[Glasgow] Seafood, Indian, Scottish, Vietnamese, Nigerian, and Chinese food

My yearly trip to Glasgow was last month. I had some good food, some good-enough food, and some disappointing food.

Crabshakk, 1114 Argyle Street, G3 8TD (website)

Service was friendly and welcoming, and they had no problem with me ordering three starters instead of a starter plus main. Worth mentioning that much of the seating is on bar stools, though they do have a few regular tables, and the loos are in the basement (no lift). They didn’t make me sit on a bar stool, for which I love them.

Oysters (photo) were fine, and I liked that they have the option to have just one (though I had three). Scallops with anchovies (photo) had just the right amount of anchovy. If I was being picky, I’d say they were a little overcooked, but only just, and this is hard to avoid with a dish served still sizzling in butter. The roes were huge.

The famous crab cakes (photo) were indeed clever — seemingly entirely crab and seasonings with no hint of a binder. I did find them rather rich, though, and ended up drenching the last one in lemon juice for a bit of relief. Chips (really French fries) were competent.

Getting the bill was a bit of a palaver — I had to ask twice, and then they brought me someone else’s before finally getting it right, and even then they missed off one of my glasses of wine. I didn’t notice the latter mistake until I’d got back to my hotel; by coincidence I was passing the restaurant again the next day so I popped in and tried to pay them for it. They were astonished at my honesty, and refused to take any money. I think we made each other’s day there.

Horn Please, 91 Berkeley Street, G3 7DX (website)

A serendipitous discovery on my way to Crabshakk; I deliberately didn’t eat too much there because I suspected I might want to pop in here on the way back. I’d been hoping for pani puri, but although they used to do this they don’t any more (apparently although some people loved the different waters they did, others hated it, and the chef decided to take it off the menu).

Instead I had their interpretation of mini utthappam, which turned out to be a mixture of yogurt, roasted semolina, and the usual utthappam fillings (onion, tomato, chilli) on little semicircles of toast (photo). It tasted of raw flour and didn’t really work for me. The staff were really nice though! They looked so sad about me not liking it.

Deoch an Dorus, 427-429 Dumbarton Road, G11 6DD (website)

A nice old-fashioned pub with an oval bar complete with brass rail and small jugs of water for people to pour into their whisky. Very clean, with staff polishing the woodwork in quieter moments. Aside from the staff, I was probably the youngest person in there, and I’m in my 40s.

Haggis croquettes (photo) were, essentially, deep-fried breaded haggis, but it was decent haggis, and the frying was well-judged, not greasy at all. The accompanying wholegrain mustard and whisky sauce was a good addition, sparking up the flavours and cutting the richness. I would in no way suggest travelling across Glasgow to come here, but if you’re already in Partick you could do a lot worse.

Hanoi Bike Club, 8 Ruthven Lane, G12 9BG (website)

The first real disappointment of the trip. It was noisy and crowded, and I was initially placed on a stool so uncomfortable (hard, small, and so high that my feet were dangling) I had to ask to be moved. The food did not make up for any of this.

According to the menu, they make all their own tofu fresh every day from scratch. I’d suggest they should perhaps consider just buying it instead; the texture was very grainy. The sauce (I had it in black pepper sauce) was overly sweet. Green beans with shrimp paste and water chestnuts were uninteresting, with very little shrimp paste flavour, and jasmine rice was very mushy.

Babu, 186 West Regent Street, G2 4RU (website)

I’d been looking forward to their Full Bombay Breakfast (photo), but this was another disappointment. The paratha was pre-made and frozen (I saw them taking the wrappers off). It was overcooked, hard, and greasy. “Pan-fried potato patty” had an unpleasantly loose texture, and included undercooked (and not in a good way) beetroot. The chickpeas tasted mainly of tomato and raw spices, and despite loving chickpeas I didn’t manage to finish them. The spiced scrambled eggs were fine, though they were the only thing that was!

The plate it was served on was too small, and the enamel was worn off in parts — including, as I found out halfway through my meal, under some of the food. I asked if they did masala tea, and they looked doubtful and said “We have chai…” It was incredibly sweet (way sweeter than I’ve had it at any Indian cafe in London) and there was no option to have it unsweetened since they make it up in bulk, pre-sweetened, every morning.

Willow Tea Rooms, 97 Buchanan Street, G1 3HF (website)

A nice room, with very tall-backed chairs screening tables from one another (though also making it a bit tricky to attract the staff’s attention). Tea is loose-leaf and comes with a separate jug of hot water (photo), though there’s no provision for separating the leaves from the tea once it’s brewed to your liking (I improvised with the water jug). Staff let me sit for two hours (and two pots of tea plus some toast) before dropping a very polite hint that they’d like the table back (I had time to kill before a lunchtime concert; luckily I needed to leave at pretty much exactly the same time they needed me to leave).

Comforter in the City, 50 Dundas Street, G1 2AQ (Facebook)

They told me on the phone they opened at 3pm, so (having been to Nigerian restaurants before) I turned up at 3:15 and they were just opening up the shutter. They seemed surprised yet pleased to have a non-Nigerian customer ordering edikang ikong with eba (photo).

The eba was softer in texture than I’ve had before. They asked what meat I wanted and I asked for fish, but judging by the small argument I overheard in the kitchen I possibly shouldn’t have been offered a choice, and indeed this might explain why I found a piece of beef in amongst the fish and greens. It was a bit disappointing, overall, and mainly tasted of Maggi. (They’d asked if I liked spicy food and I said yes, but it wasn’t particularly spicy by my standards.)

New City Palace, 84–92 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3DE

We ordered from the Chinese menu here rather than the English one, but probably badly, since I was (a) slightly drunk and (b) unprepared. 宮保雞丁 (kung po chicken; photo), 麻婆豆腐 (mapo tofu; photo), and 魚香茄子 (sea-spiced aubergine; photo) were all overly sweet, and the latter two had too high a proportion of low-quality minced meat. I suspect part of what went wrong was that we ordered non-Cantonese dishes in a Cantonese restaurant; but still, I feel that if you put something on your menu, you should be prepared to cook it reasonably well. These could have been improved drastically simply by leaving out half of the meat.

Loon Fung, 417–419 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3LG (website)

Perfectly serviceable dim sum in traditional, child-friendly surroundings.

On my next trip I hope to try out one or more of:

  • Sichuan House, 345-349 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3HW
  • Café Cossachok, 10 King Street, G1 5QP
  • Usha’s Indian Street Food, 2 Byres Road, G11 5JY
  • Shilla, 1138 Argyle Street, G3 8TD
  • Calabash, 57 Union Street, G1 3RB

but other recommendations are welcome!

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Good write-up. Ta.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold