My Month In Food – July (Part 2)

Hello and welcome to my second post for July. Last month was all about trying new places popping up in Glasgow and revisiting some of my old favourites that I haven’t yet written about. This post is a bit of a mixed bag of good and not so good… I always love writing about the places that have made an impression on me and I have loved (part of the reason I opened this blog), but I have to remind myself that another reason why I blog is to also share news, impressions and thoughts on all the food I eat – good or bad. So while I don’t enjoy when I have to write a poor ‘review’ it’s part of the reason why I created this whole thing. And, unfortunately, we have a couple of those today…

In Part 2 there is a whole lot more beer featured to my usual food rantings, and you can read about notable beer places Grunting Growler and Six°North. I also popped in to brand new Glasgow restaurant Absurd Bird. And finally, we have two West End spots that have been with us for a while: Kelbourne Saint and Cafe Zique. I’ll start with the good.

Grunting Growler – Finnieston – Craft Beer Shop/Bar

No food to be found in this section, however, very much worth a mention for beer lovers. I’m not particularly crazy about beer and don’t know a thing about craft beers, but I do enjoy drinking them occasionally! I’ve been meaning to stop in this very hipster looking little place for a while and finally did so last month. They offer a really large selection of beers on tap and their fridges are well stocked with a variety of craft beers from around the world. I very much enjoyed giving a few beers a try and also ended up bringing a fair few cans back home. It’s the Grunting Growler where I discovered that I do have a favourite type of beer and that’s a sour. To add to this, the staff are so nice, very helpful and good at offering advice about beer. I’d definitely recommending stopping by this little shop/bar!

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Delicious Cloudwater sour over at Grunting Growler.
  • Good for: Craft beer;
  • ££: Prices of various beers will range, it’s moderately expensive.

Six°North – Partick – Beer & Modern pub food

Six°North is situated in the cusp of Partick and it was very much recommended by friends of mine. We headed there for an impromptu dinner one night and I was very pleasantly surprised by this bar. Offering a modern atmosphere, pleasant ambiance, plenty of beer choice and an extensive food menu – it’s actually a really good spot. While my friends had the fish and chips and cheese croquettes, I opted for the baked Camembert and a side portion of chorizo. The chorizo is really made for sharing and was a bit much for me just on it’s own – quite heavy and salty (as it should be, just not in such quantities for one!). However… the baked Camembert was divine. It was  topped with garlic and parsley and served with crusty bread. I would have preferred a different style bread with the dish, but I can’t fault the baked Camembert itself! I’ll definitely be back to try more of their menu, but so far, I can say it’s definitely worth a visit!

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Baked Camembert at Six°North
  • Good for: Beer & pub food, bigger crowds, casual dining.
  • ££: Starters range from £5-7, Mains – £6-£13.

Cafe Zique – Partick – Brunch & Coffee

I’ve been a fan of Cafe Zique ever since my partner’s sister suggested it for brunch a few years back. I’ve come back plenty of times with family and friends, mostly for brunch, and occasionally for dinner. It’s a popular west end spot and the restaurant is always buzzing when I visit. The food is good and plentiful and the coffee – delicious. They also change and experiment with their menu regularly enough and therefore keep things interesting for regulars. You can find a very decent full breakfast, plenty of choice for poached eggs and various toppings and french toast. I’m usually a big fan of this buzzing restaurant, but my last visit was a bit disappointing. I met a friend for brunch there and while he devoured a delicious looking full breakfast, I had the french toast with berries. Plenty of french toast, with the smallest handful of berries I’ve been served… Maple syrup had to be ordered as an extra too (at the ‘modest’ price of £2!) which also left me with a bitter (ah the irony) taste at the end. Saying that, Cafe Zique have an impressive track record of cooking and serving delicious food, so at the moment I’m considering this to be a fluke!  And, as a side note, their bakery is amazing – you can get fresh bread, pastries and cakes and they are truly delicious!

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Plenty of french toast, sadly not much from any of the toppings at Cafe Zique
  • Good for: Brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee, cocktails and a fantastic in store bakery.
  • ££: Moderately priced.

Kelbourne Saint – West End – Gourmet Pub

This is my local pub and I’ve seen it change a few times since I moved in the area. It’s famous for being the pub which appears in a certain pint smashing scene in Trainspotting and I’ve also spotted in British sitcom Lovesick. Though it’s changed much since it’s appearance on Trainspotting, it still reserves a certain charm when you visit. It’s now a posh pub, serving gourmet food and rotisserie chicken. Ever since it re-opened under the new management and new name, new look, new everything, I really wanted to like it. And I do like it – I like the atmosphere, I like the outdoor garden, I like the people who work there and I like the drinks. But.. when it comes to the food, it’s an entirely different story.

