Glasgow Gourmet

Join me on my culinary adventure as I work my way around the best eateries in Glasgow… and perhaps even outside Glasgow.


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The Pelican Cafe

Living in the city centre of Glasgow, it feels really refreshing when we explore other parts of Glasgow.  Pelican Cafe is in the west end, right opposite the impressive Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, which we had a nice view of from our window table.  The interior of this restaurant reminds me of a traditional pub (but slightly more upscale), with the bar sitting very prominently in the centre, and dark wood furniture surrounding this.  It’s all very casual and relaxed – I really like it.

Wild Scottish Mushrooms on Toast - £5

Wild Scottish Mushrooms on Toast – £5

I started off with basically mushrooms on toast.  I did not expect such a huge mound of mushrooms to appear in front of me!  It was an extremely generous portion.  There was a nice variety of mushrooms, all very well-cooked and finished off with a drop of cream.  The toast was very soggy in the middle but I am not sure that even the most well-toasted bread could withstand that mushroom mountain without breaking down!  There was so much food on the plate anyway that it gave me a good excuse not to finish everything.

Warm Halloumi and Charred Aubergine Salad - £4.50

Warm Halloumi and Charred Aubergine Salad – £4.50

The Hubby’s halloumi and aubergine salad was very tasty.  Not that the fact that halloumi and aubergine are two of my favourite things makes me biased or anything… the halloumi was still at that gorgeous, soft and not overly chewy consistency, the aubergine was perfectly cooked with a nice smoky flavour, and everything was brought together nicely by the slightly sticky, sweet, citrussy and spicy harrissa and lime dressing.  I kinda wish that I had ordered this instead of the mushrooms, but at the time, I was feeling so hungry that the word “salad” just did not reach out to the greedy part of me!

8oz Popeseye Steak with Goosefat Chips, Baked Portabello Mushroom and Confit Tomato - £15 (Diane sauce - £2)

8oz Popeseye Steak with Goosefat Chips, Baked Portabello Mushroom and Confit Tomato – £15 (Diane sauce – £2)

I quite fancied the venison but the ravenous creature inside of me would not let me order anything other than a steak! Not that the venison would have been a meagre meal but who am I to argue with myself? Of course, the funny thing is that after wolfing down that ginormous portion of mushrooms, I was already half-full so it was just as well that I managed to refrain from ordering a bigger steak!

An additional innards shot

An additional innards shot for those of you who share my love of rare-cooked red meat

The popeseye steak (which I believe is the same as rump steak but thinner) was very flavourful, but not the most tender.  I definitely preferred it to a sirloin, but I think in future I might just stick to the more marbled ribeye.  I can’t deny that it was still a really nice-tasting piece of meat, and cooked medium-rare just as I had asked – I can’t imagine that being a particularly easy task with a thin steak, especially not if a good charred and caramelised crust is to be achieved, which it was here so hat’s off to the chef.  The chips were more like wedges but I can’t complain as they were delicious and really potatoey (yes, I am calling a potato chip “potatoey”.  What a revelation!).  Some could have done with being cut slightly thinner so that they were cooked more in the centre.  Serving the sauce in a Chinese teacup was an interesting idea.

MacDuff's Scottish Handmade Beef Burger with Handcut Chips and Smoked Papriki Aioli - £9.50

MacDuff’s Scottish Handmade Beef Burger with Handcut Chips and Smoked Papriki Aioli – £9.50

I still find it rather amusing that the Hubby often struggles to steer away from a burger (if it is an option) when we go out.  It must be the American in him!  He preferred ketchup to the paprika aioli but I quite enjoyed dunking my chips into it!  The burger was a good, hefty one and still slightly pink inside.

Walnut Apple Crumble with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream - £5

Walnut Apple Crumble with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream – £5

I was stuffed but there was no way that I was leaving without dessert.  It just doesn’t feel right to not finish the meal with something sweet.  We ordered the apple crumble to share, and I wish we hadn’t bothered.  The crumble topping was delicious – crunchy, not too sweet and the walnuts gave it that extra oomph.  Too bad that the apple was way too tart, and while it was bearable eaten with lots of crumble and ice cream, there just wasn’t enough of the latter to help us get through that extremely sour fruit.  Bit of a disappointment.  If the chef had just added more sugar to the apple filling, it would have been a good end to the meal.

We redeemed a Groupon voucher on this visit, which cost £24 for two people to have a starter and main from the main menu plus a drink (including wine, Prosecco, beer or soft drink) each.  There were supplements applicable to certain dishes (such as £8 on the ribeye steak, £10 on the langoustine, and others) but none of the dishes we ordered incurred supplements. So £24 plus £2 for my Diane sauce, £5 for the dessert, totalling a bargain price of £31 plus tip.

