This weekend has been something of a gastronomic odyssey. From Friday evening to Tuesday morning, I had two dining companions in the shape of my parents. As they were on holiday, they were on a mission to dine like some sort of aristocracy. And so we did!
I’d already eaten dinner by the time the folks rocked up in Glasgow, and as it was late, they weren’t wanting anything vastly substantial. Therefore, we ended up in The Salon (formerly Gong, just off Byres Road in the West End) ordering a selection of tasty-sounding nibbles off their bar menu – goat’s cheese crostini, seafood salad, feta and olives, that sort of thing. When the dishes arrived, they were utterly tiny for their size and menu description. The goats cheese crostini surprised me especially, as it turned out to be a single, soggy crostino suffocating under a big round chunk of goats cheese (Watch out for the goats cheese – it will turn out to be a theme for the weekend) but my parents seemed happy enough. I’ve eaten at the Salon before, and both times now
Worthwhility: 5/10. It was alright, but food doesn’t back up the cost or pretentiousness factor.
Saturday Lunchtime: The 13th Note
While out shopping, we stopped for some lunch at The 13th Note, a noted gig venue and vegetarian food provider of great repute. We ordered a varied selection of foccacia-based pizzas and some of the legendary spicy chips, which arrived in good time accompanied by lots of salsas, salad and tea. The pizzas were incredibly tasty, and I don’t think my dad (a confirmed meat eater) was even bothered that no animals were harmed in the making of his lunch. I’ve never been disappointed with the 13th Note – everything I’ve ever had there has been a winning combination of awesome and wholesome.
Worthwhility: 10/10. If I’m in town and want to stop for lunch, it’s the first place I think of.
Saturday Evening: The Brasserie at Oran Mor
I’ve eaten at this place before, but I wasn’t sure how the menu would work with my new vegetarian lifestyle. Luckily, there was a lovely starter of pear and stilton rocket salad for me which was really very nice, while my parents had chicken and sundried tomato terrine, as recommended by the friendly and attractive waitress (an advantage that Oran Mor is multiply blessed with). Mainswise, I had a goats cheese filo parcel thing with roasted vegetables which was tasty, but I thought lacked imagination. There’s so much more to vegetarian food than goats cheese and roasted bloody Mediterranean veg. My parent’s dishes of lamb and beef looked much more thought through, even though I can’t actually remember what was going on with them, other than my mum’s dish came with some lovely baby pak choi.
For dessert, we ordered creme brulee which purported to be enhanced with Tia Maria, but was actually flavoured with delicious and surprising ginger, and a lovely apple pie thing.
All in all, very good stuff. I’m looking forwards to my work’s Christmas lunch, which is going to be held there in December.
Worthwhility: 8/10. Nice, but could do with a bit of a shakeup on the veggie side.
Sunday Lunch: Bar Gandolfi
Cafe Gandolfi has always piqued my interest. It’s in the Merchant’s City, it’s hiding behind a very discreet dark green facade and you see lots of very smart looking families disappearing through the antique revolving door. I resolved to take my parents there in order to sample the foody goodness within, and found a very smart looking restaurant with incredibly funky wooden tables and a lovely menu. Unfortunately all the tables were already occupied, so we were sent upstairs to the bar part, which served a slightly cut down version of the cafe menu. We ordered a beetroot and gorgonzola risotto, a broccoli and baby potato curry, and cod loin with saffron potato cakes. All arrived looking gorgeous, delicious and rather wholesome – the beetroot had stained the creamy risotto an entertaining shade of Barbie pink, but I found this cute rather than off-putting. Accompanied by the bar’s fine range of European beers, this was an excellent and slightly posh lunch without too painful a pricetag. I’d like to come out here again, but I’d definitely reserve a table.
Worthwhility: 8/10. Go for it. It’s poshlicious.
Three days into our gastronomic tour of Glasgow, I was starting to flag, but my parents were still going strong. Lunch at Brel had serious gastro potential for them, but also chance of respite for me. I went for a goats cheese and pepper sandwich (the sole veggie option) and the leek and potato soup, while my parents had two of the various mussel options – traditional marinere and a saucy spinach/bacon combo. I hadn’t been faced with anyone eating bacon in front of me since I’d quit meat, and I have to admit that the caramelized porky delicious smell nearly made me crack. But I didn’t. I ate up my (slightly thin and disappointing) soup and munched on my extraordinarily substantial sandwich. The mussels were apparently tasty, but looked a bit sad and small, but I suspect this is because they’re locally sourced and that’s just how big they are this time of year.
Worthwhility: 6/10. It’s not bad, it’s very close to work, but I’d probably only clamour to go back if I was eating meat (and specifically mussels) again.
Monday Evening: Cafe Andaluz
Cafe Andaluz was the first place I ate out as a vegetarian – and it was a slightly mysterious cheese filled experience. Every dish was either based around or liberally sprinkled with melted cheese, and it all got to be a bit much by the end. However, this time we were able to select from the wider menu: cous-cous filled aubergine, patatas bravas, manchego tart, moorish monkfish steamed in paper, grilled sea bass, some sort of beefy salad thing. We also had a big vegetable paella, which was very delicious but had a lot of incredibly out-of-season guilt-inducing asparagus through it. Couldn’t they have gone with some delicious wild mushrooms, some marinated artichoke, maybe some fennel? Cafe Andaluz is good, but only if you’re in a small enough group to be able to choose from the full menu.
Worthwhility: 7/10. Good stuff, but with a slightly ‘conveyor belt’ feel.