“Oh you must try a deep fried Mars Bar…” said basically everyone when I mentioned we were heading to Glasgow for the weekend. Of all the things to recommend to someone, this was the best they could do? Surely Scottish cuisine is more than just a sub-par chocolate bar (let’s all agree that Mars Bars are boring) covered with batter and deep fried? Surely…
It is so much more than a greasy chocolate bar. Of course it is; I’m not really sure what my momentary despair was all about. Logic leaves me sometimes when I’m worried about my next meal. Scotland is known for being home to an incredible range of produce from salmon to beef to black pudding, and perhaps the most famous of them all… haggis! So with my reinvigorated enthusiasm, we set out to try some of the best Scottish cuisine Glasgow has to offer.
The Gannet – Contemporary Cusine
The Gannet’s seasonal menu highlighting Scottish cuisine won me over instantly; with a keen interest in their ingredients and suppliers, this is exactly the kind of establishment we like to support. After discovering the list of accolades under its belt, including a Bib Gourmand and being named AA Restaurant of the Year Scotland 2015/16, it would be an understatement to say that I had high hopes for The Gannet.
The restaurant was heaving when we arrived; the locals must agree with the critics’ assessments because they’re really spoilt for choice on this street alone. To start, I settled on the treacle cured salmon, pickled cucumber and horseradish creme fraiche, while a certain someone went for the far more adventurous Shetland landed squid, confit chicken wing, leek and ink puree, and chicken sauce. While I felt it would have been a crime to visit Scotland and not eat salmon, the dish was pleasant yet predictable – I much preferred the bold flavours of the remarkably tender squid.
I did however manage to even the score with my main of roe deer, crisp potato, poached pear, heritage carrots, cavolo nero, with a port and red wine sauce. Everything about this dish was perfect; the meat was vividly pink, the combination of sweet and savoury notes kept things interesting, while the sauce pulled it all together. A certain someone’s pan fried Scrabster landed cod, spinach, Shetland mussels, potato, and squid ink sauce was faultlessly executed but lacked the excitement of the roe deer.
This was one of those rare occasions where we passed on dessert, there were a few appealing options but we’d already had a few cocktails, a late reservation to begin with, and the service I felt was a touch slow throughout. Not that it would put me off coming again, it’s obvious that The Gannet is really pushing itself to do justice to the fantastic ingredients they have to hand.
The Bothy – Classic Cuisine
Situated in Glasgow’s vibrant West End, the original home of all the places to wine and dine in the city, it was hard to look past The Bothy when we were in search of a more traditional taste of Scotland. My first sight of the staff in kilts threw me; I was worried that The Bothy might descend into that cringeworthy themed restaurant category, but rest assured the food is far from those dire straits.
After a long day of driving through treacherous conditions to visit friends who live further north in the picturesque village of Dunkeld, we were in need of something hearty and didn’t hold back from ordering classic comfort foods. The chicken liver parfait with red onion chutney and oatcakes, and the Highland haggis, neeps and tatties with whiskey sauce, seemed like a fitting way to start. I’m not sure how it’s taken me this long to try haggis, made from a combination of sheep’s pluck, onions, oatmeal, suet and spices, it’s an offal-lover’s dream and something I’ll be eating again whenever I get the chance!
Our mains of pan fried chicken stuffed with Stornoway black pudding, and Lyonnaise potatoes, vine tomatoes, and Madeira cream sauce, and a traditional battered haddock and chips, were equally satisfying. The portions are copious in size and flavour; the chicken in particular had a great richness from the stuffing and sauce which elevated what could have been a lacklustre dish. Fish and chips is not something I normally enjoy so I’m not entirely sure what came over me that evening, but it left me with no regrets. Actually, perhaps one – that I couldn’t finish both fillets.
Unsurprisingly, there was no room left for dessert so languished a little longer to finish our wine before leaving the cosy confines of The Bothy’s good old Scottish hospitality. Looking around the dining room, it was clear that this is the kind of place you come with your friends and family to indulge in an evening of comforting food and company!
So Make A Move
Glasgow is often overlooked as a tourist destination in favour of Edinburgh, but there’s plenty to see and do in this edgy Scottish city. Our road trip to Scotland was really to visit friends, but in between all that catching up and sampling of Scottish cuisine, there were also some sights to be seen too which make it a great weekend getaway destination!
- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has an excellent selection of exhibitions and it’s free!
- If it’s a spot of shopping you’re after, make sure you wander down Buchanan Street which just as well stocked as London’s Oxford Street but far less manic.
- The Gannet, 1155 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TB
- The Bothy, 11 Ruthven Ln, Glasgow G12 9BG
Have you been to Glasgow? Are you a fan of the deep fried Mars Bar or haggis?