Overall, the food was great and I really don’t have any criticism about the service.  Our waitress was friendly but not in-your-face.  We ended up being at the restaurant for over two hours, but the service did not feel slow.  I would be more than happy to return to the Pelican Cafe.  If you want options which are slightly more on the foodie side but you are not in the mood for a fancy, hoity-toity restaurant, this place would be a great choice.

THE PELICAN CAFE 1377 Argyle Street Glasgow G3 8AF www.thepelicancafe.co.uk 0844 573 0670 Opening hours: Mon-Thu: 4pm-Midnight (food until 10pm) Fri-Sat: 12noon-1am (food served until 10pm) Sun:12noon-Midnight (food served until 10pm)

THE PELICAN CAFE
1377 Argyle Street
Glasgow
G3 8AF
http://www.thepelicancafe.co.uk
0844 573 0670
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu: 4pm-Midnight (food until 10pm)
Fri-Sat: 12noon-1am (food served until 10pm)
Sun:12noon-Midnight (food served until 10pm)

The Pelican Cafe on Urbanspoon


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Cail Bruich

Readers of Glasgow Gourmet might remember me raving about our fantastic 4-course taster dinner at Cail Bruich a few months ago.  Well, I thought that I’d up the greed factor and go for the 7-course taster menu on our second visit!

Amuse bouche - blue cheese royale with apple, celery and walnut

Amuse bouche – blue cheese royale with apple, celery and walnut

The classic combination of sweet and slightly sharp green apple, fresh and crunchy celery and earthy, bordering on bitter walnut worked so well against the smooth, rich and creamy blue cheese.  A really good start to help boost my appetite for the rest of the meal.

Parmesan and buttermilk royale, pea and watercress veloute, parmesan sablé

Parmesan and buttermilk royale, pea and watercress velouté, parmesan sablé

The velouté was velvety and fresh-tasting.  I once watched Freaky Eaters and there was a guy who couldn’t eat salad because it “tasted green”.  I laughed at the time but now I totally get what he meant – there are certain foods which can only be described as “green-tasting” and this velouté is one of them! Having the velouté brought out in a separate jug and  poured into our dishes at the table was a nice touch – it avoided the usual messy dish resulting from the soup’s journey from the kitchen to the diner’s table.  The sablé (or biscuit) gave the dish added texture and made the presentation more interesting but other than that, I didn’t think it was anything special.

Crab cannelloni, heritage tomatoes, tomato sorbet, tomato foam, basil oil

Crab cannelloni, heritage tomatoes, tomato sorbet, tomato foam, basil oil

I was thrilled when the second course was brought to us!  The dish was so pretty and colourful, and the crab cannelloni and tomato sorbet sounded very interesting.  It was a shame to discover that neither of these were that impressive in taste.  The cannelloni shell was crisp but the filling was a bit of a let-down.  There was nothing bad about it but nothing particularly redeeming either – it was just some crabmeat, which granted was well-seasoned and tasted fresh from the sea, but because everything else on the plate tasted so summery, I was hoping for something richer to give the dish more balance.  The tomato sorbet was very strange – it was like a ketchup-flavoured slushie and I didn’t enjoy it.  All the different tomatoes were juicy and sweet but by the time I put the third piece in my mouth, I was rather bored.

Foie gras, poached rhubard, pickled rhubarb, shaved ox tongue

Foie gras, poached rhubarb, pickled rhubarb, shaved ox tongue

The foie gras was delicious – rich and creamy, and when eaten with the sharp and sweet rhubarb, formed a delightful mouthful.  It gave the combination that I had been looking for in the crab dish so maybe my telepathic powers are growing stronger! The ox tongue had a wonderfully deep, meaty flavour and I wish there was more of that on the plate.  The addition of gingerbread crumbs gave an extra texture and a sweet, spiciness.

Pan-fried hake, lobster ravioli, artichoke purée

Pan-fried hake, lobster ravioli, artichoke purée

When I heard the words “lobster ravioli”, I was very excited.  I had heard of lobster ravioli many times, but I had never tried it before.  It sounds heavenly to me.  Why did it have to be such a disappointment?  There was one single ravioli on my plate and it didn’t leave me desiring more – that says a lot! I felt that the pasta was too thick and the filling just wasn’t mindblowing.  The hake was cooked well and the artichoke purée was a pleasant, sweet accompaniment.

Fillet of beef, onion purée, braised onion, crispy onion, wild garlic, beef jus

Fillet of beef, onion purée, braised onion, crispy onion, wild garlic, beef jus

As with the meat course we had on the previous visit, the beef was perfect.  Soft and tender to the point that my knife just slid through the fillet as if it was butter.  Absolutely beautiful.  Steak and onion are best friends (it is one of those friendships which will last forever) and having onion in three different forms on the plate was most welcome.

