Inspector Morsel: Glasgow’s Michelin Star-Deserving Restaurants
The elusive Michelin star – an accolade yet to adorn a single of Glasgow’s finest eateries. In a city where the last decade has cemented it as one of the UK’s major food and drink players, this lingering fact increasingly begs the question: what’s the deal, Michelin Guide? Where our eastern counterpart has succeeded several times over (we’re looking at you, Mr Kitchin), Glasgow remains certainly not counting its lucky stars. Alas, we may not be the ones who wield the power to shower the city’s worthiest with the honour, but if we were, there’s no question that these flavoursome four would be the ones who’d be seeing stars in their pies (see what we did there?)
Bilson Eleven, Dennistoun, 10 Annfield Pl, Glasgow, G31 2XQ
East Side fine dining – come at us. Nestled within a 19th-century townhouse – one of the first homes ever constructed in the suburb – Bilson Eleven’s opening has posed the head-scratcher: why has it taken over 200 years for a Michelin star-worthy eatery to make its way to Dennistoun? Dare we say it though, it really is worth the two-century wait. The building itself has been lovingly restored by chef Nick Rietz and family but retains the history of the area to achieve a real sense of place as you enter the tiny abode. Juxtapose this with a healthy dollop of modernity in its array of enticing dishes and intriguing ingredients and you’re onto a surefire winner. The menu screams Scottish fare – a boastful reminder of just how much our land and sea has to offer. Main course highlights include: Salmon with Moules Mariniere as well as Pork Belly and Brown Sauce Cheek – because who loves brown sauce more than the Scots do? What’s more, an extra star is surely deserved for dessert naming conventions; we’d have been mad to let our eyes scan past the Whisky, The Barley, The Drink, The Mac, which turned out to be a plateful of Talisker-set custard, malt barley foam, barley sauce, pepper biscuit, smoked apple and green ginger wine. Crackin’ and bonnie all at once.
One word of warning: if you’re keen on being their guest, you’ll certainly not be pulling up a chair unless you book well in advance. It may be teeny, but this restaurant packs a humongous punch, successfully injecting some much-needed buzz around Dennistoun’s growing food and drink scene.
GlasgowLiving were also at The List’s Eating & Drinking Guide launch midweek where Bilson Eleven won the Best Newcomer award! Well Deserved!
Must eat: Pork Belly and Brown Sauce Cheek
Must drink: Currently BYOB (yaldi!)
Price: £35-£45 (dinner)
Black Dove, Shawlands, 67 Kilmarnock Rd, Glasgow, G41 3YR
If hearing the word ‘deconstructed’ in relation to any sort of dish incites an uncontrollable bout of rage, making you desire to deconstruct the face of the chef who deigned to ruin perfectly good fish pie/spag bol/sushi, PLEASE prepare to reign in your rage and embrace the epitome of food deconstruction on just this one occasion. Believe us, Black Dove’s deconstructed steak pie is one offer you just can’t refuse. Hold on, don’t go thinking that we’re talking about your bog-standard, New Year’s Day steak pie affair. This is true melt-in-the-mouth utopia. An ox-cheek steak pie that you’d trade in your own cheeks for. You can even achieve perfect symmetry and enjoy a deconstructed rhubarb crumble for dessert (ok, we lied, there were two occasions).
If you’re still not convinced by the dismantling of your favourite home-cooked dishes, selecting three or four bites from the small plates menu section will leave you more than pacified. It’s encouraging to see what’s important to the people behind the pantry – seasonality and local produce is clearly high on the agenda, with a beautiful seafood lineup most prominently on offer, from Loch Fyne scallops to white Scottish crab.
As for their award-winning chef ? Well, he’s got to be smiling from cheek to cheek. Black Dove truly stands at Shawlands’ forefront as one of the many gems responsible for bolstering Southside’s increasingly exciting larder!
Must eat: Ox Cheek Steak Pie
Must drink: Espresso Martini
Price: £14-£32 (lunch/dinner)
Ox and Finch, Finneston, 920 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, G3 7TF
Contemporary, relaxed, sharing dining – Ox and Finch’s strapline speaks no untruths, and isn’t it satisfying these days when something really does what’s it says on the tin?