You’d hope that if a place specialises in something, in this case rotisserie chicken, they would do it well so you might forgive other things on the menu. However, their chicken is really quite average and not all that tasty. The sides, even worse – over roasted dry potatoes, overcooked greens and other veg… overall quite unsatisfying. Over the last year or so, we’ve tried different items on the menu and nothing has ever been quite right. On our last visit in particular, our friends had the burgers which they didn’t enjoy either, and every option my partner and I had initially selected from the menu was actually unavailable – so we had to give the chicken another go, knowing it’s not that great. However, I still visit the Kelbourne Saint, and I will continue to do so, because though the food is no good, the bar is lovely and it’s a nice spot to hang out in!

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Roast chicken with all the trimmings at Kelbourne Saint
  • Good for: drinks and ambiance, but I don’t recommend the food.
  • ££: On the expensive side for a pub.

Absurd Bird – City Centre – All things chicken

Absurd Bird is a chain restaurant which specialises in everything chicken – wings, fried chicken, burgers etc. They have a cool vibe, moonshine cocktails and love to make dirty jokes about chickens. They LOOK really good. So a couple of weeks we headed over for some finger lickin’ good chicken. The menu is really extensive and there is lot’s of choice. I enjoyed the cocktails too, but that’s about as far as I enjoyed this visit. The wings were very mediocre, and the hottest ones on the menu were not hot at all. We also ordered the chicken fondue, which looked impressive but tasted pretty bad. The cheese sauce was not good, however the various additions to the fondue were interesting – notable was the chicken slider and the deep fried baby bell. However, a lot of the dish didn’t make much sense to me – the cheese crumbs didn’t really add anything and the fondue was actually quite difficult to eat, having been served in a rather deep jar. Everything about Absurd Bird, including the chicken fondue, says “style over substance” and it feels that everything is created to be ‘instragramable’ rather than tasty. I’ll take my food in a non-pretty serving but delicious in taste, thank you very much. Overall, not great first impression and not sure it will warrant a second visit.

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Absurd Bird’s very insta-friendly Chicken Fondue, which sadly doesn’t deliver on flavour.
  • Good for: They specialise in chicken and moonshine cocktails, but I wouldn’t say the food is good.
  • ££: Moderately priced.

This is it for July! If you missed part 1, you can go back and read it here. Look out for the August edition in a few weeks time.

My Month in Food – July (Part 1)

With July almost over, it’s time for me to give you an update of all the new places I’ve visited this month. We have some new spots in Glasgow’s food scene to discuss, as well as some spots that have been here for a while. Big theme this month is the trendy sushiritto (AKA sushi-burrito), which first appeared in Glasgow at Temaki (previously covered here and also featured in my Glasgow best of Lunch spots in town post), can now be found in the West End too at Wudon and Dai Pai. Continuing with the Japanese Theme, I also visited Koko’s Japanese Kitchen, currently residing at Nice N Sleazy. It wouldn’t be me if I don’t feature also some delicious brunch, so you can also read about my visit to Italian cafe North Star.

Koko’s Japanese Kitchen – City Centre – Japanese/Pop Up

Koko’s Japanese Kitchen has been residing at Nice N Sleazy for several months now and it has already received much praise. The menu features a good selection of Japanese home cooking dishes, that cater for the carnivores as well as for those favouring a plant based diet. In fact, I was impressed about the fantastic range of vegan/vegetarian dishes on offer.

The menu is made of small dishes and therefore is perfect for sharing. We went for the Chicken Karaage, kimchi topped fries (this should be a standard menu item EVERYWHERE) and the cheese filled dry wudon dumpling-crips. We weren’t that impressed by the latter of those, but the chicken karaage and the kimchi topped fries were delicious. I will be returning to sample more Japanese deliciousness from Koko’s menu!

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  • ££ – reasonable, ok value for money, but you need to order a couple of dishes to share for a good sized meal.
  • Good for: lunch, dinner, Japanese food, casual dining.

North Star Cafe – West End – Italian/Cafe

North Star has been around on Queen Margaret Drive for a while, and it’s one of the most loved cafes in the area. And there is a good reason for this. Owned by a charming couple from Italy, Ester and Maurizio (and possibly a couple of other friends/family?!), North Star has a real family feel to it. The owners and their staff are always absolutely lovely, chatty and incredibly friendly, and it’s always a delight to pay them a visit. They remember they loyal customers as well as those that pop in occasionally and really make an effort to make everyone feel welcome. That’s not always easy in a cafe quite as busy as this one, but they manage nontheless.