Hay-infused parfait, buttermilk ice cream, blueberries

Hay-infused parfait, buttermilk ice cream, blueberries

Overall, the dessert was pleasant, but not as enjoyable as the chocolate pave we had last time.  The parfait tasted slightly smokey from the hay and the ice-cream had a subtle tang to it.  Blueberries aren’t really my thing (I only really like them in muffins) so I didn’t think much of these.  The honeycomb was good and gave the dish some crunch, but I can’t say that it was anything amazing.

Dark chocolate with chilli and milk chocolate with honey truffle

Dark chocolate with chilli and milk chocolate with honey truffle

The meal was finished off with some coffee and really nice homemade chocolate.  I have always liked chilli in chocolate and these ones had just enough chilli to add a good kick and heat to the back of the throat.  The honey truffle was heavenly, and even the Hubby who is not normally a fan of honey thought that these were tasty.

Although the meal as a whole was not as good as the one we had before, it hasn’t put us off going again in the future.  With a taster menu, there is always a risk of there being dishes which aren’t to your liking, and that risk is probably increased with the number of courses you have.  The 7-course meal (including a glass of champagne each) cost us £69 with an ITISON voucher instead of £116, and although I do think that it’s a good deal, I did not make a repeat purchase when the deal ran again.  That is not to say that I don’t want to eat at Cail Bruich again – while I did enjoy the taster menu experience of not knowing what would land in front of me, I would prefer to just order what I want from the menu and I’d be happy to pay full price to do that at a restaurant like Cail Bruich.

For the restaurant’s contact details and opening hours (and photos of more delicious food!), please check out my previous post.

Cail Bruich West on Urbanspoon


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Giveaway!

Glasgow Gourmet is running its first giveaway!  The winner will enjoy a three-course meal for two people at Urban Bar & Brasserie.  To enter, all you need to do is:- 

  1. LIKE my Facebook page (if you haven’t liked it already)
  2. LIKE the Facebook post on the giveaway
  3. SHARE the Facebook post on the giveaway

 It’s as simple as that!  For the rest of the details on when the cut-off is and when the winner will be announced, visit my Facebook page!


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Urban Bar & Brasserie

If you like what you see in this post, check out the giveaway I am running for two people to enjoy the same three-course meal that we had! (Well, not exactly the same… you can choose whatever you like, but if you have good taste, you will pick the same dishes as us!)

Urban Bar & Brasserie is inside a beautiful building – the interior is not really anything special but the exterior is architecturally pleasing to the eye (says someone who knows nothing about architecture and can only give comments along the lines of “that’s very pretty” or “that’s a bit ugly”!).

The style of dining is somewhere between casual and fine.  What I found quite amusing was that the servers were what you would expect from a fine dining restaurant (crisp white shirts, immaculate long white aprons, good posture) but their mannerisms didn’t quite match that.  Don’t get me wrong, in no way were they rude or unfriendly – just  very rough and ready!  One server sounded kinda gruff (but not unpleasant) and wouldn’t have been out of place in a fish and chip shop!

Soup du jour - Pea and Ham - with homemade bread

Soup du jour – Pea and Ham – with homemade bread

We had the Summer/Autumn Menu which didn’t have a great number of choices in terms of starters, and the Hubby was a bit limited in that he’s not a big fan of chicken liver parfait or fish, so he went for the soup of the day which was pea and ham.  It was decent but nothing amazing.  I quite enjoy pea-based soups when they are light and the peas haven’t been overcooked so you still get that very fresh taste and vivid green colour, but this one was more like a broth which had been cooked for a while, so it didn’t taste particularly “green” (which I guess some people prefer).  The bread, I thought, had a slight hint of curry or cumin – nice flavour but the texture wasn’t that great.

Smoked mackerel spread with Thai jelly, citrus creme fraiche and microherbs

Smoked mackerel spread with Thai jelly, citrus creme fraiche and microherbs

I was originally going to order the chicken liver parfait (which I have had at Urban Bar & Brasserie before and it was very nice) but I was curious about the Thai jelly so I went for the smoked mackerel spread.  Funnily enough, I don’t think there was any Thai jelly on my plate but when the dish arrived, I actually forgot that that was the reason why I had ordered it!  Anyway, despite the lack of the component which had attracted me to the dish in the first place, it was delicious.  Quite a good summery choice with the citrus creme fraiche.  The mackerel spread itself was smooth, light and sweet.