At its core, Ox and Finch conjures (as if by wizardry) a constant stream of tapas-style dishes from the kitchen, almost making you believe that the chefs are literally a team of plate-spinners, twirling hundreds of them just out of sight. The dishes themselves are so indecently good that you’d easily be forgiven for promising your first-born to the head chef in a moment of food ecstasy. It’s recommended to select around six dishes for two, so of course, we ordered eight. Just to be safe. Plus, if we’d taken the time to narrow down our selection, we’d have been at risk of outrunning our reservation time, still undecided which morsels to sacrifice. When we finally got to eat something? The fish and seafood options bragged that elusive ‘freshly caught’ taste, with the skate wing and grilled coley highlights. When it came to meeting the meats, we could have waxed lyrical about the beef carpaccio and pan-fried chicken livers all night. A fantastic asset was a whole menu dedicated entirely to vegetarian options, of which the roast beetroot, whipped feta, toasted seeds and orange blossom dish truly took us by surprise with its earthy, salty, tangy and citrus elements. To finish? We inhaled the blood orange parfait and the coffee and praline millefeuille, rounding off two protruding food babies rather nicely.
So, what do you have to say for yourself, Michelin? It seems a verdict has indeed spoken, with the Guide awarding Ox and Finch the Bib Gourmand (signalling exceptional value for the quality of food), guaranteeing you more Bib for your bob.
What do you say then, fancy going next weekend? Well, you can’t. It’s more likely that we’ll finally get tickets for ‘The Cursed Child’ (parts one AND two) before you manage to secure a table. That is, at any other time other than a Tuesday at 11:49 pm. We jest, but seriously – do put some serious forward planning into this venture; Ox and Finch continues to be a key driving force of the unwavering Finnieston wave, and you don’t want to miss out on the ride.
Must eat: Hogget shoulder, ptitim, tahini yoghurt, pomegranate and rose harissa
Must drink: Must drink: Simply, wine – be sure to get the sommelier’s steer on which to pair perfectly with your food.
Price: £32-£50 (dinner)
The Gannet, Finnieston
1155 Argyle St, Glasgow, G3 8TB
Showered with rosettes not once, twice, but thrice in the form its AA Rosette Award (but sadly thus far never rained upon with stars), this Finnieston phenomenon has been heavily adorned with glowing accolades since its opening in 2013. The menus showcase a true celebration of Scottish produce, with the restaurant letting the seasons (yes, even the Scottish seasons) dictate the dishes, as they well and truly should. The results? A changeable, deliciously surprising selection which boasts ridiculously fresh seafood, meats and vegetarian options. The concept was born when the three founders journeyed to the Hebrides to source produce, meeting along the way: scallop divers, oyster growers, fisherman, smokers, farmers and butchers – only narrowly missing out on completing the collection with a baker and candlestick maker. Not only did this experience determine the restaurant’s name, but menu narratives were set. The proof? Well, it’s in the puddings. And main courses. And starters. Eat your way around Caledonia with bites of Stornoway black pudding scotch duck egg, confit pheasant risotto and wild garlic agnolotti. Don’t stop your tour at dessert either; cheese fiends must dig into a farmhouse selection from George Mewes, and if you’re a sweetness-seeker, the salted caramel fondant served with tonka bean ice cream should do the trick (thought of the day: how did we even have desserts before the global salted caramel awakening?).
Taking a glance at the surroundings, it’s hard to believe that the restaurant is housed in an old tenement building which was derelict for almost a decade The Gannet moved in. Its cosy mezzanine, for example, is the most excellent perch for intimate dining and, of course, people watching. What The Gannet does best, however, is satisfyingly managing to break free of the stuffy confinements of traditionally pretentious fine dining – the atmosphere is relaxed, the lighting soft, and the food enough to satiate the appetite of even the proudest gannet.
Must eat: Inverness red deer, crisp potato, sweet & sour beetroot purée, heritage beets, game sauce.
Must drink: Aviation (the Violette is even hand-spritzed from a tiny bottle onto the cocktail after it’s been made at the bar, with the mixologist leaving the final flourish until they bring it to your table).
Price: £20-£40 (lunch/dinner)
On top of that, Ox and Finch, The Gannet and Black Dove all received ‘Hitlist’ certificates at The List’s Eating & Drinking Guide(these highlight them as among the top places to eat in the city)
***Words By Laura Blackhurst***