With an open kitchen at the back, the cafe is always filled with noise from the kitchen, background chatter (often in Italian) and smell of delicious food and coffee. Everything about this cafe is authentic – from the atmosphere, the people to the delicious food they make. Their menu features daily specials and regular Italian dishes (expect delicious pasta, risotto, stews…) as well as some non-Italian favourites – Full Scottish breakfast and other standard breakfast items, and French Toast with plenty of choice of toppings.

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On this particular visit, we went for the French Toast – mine topped with maple and berries, and my friend’s with pistachios, and of course, plenty of coffee to wash it down with. But on previous visits, I’ve tried a lot more of their breakfast menu and brought countless friends to get some solid breakfast which also does not cost an arm and a leg! They also offer a lot of freshly made cakes which are definitely worth a try too.

  • ££: Very good value for money, inexpensive;
  • Good for: Breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee & cake, Italian food.

Wudon – West End – Japanese

Wudon is fairly local to me so I’ve visited it a couple of times over the past few years. When you want Japanese food, they are definitely a robust option. Over the summer, they have also started offering the trendy Sushiritto – a sushi burrito. Chances are, if you like sushi you will also like a sushi burrito. Usually, the only common thing a sushiritto would have with a burrito, is the fact it’s rolled up like one. It doesn’t actually have any ‘Mexican’ flavours, so it’s very much a ‘loaded’ temaki, if anything. AND I LOVE IT! Wudon offers four different flavours – salmon, chicken, beef and tofu, each coming with a unique range of toppings. I went for the Sake Salmon which came with crispy salad and cucumber, tempura flakes and kimchi mayo dressing. It was sublime and I would definitely recommend catching Wudon’s sushirittos before they go!

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  • ££: Moderately priced, sushirittos just under £8 (average price for Glasgow at the moment, slightly cheaper than Temaki)
  • Good for: Japanese food, casual dining.

Dai Pai – West End – Asian Street Food

Dai Pai is a very welcome addition to Byres Road in my opinion. Offering a good variety of Asian Street Food favourites (think ramen, sushi, dumplings, chicken karaage and so much more) in a stylish and relaxed setting. So far it’s been getting very positive reviews but I can’t really give a full ‘verdict’ yet as I’ve only tried their sushirittos. They offer 5 sushiritto flavours – salmon, salmon + tuna, chicken, beef and tofu – and they are all loaded with different toppings depending on what you want. I had the Salmon Chilli Bomb, which came with cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo and pickled ginger and it was also pretty good. I will be going back to Dai Pai to try more of their offering so I’ll update my short review in coming months to feature more about Dai Pai.

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  • ££: Moderately priced from what I saw of the menu. Sushirittos start at £6.95, slightly cheaper than Wudon and Temaki.
  • Good for: Asian street food, casual dining.

NB: I liked Wudon’s sushiritto slightly better than Dai Pai’s in terms of taste, but Dai Pai’s are the best in terms of how well filled they are! But it’s a very narrow margin and they are both amazing. You won’t be disappointed whichever one you choose!


That’s all for Part 1. In Part 2, expect to read about Glasgow new comer Absurd Bird, west end’s Kelbourn Saint, Cafe Zique, Finnieston’s The Grunting Growler and Partick’s Six Degrees North.

 

Baked croissant French toast

I found this breakfast idea in an old Co-operative Food Magazine and thought it looked interesting. French toast and Croissant in one breakfast – sounds great, right?! However, this breakfast divided opinions at home. I liked it more than my other half did. Because the croissants are baked in the eggy milk mix, they are a bit soft and soggy at the bottom yet crunchy at the top. I actually liked the sweetness and softness of the croissants against the zing of the berries and thought it worked well, but even I have to admit it took me a couple of bites before I appreciated it. Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Baked croissant French toast

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Serves 2-3 | Prep 15 minutes | Cook 45 minutesEasy | Vegetarian

You’ll need:

  • 2 – 3 croissants, quartered;
  • 275ml semi-skimmed milk;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 25g caster sugar;
  • Zest from 1/2 orange;
  • 200g frozen mixed berries;
  • 1 tbsp clear honey;
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice.

For the croissants. Pre-heat the oven to 170C/140C fan. Arrange the croissants in a medium baking dish. Beat the milk, eggs, sugar, ground cinnamon and half the orange zest in a jug. Pour over the croissants.  Bake for 45 minutes, until golden.

For the berries. About 7 minutes at the end of the croissants baking time, gently heat the berries, honey, remaining zest and orange juice in a pan for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly. Drain any excess liquid.

To serve. Put each croissant on a plate and spoon over the berries on top.

Original recipe from Co-operative Food magazine.