Michael's Scotch beef burger with mature cheddar, cucumber relish and chips

Michael’s Scotch beef burger with mature cheddar, cucumber relish and chips

The Hubby’s burger was good, but maybe a little on the small side.  The star may have been the amazing chips.  The epitome of the perfect, heavenly chip – crispy coating encasing light and fluffy potato.  I would go back just for the chips!  The relish, which we didn’t realise was cucumber, resembled more of a chilli and tomato relish.  Not that it mattered as it was very tasty all the same!

Crab and prawn linguine with citrus oil, chilli and rocket

Crab and prawn linguine with citrus oil, chilli and rocket

I had my eye on the crisp-fried fillet of bream with gem lettuce, watercress, goat’s cheese, watermelon and basil, but they were out of that, so I went for the other seafood option which was the crab and prawn linguine.  There was a third seafood option of Cajun-spiced fillet of hake with fettuccine, honey and ginger cream, which sounds like it might be nice, but Cajun spices could go either way for me so I decided to skip it.  My dish had an abundance of prawns, and probably crab too, but the latter wasn’t as obvious because most of it had disntegrated through over-tossing I suspect.  There wasn’t so much of a sauce as the cooking juices (which I generally prefer) which tasted fresh and citrussy with a good kick from the chillies.  The pasta itself was cooked al dente but it tasted just like normal, dried pasta which I would cook at home so it was nothing amazing.  Definitely nowhere near as good as the crab linguine from Blythswood Square.

Strawberries with vanilla ice cream and mint syrup (and in the background, today's ice-cream - honeycomb - with chocolate sauce)

Strawberries with vanilla ice cream and mint syrup (and in the background, today’s ice-cream – honeycomb – with chocolate sauce)

For dessert, we went with the classic strawberries and ice cream combo, with the addition of mint syrup which wasn’t apparent with every bite but it was definitely there.  The honeycomb ice-cream had a nice butterscotch flavour and crunchy honeycomb bits throughout – I do rather enjoy ice-cream which contains lots of “bits” for that added texture.  Both desserts were good, but not indusive of that “Mmmm…” moment which comes with the ultimate dessert.  You know what I’m talking about.

Overall, the meal was enjoyable but nothing that I would crave for again or rave to friends about (other than those chips!).  Then again, it did only cost us £20 in total for two people (plus drinks and tip on top) so there’s no way I can complain about that.  The 5pm Big Deal which we redeemed on this occasion is running again and although the meal wasn’t mind-blowing, I have purchased this again.  £10 for three courses each really is a good bargain, and if I were to have a Whopper Meal from Burger King, that would cost more than a fiver (granted that you also get a drink included in that price) so you’re talking only an extra few pounds for a starter and dessert, in a decent restaurant.  It makes perfect sense to me.  (But I must admit that there are days when I would rather have a Whopper Meal to take away and eat on the sofa in front of the TV!)

URBAN BAR & BRASSERIE 23/25 St Vincent Street Glasgow G1 2DT http://www.urbanbrasserie.co.uk/ 0141 248 5636 Opening hours: Mon–Thu: 12noon–10pm Fri/Sat: 12noon–10.30pm Sun: 12.30–10pm

URBAN BAR & BRASSERIE
23/25 St Vincent Street
Glasgow
G1 2DT
http://www.urbanbrasserie.co.uk/
0141 248 5636
Opening hours:
Mon–Thu: 12noon–10pm
Fri/Sat: 12noon–10.30pm
Sun: 12.30–10pm


Urban Bar and Brasserie on Urbanspoon


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Hotel Du Vin Bistro

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The last time I ate at Hotel Du Vin (or One Devonshire Gardens as it used to be called) was at least 6 years ago. The restaurant at the time was, I think, called Room and I remember it being one of my first fine dining experiences! Being the poor student that I was, I was very impressed and felt extremely grown up sitting in the fancy restaurant, with the impeccably-presented plates of food placed before my lit-up eyes!  Nowadays, I’m a little more used to dining out but the Bistro at Hotel Du Vin still had a very posh feel to me.

Surprise surprise, we were armed with a special deals voucher which only set us back £39.50 (instead of up to £79) for the Hubby and I to have a 4-course champagne lunch.  The price did seem steeper than what we would normally pay for a discounted deal but I had a feeling that it would be worth it.  And what do you know – it was well worth it!  The food was absolutely fantastic. (And to my delight, 5pm are running this deal again today, which I quickly snatched up within 2 minutes of receiving the email!)

Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt crust

Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt crust

It is generally very common for there to be complimentary bread on offer so I don’t tend to bother writing about it in my posts all the time… BUT the focaccia we were given was amazing!  Just the right balance of softness and chewiness, but what made it was the crust!  That heavenly herby and salty crust!  I could have eaten the entire basket of bread, but then the other diners might not have been too pleased with me and I would have been too full to eat my actual meal… first world problem…!  I really hope they have the same bread on our next visit…

Rabbit - Cold ballotine of French rabbit, sweet mustard dressing

Rabbit – Cold ballotine of French rabbit, sweet mustard dressing

The Hubby started with the rabbit – very nicely presented with the “steps” and tasted delicious.  You can see from the photo that the ballotine had both a coarse and smooth texture.  The sharp, grainy mustard dressing did a really good job of bringing out the sweet flavour of the rabbit.

Black pudding - Tian of Dingwall black pudding, corrie mains poached egg, Dijon foam

Black pudding – Tian of Dingwall black pudding, corrie mains poached egg, Dijon foam

My starter tasted so good – rich and crumbly black pudding (love love love black pudding!), perfectly poached egg and a very nicely cooked buttery potato fondant, all balanced nicely with a slightly tangy Dijon foam.

Pork - Assiette of rare breed Cairnhill pork, oriental style

Pork – Assiette of rare breed Cairnhill pork, oriental style

The Hubby’s pork dish was not what we had expected! The “oriental style” description on the menu made me think of a Chinese roast pork with a sticky glaze… I must admit that I didn’t know the exact meaning of “assiette”, and having it looked it up now (a prepared dish of food, French for “plate, course of a meal”), it seems like a pretty pointless, fancy word to me.  The different cuts of pork (belly, ribs and something else…) were cooked very well, and the addition of slithers of crispy crackling was a nice touch, but I could see that the Hubby was struggling a little to eat his slippery noodles with his fork and spoon.  The broth, if I recall correctly, had some Thai flavours going on.

Lamb - Roasted rump of Dornach lamb, coco bean ragout, pine nut, black olive

Lamb – Roasted rump of Dornach lamb, coco bean ragout, pine nut, black olive

The lamb was outstanding.  I think it was the best lamb I have ever had – really succulent, well-seasoned and almost melt-in-your-mouth tender.  I almost chose the fish dish (chargrilled plaice with brown butter sauce and steamed potatoes) because I’m generally not a huge fans of beans, but the coco bean ragout actually turned out to be delicious and complimented the lamb really well.  The bits of olive added a nice contrasting slight bitterness and saltiness, but I’m not sure that the 8 (!!) pinenuts contributed very much!  There was a puree of some sort on the plate, and at the time, I remember tasting it, saying to the Hubby, “Ah, that’s [insert vegetable]” and thinking to myself, “How impressive are my tastebuds?”  Well… now I cannot remember what it was! It was quite sweet, but it definitely wasn’t artichoke… it might have been parsnip but for some reason, I’m thinking that it might have been something less common… yes, this is incredibly useful information which you will not get anywhere else…

Lemon sorbet

Lemon sorbet

The third course came in the form of a palate-cleansing lemon sorbet.  Very refreshing, with a citrussy punch.

Toffee - sticky toffee pudding, clotted cream

Toffee – sticky toffee pudding, clotted cream

For dessert, the Hubby chose the sticky toffee pudding which was good but it didn’t stand out as being the best that I’ve tasted.  The sponge was bordering on the firm side (which I don’t mind) and the sauce was not too sickly.

Raspberry - Perthshire raspberry ripple cream

Raspberry – Perthshire raspberry ripple cream

The other two options were the cheese board or raspberry ripple cream, so I went for the latter.  I do like cheese but I always feel that a meal should be finished off with something sweet.  The raspberry dessert was simple, but at the same time, quite indulgent.  Creamy, fruity… what else do you want on a summer’s day?

We were also told that there was a selection of ice creams on offer, including vanilla, strawberry, pistachio and bacon.  Bacon?!  I had to try it!  The only other time I have heard of this crazy combination is from Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck menu which at one point included a bacon and egg ice cream.  I have not been lucky enough to dine at the Fat Duck so I couldn’t let this opportunity of tasting bacon ice cream slip away!  I am glad that we decided to try it, but it is not something that I would have again.  I have had my fair share of interesting ice cream flavours, but for me, bacon does not work.  Strangely, it tasted like cheese – a cold, smokey, sweet and creamy cheese.  It just tasted wrong.

Green tea - moist green tea sponge, jasmine tea sorbet

Green tea – moist green tea sponge, jasmine tea sorbet

We actually ended up with not three, but four desserts!  Just before our waitress set down our desserts at our table, she told us that the kitchen had made an extra dessert by mistake and asked us if we would like to have it (at no additional charge, of course).  This was not on the lunch menu we ordered from, but if it had been, I have no doubt that I would have went for it as I tend to be very drawn to dishes involving green tea.  Having said that though, I actually preferred the raspberry dessert so I’m glad that I wasn’t given the option of being able to order the green tea one.  The sponge was uninspriring, but the jasmine tea sorbet is something I’d definitely have again  – refreshing with a subtle floral hint in the background.

