The latest addition to Glasgow’s trendy Finnieston area, and already one of the best places to eat in Glasgow, is Alchemilla. It opened late last year and the space is small and minimal with lots of natural wood accented with a burst of orange. Pull up a stool at the counter, or on the mezzanine level, for the best view of the open kitchen where Rosie Healey (ex Ottolenghi and Jago) is at the helm.
The concept here is small sharing plates, although some are larger than others. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect dishes such as light and fresh radicchio and pomegranate salad with wintery depth from gamey pheasant. Pork ragu and oregano pappardelle delivers exactly what you want it to; big, rich flavours with generous chunks of meat slicked over delicate ribbons of pasta. Poussin is accompanied by warming nutmeg, sweet, nutty romesco and salty pancetta, and a stand-out dish of sliced rounds of earthy parsnip is served with sweet jewels of dates and a creamy, tangy yoghurt dressing.
Sister restaurant to firmly established Crabshakk, Table 11 is so-called because its sibling, just a few doors down, has 10 tables. It’s a small, cosy space with lots of wood, chalkboard walls and friendly staff. Sharing plates are also key here: think vivid, charred long-stem broccoli, zingy with lemon and chilli and with a crunch of hazelnuts, melting Iberico pig’s cheek on an apple and celeriac purée, and crab with homemade squid-ink tagliatelle.
The stars, though, are to be found on the specials board, gems like sticky, charred octopus tentacles with hummus, toasted hazelnut and rich merguez-spiced oil.
Looking for an Italian restaurant in Glasgow? For the best pizza, get down to Paesano. The pizza bases here are made using a yeast and sourdough hybrid proofed for over 48 hours before being finished in artisan-built, wood-fired ovens from Naples at 500C to produce a moist, light, soft crust.
There are just eight toppings to choose from (none of which break the £10 mark). Our pick is the Tuscan fennel sausage with tomato sugo, mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil.
It may not be a restaurant, but there’s no way we were leaving out Glasgow’s Tantrum. The brainchild of Iain Baillie (a former pastry chef at The Fat Duck) and his wife, Annika, Tantrum opened the doors to its permanent site in December 2015 and is a short walk from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Fried in rapeseed oil in small batches, the doughnuts are always super-fresh and either filled or topped with homemade custards, fondants and jams; choose from flavours like pistachio custard, chocolate and hazelnut, vanilla crème brûlée or classic raspberry. Grab one to take-away, or settle in with a milkshake or coffee.
Head to Cottonrake coffee bar and bakery on Great Western Road for freshly-baked cakes, muffins and pastries made daily on-site, or something more substantial like a smoked salmon and celeriac remoulade brioche bun, Stornaway black pudding and pork shoulder sausage roll, or cauliflower and comté quiche.
One of the first of a new wave of artisan bakeries to set up shop in a city not afraid to indulge its sweet tooth, this is one of the most inventive. Grab some coffee while you’re there, sourced from Dear Green Coffee, a speciality roaster based in the city dedicated to getting their hands on the very best beans they can (be warned, its Goosedubbs blend is addictively smooth).
Ox & Finch
Another restaurant dedicated to small plates in the Finneston area, Ox and Finch was opened in 2014 by chef Jon MacDonald on the corner of Sauchiehall street. The décor is casual, with lots of timber and tiles and large windows, and the menu is split into six sections: snacks, raw, cured and cold, seafood, meat, vegetables and desserts.
Rich, soft, dry-aged beef carpaccio is served with sharp dwarf peaches, salty pecorino and a crunch of pine nuts while rabbit rillettes is given a Scottish twist with smoky Laphroaig whisky and sweet prune, and warm roasted beetroot is served with creamy whipped feta, pecans and floral orange blossom.
The must-order dish, though, is tender hogget shoulder with ptitim (little Israeli pasta balls), tahini yoghurt, fragrant rose harissa and jewels of juicy pomegranate.
For a blow-out meal in Glasgow, head to the West End and Cail Bruich. Run by brothers Chris (chef-patron) and Paul (front of house) Charalambous, this small but sophisticated neighbourhood restaurant has been a firm favourite on the Glasgow scene since it opened in 2006, thanks to its constantly-evolving seasonal menu showcasing the best of Scotland’s larder.
(photograph Adam Sait)
The tasting menu kicks off with a selection of snacks such as smoked eel and celeriac tart with lovage, savoury chicken-fat doughnuts filled with sweet quince, and sourdough served with pork fat butter and fennel salt and cultured butter with sea salt.
The main event doesn’t disappoint either, with dishes including sea trout, cucumber, kohlrabi and horseradish ‘snow’, earthy smoked celeriac purée with heritage beetroot, sweet fennel oil and a crunch of hazelnut, and beef served charred on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside (we suspect that the Big Green Egg we spied in the open kitchen has something to do with that) with sweet, sticky, fall-apart braised cheek, roast onion and umami marrow sauce. Don’t miss their sharp, hoppy Drygate-brewed house beer, either.
All the cakes, tartlets, scones and croissants at Delizique are made fresh every day and although the team regularly test out new recipes on their loyal regulars, you’ll always find carrot cake, beetroot cake and squidgy hazelnut chocolate brownies on offer.
Pop in for breakfast and you’ll also be able to choose from dishes like halloumi, slow-roast tomato and spinach croissants, the obligatory avo on toast and a selection of pancakes including carrot, walnut and nutmeg, banana and pecan, sweetcorn and spinach and blueberry. Order an extra slice of honey butter if you’re feeling indulgent.
Other restaurants to try in Glasgow
What started as an Italian grocer shop in Glasgow’s East End back in 1975 has grown and expanded with a restaurant/deli in the city’s West End showcasing regional, seasonal dishes, such as burrata, pea gazpacho and vignarola salad.
Eusebi goes to great lengths to source the very best ingredients – tomatoes and herbs from Calabria, flour from Rome, cured meats from Umbria. The pasta is made from scratch daily in the restaurant’s ‘pasta laboratory’ using different flours, including chickpea, chestnut and grano arso (burnt grain).
“We wanted to take the customer out of their comfort zone,” says Giovanna Eusebi. “Italy is more than carbonara and spag bol. Our food is inspired by our Italian grandparents who farmed from land to table.
Our concept was to slow things down and return to our heritage. Food made in factories and sold under the guise of ‘artisan’ just won’t wash anymore. People don’t want watered-down versions of authentic, they want the real deal.” Click here to try Eusebi Deli’s salad recipe at home
Award-winning Glasgow café/bar and music venue Mono celebrated its 15th birthday at the end of 2017, and the team was humbled by the attention the anniversary attracted, according to general manager Ian Crawford, who’s also head honcho of the El Rancho record label.
With a menu including tofu ‘fish’ and chips, jerk-spiced jackfruit burritos and vegan mac ’n’ cheese, all food at Mono is free from animal produce, right down to the raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake.
“From day one, our ethos was, and still is, to promote an alternative choice to a meat and dairy diet without shouting about it or being exclusive,” says Ian. Click here to read about more plant-based restaurants in the UK
Words by Sarah Kingsbury and Mark Taylor. Trains from London Euston to Glasgow Central from £60 return with virgintrains.co.uk. For more information see peoplemakeglasgow.com