilbride

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

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Yun Yun of @foodieyunyun

Oiishi @oiishiek

Website: http://oiishi.co.uk/

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

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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


Bothwell

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

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Kirstie of @scottish_food_stories

Plato, Bothwell @platobothwell

Website: http://platobothwell.com/

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

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you’re looking forward to finding out …


Heather Beveridge of @Beveridgebites

Shandon Belles

Address: 650 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8UF

http://twofatladiesrestaurant.com/shandonbelles

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

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

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

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


Evalyn Lee Sullivan of @glasgow_gourmet

Same Same Restaurant / Ka Ka Lok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Emmy Todorova of @foodnotes_gla

Buck’s Bar

Address: 111 W Regent St, Glasgow G2 2RU

http://bucksbar.co.uk/

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

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

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Yun Yun of @foodieyunyun

Loon Fung

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

http://www.loonfungglasgow.com

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

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

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

Sheila Kupsch of @sheila_quite_likes

Loon Fung

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

http://www.loonfungglasgow.com

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

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

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


Bobby of @bitsandbobster

Mora

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

https://morabarandkitchen.com

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

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

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


Amy Glasgow of @theglasgowdiet

Bread Meats Bread

Address: 104 St Vincent St, Glasgow G2 5UB

http://www.breadmeatsbread.com

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

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Shek of @shekness_monster

Nanakusa

Address: 441 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3LG

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

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

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

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

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


Bethany of @glaswegianfoodie

Nippon Kitchen

Address: 91 W George St, Glasgow G2 1PB

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

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

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

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

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

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

bethany


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

Lauren of @laurenscravings

Address: 441 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3LG

http://paesanopizza.co.uk/

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren x

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

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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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!)