The service was very good to begin with and our server was attentive and friendly.  Disappointingly, we struggled to get her attention to ask for the bill.  Nothing major enough to ruin our experience or to stop us from going back, but it was a shame that our lunch didn’t end on a high.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro One Devonshire Gardens Glasgow G12 0UX 084473 64256 http://www.hotelduvin.com/locations/glasgow/bistro/ Opening hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri: 7-10am Sat-Sun (and Bank Holidays): 8-11am Lunch Mon-Sat: 12noon-2.30pm Sun: 12.30-4pm Dinner Mon-Thu: 5.30- 10pm Fri-Sat: 5.30-10.30pm Sun: 6 -9.30pm

HOTEL DU VIN & BISTRO
One Devonshire Gardens
Glasgow
G12 0UX
084473 64256
http://www.hotelduvin.com/locations/glasgow/bistro/
Opening hours:
Breakfast
Mon-Fri: 7-10am
Sat-Sun (and Bank Holidays): 8-11am
Lunch
Mon-Sat: 12noon-2.30pm
Sun: 12.30-4pm
Dinner
Mon-Thu: 5.30- 10pm
Fri-Sat: 5.30-10.30pm
Sun: 6 -9.30pm

Hotel Du Vin on Urbanspoon


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The Living Room

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Bar area

Glasgow Gourmet is no newbie to The Living Room (and I have already blogged about it here) but I was rather looking forward to go try their new Spring/Summer Menu which has the promotional tagline “Eat With Your Eyes”.  AND they are offering 50% off the food and a selection of classic cocktails!  The frozen strawberry daiquiri was the perfect summer drink! (The Living Room Glasgow’s Facebook page mentions that this offer is only available to Robbie fans and that you need to show your ticket stub – this isn’t the case; simply phone to book and bring yourself, no Robbie ticket required!)

Strawberry Daiquiri - Bacardi Superior rum, shaken with fresh strawberries, lime and sugar - £7

Strawberry Daiquiri – Bacardi Superior rum, shaken with fresh strawberries, lime and sugar – £7

I like that there are no “starters” as such on the new menu, but so-called “grazers” instead.  This gives off more of a tapas concept and invites you to order a few grazers rather than the conventional starter and main course.

Having said that, my traditional Hubby wanted to order a grazer to start and a “bread + butter” for his main course, so rather than dine tapas-style, I ordered one grazer as my starter and two grazers for my main course.

Scallop Taster - £10

Scallop Taster – Thai bisque; wakame, sesame and soy salad; scallop ceviche – £10

The waitress advised me to eat the scallops from left to right – so it was the scallop in a Thai bisque to begin with, followed by the scallop on a bed of wakame, sesame and soy salad, and finished off with the scallop ceviche.  Overall, the scallops in the first two plates were overcooked but I will give the chef the benefit of the doubt and put this down to the additional “cooking” time while I took  photographs of the dish.  The Thai bisque was full of flavour with a nice touch of heat but not too much.  I enjoyed the salad in the second plate which was fresh and had a Japanese feel to it.  After eating a couple of slightly rubbery scallops, I was really looking forward to trying the scallop ceviche.  While the scallop was soft and silky (as you would expect from a scallop which hasn’t been near any heat, but merely “cooked” in the acidic marinade), it had no sweetness to it.  I don’t know if this was related to the scallop itself or the relatively overpowering citrus and chilli marinade (which granted was very tasty and refreshing).  Overall, this was just an average dish which I was happy to pay £5 for, but it certainly does not deserve the full price.  Even at the half-price, I’m not sure that I would order it again.

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The new menu has an aim of “enhancing the presentation of dishes and encouraging more engagement with food”.  I could see this in the latter in the Hubby’s starter which arrived in a cardboard takeout box.  While I can understand that some people might find this tacky (and I admit that the terrible photo does make it look naff!), I rather liked the retro presentation!  The chicken wings had a crispy coating and lovely, moist meat, but it could have done with more seasoning.  It wasn’t a big deal though as the accompanying ginger and chilli dressing and BBQ sauce (which tasted more like a fruity relish of some sort) worked a treat.  The portion size, with their being only four small wings, was maybe bordering on the mean side (and the Hubby was rather disappointed when he opened the box).

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TLR Scampi - £7.50

TLR Scampi – monkfish and prawn croquettes with preserved lemon tartare – £7.50

As with the fried chicken, I loved the way the scampi was presented.  The cutest little wooden peg attached the scampi label to the brown paper bag, not to mention the adorable mini beer glass!  (Please don’t judge me for taking the peg home with me – at least I didn’t steal the beer glass!) I later realised that the scampi are described on the menu as “monkfish and prawn croquettes” but there didn’t appear to be any mashed potato in the “croquettes”.  Simply lots of fresh seafood resulting in a nice taste of the sea and bouncy texture.  The coating was beautifully crunchy.  I enjoyed the additional of preserved lemons in the tartare sauce, but I also dipped my croquettes into the Hubby’s ketchup when he wasn’t looking!

Bury Black Pudding Donuts - £5.50

Bury Black Pudding Donuts – with celeriac remoulade – £5.50

I love black pudding and the idea of it being in the form of a donut sounded very intriguing to me!  I had to have it, and it did not disappoint!  The donuts had a very thin crispy outer layer, and inside was soft and fluffy with a good amount of black pudding.  Eaten together with the crunchy remoulade and slightly sharp tomato relish, it formed a well-balanced mouthful.

Pulled Pork Sandwich - £9

Pulled Pork Sandwich – with apple chutney on brioche bun, served with French fries – £9

The pork in the Hubby’s sandwich was pretty dry, but the tasty relish helped moisten things up a bit.  The brioche bun did a good job of holding everything together and not disintegrating into a big mess, which burger buns often do.  Not a great dish but for £4.50, it was hard to complain. 

Chocolate Pave - £5.00

Chocolate Pave – with peanut powder, salted caramel ice cream – £5.00

When I see the words “salted caramel”, I will naturally gravitate towards whatever dessert option includes that ingredient, no matter how small that component might be.  So although I wouldn”t normally lean towards the chocolate options on a dessert menu, I had to have the chocolate pave which came with peanut powder and salted caramel ice cream.  And what do you know?  I wasn’t a huge fan of the rich and sickly chocolate pave, but was won over by the savoury peanut powder (which resembled peanut butter but in a fine crumble form) and the irresistable salted caramel ice cream.  I would be quite happy with just those two things on the plate!

Hot Chocolate Fondant - £5.00

Hot Chocolate Fondant – with toasted coconut ice cream – £5.00

I must say that I didn’t rate the tea-cup presentation.  With the fondant contained inside a cup, I wasn’t able to do what I normally love doing to a fondant, which is to break it open with my fork and let the molten chocolate run out onto the pristine white plate.   Though even if this chocolate fondant had been turned out onto a plate, I wouldn’t have had my usual satisfaction anyway because it was overcooked.  A real shame because the flavour was perfect and the accompanying toasted coconut ice cream worked wonders.  In fact, the ice cream was so good that I asked for more (and was charged an additional £1.20). Funnily enough, I thought that the ice cream in both desserts stole the limelight from the main star of the plate.

Unlike our last visit, this time we didn’t have any issues with the speed or service.  Then again, it wasn’t particularly busy and you can see below that I managed to take a photo of half of the restaurant without a single soul in sight.  On the whole, the food was just slightly above average, but at 50% off (which will be running for the rest of June and also through the month of July), I will likely go back to try some of the other dishes on their new menu.  Our bill came to £32.45.  For three courses and a cocktail each, I would say that was an absolute steal!  The Living Room is definitely by no means the place to go if what you are after is gastronomy, but it is a comfortable place with nice surroundings and a menu which should suit most people.

THE LIVING ROOM 150 St Vincent Street Glasgow G2 5NE 0141 229 0607 http://www.thelivingroom.co.uk/location/glasgow

THE LIVING ROOM
150 St Vincent Street
Glasgow
G2 5NE
0141 229 0607
http://www.thelivingroom.co.uk/location/glasgow
Opening hours:
Mon-Wed: 11am – Midnight
Thu: 11am-1am
Fri-Sat: 11am-3am
Sun: 12noon – 2am


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The Cruin

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Dining at the Cruin was a nice treat because, as strange as it sounds, I am never really sure of when this place is open! There was one summer when the Hubby and I would come here for dinner on those rare sunny evenings (we are talking about Scotland here!) after I finished work.  With it being right by Loch Lomond, it was the perfect place to enjoy the pleasant weather.  Then it seemed that for a while after that, the Cruin was only open at the weekend.  Now, when you check their website, there is a “Private Dining” link and a “Sunday Lunch” link, and when you click on the latter, specific dates on which they serve the Sunday Lunch are listed.  The Cruin is a wedding venue so I suspect that they only open to the public when they’re not booked for a wedding.  Luckily, one of the available dates was my birthday so we made the 35-minute journey to the Cruin for lunch.

Loch Lomond ale battered haggis with Drambuie mayonnaise and house salad

Loch Lomond ale battered haggis with Drambuie mayonnaise and house salad

I love haggis but I don’t enjoy it as much when the flavour is overly strong and the consistency is too soft and bordering on mushy.  The haggis in my starter was just the way I like it – rich and crumbly, with a little bit of bite and coated in super crispy batter.  You could definitely taste the whisky in the mayonnaise but it wasn’t overpowering and in fact, gave off a lovely sharp, sweetness.  It worked really well with balancing and cutting the richness of the haggis.

Soup of the day - ham hock and lentil

Soup of the day – ham hock and lentil

The Hubby went for the hearty soup which had a good chunky homemade feel to it.  It was a good, comforting soup but nothing really stood out about it.

12-hour Loch Lomond ale braised beef with peppercorn sauce, mashed potato, roasted vegetables and parsnip crisps

12-hour Loch Lomond ale braised beef with peppercorn sauce, mashed potato, roasted vegetables and parsnip crisps

I was going to go for the beef but the Hubby and I generally try not to order the same dish as each other, so being the considerate wife that I am (and without an ounce to do with the fact that I was eyeing up the salmon as well anyway!), I let him have the beef.  What a mistake!  This dish was fantastic!  The beef was falling-off-the-fork tender, the mash was smooth and the roast carrots were sweet and juicy.  The gravy was so delicious that I almost had to restrain the Hubby from licking his plate! The only let-down was the parsnip crisps which only met half of their description in being crispy, but they had very little parsnip flavour.

Pan-fried salmon with carrot purée, asparagus spears, roasted new potatoes and sautéed potatoes

Pan-fried salmon with carrot purée, asparagus spears, roasted new potatoes and sautéed potatoes

The salmon had perfectly crispy skin but unfortunately, perhaps the time it took to create this caused the fish itself to be slightly overcooked and dry – at least to my taste anyway, as I do prefer my salmon to be just on the undercooked side.  The asparagus was nicely cooked with just enough crunch and the carrot purée was smooth and sweet.  When I read the menu, I thought that the inclusion of two types of potatoes was a mistake but nope – there were indeed both roasted and sautéed potatoes on my plate!  The sautéed ones were a little on the soggy and oily side, but the roasters were delicious – fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside!

Chocolate truffle torte, praline paste and chocolate ice cream

Chocolate truffle torte, praline paste and chocolate ice cream

I must say that while I do like chocolate (and occasionally, I feel the need for an emergency chocolate fix!), I am not normally drawn to a chocolate dessert when I see it on a menu.  I find that after a couple of bites, it gets too sickly for me.  The Hubby, on the other hand, can rarely resist the chocolate options on the list of desserts!  This is great for me because I get to have my fix from one or two bites (usually one before he scoffs the whole lot!) of his dessert and I get to order something different for myself.  The Cruin’s torte was very rich but not too sweet, and it had a beautiful smooth and luxurious texture.

Pistachio ice cream, butterscotch sauce, flapjack pieces and raspberry coulis

Pistachio ice cream, butterscotch sauce, flapjack pieces and raspberry coulis

I was so pleased when I saw pistachio ice cream on the menu!  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the idea of pistachio ice cream is always much better in my head, and similar to almonds, I love pistachio nuts (once I start, I can’t stop!) but pistachio-flavoured foods are a different matter.  They just don’t resemble the real thing.  My dessert was fine but I think that because I had such high expectations, it ended up being a bit of a disappointment.  Also, I really dislike desserts being served in tall sundae glasses because I can’t stand having to almost eat the different components layer by layer.  At least the Hubby enjoyed my dessert – he thought that the raspberry coulis worked really well with the ice cream.  The flapjack, butterscotch sauce, and what I presume to be shop-bought chocolate wafers were nothing special.

If you get the chance, the Cruin is well worth a visit.  On top of the generally very good food, it has beautiful surroundings and the restaurant itself has a warm, rustic feel to it.  The service was good, and although we have in the past had food served to us extremely slowly, this was definitely not the case on this occasion.  It probably had something to do with the fact that when we arrived, there were only two other tables of guests in the restaurant, but after our starters, the place started to really fill up.  The Sunday Lunch is a set menu with 8 or 9 different choices for each of the starter and main courses, and 6 dessert choices.  Two courses will cost you £18, and an additional course is only £2 extra.

THE CRUIN Loch Lomond Castle Estates Arden Loch Lomond G83 8RB 01389 850263 or 01389 850588 http://www.thecruin.com/

THE CRUIN
Loch Lomond Castle Estates
Arden
Loch Lomond
G83 8RB
01389 850263 or 01389 850588
http://www.thecruin.com/

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