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Archive for December, 2011



The year in food October to December

Curry was much in the headlines in the final part of the year.

In Edinburgh, The Kismot restaurant made news around the world when its Kismot Killer curry hospitalised diners taking part in a curry scoffing competition.

While the story was covered everywhere from New York to New Zealand, the best headline was thought up much closer to home. Congrats to the Evening News sub editor who came up with: Dial naan, naan, naan.

On a less happy note, at the beginning of November, Glasgow just missed out on the Curry Capital of the Year Award to Bradford, an event in which the city has a great track record.

The final quarter of the year saw the UK Michelin Guide being published in October rather than the usual January. The new guide was mixed news for Scotland.

Dominic Jack's Castle Terrace Restaurant scooped a Michelin star

Castle Terrace was awarded a star as was Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire. Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond was also garlanded with a star which will sit nicely with his existing star for Restaurant Martin Wishart in Leith.

Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles maintained its two stars and Stravaigin in Glasgow was awarded a Bib Gourmand for good food at a moderate price. The Plumed Horse and Champany Inn lost their stars. Scotland now boasts seventeen Michelin stars.

Viva Brazil brought a splash of colour to a cold October evening

In Glasgow, Viva Brazil hosted a glitzy launch with samba dancers and many, many cocktails. Converted from a former post office, the 240 cover restaurant is based on Brazilian churrascaria or barbecue restaurants.

Kuta, named after a Balinese Island replaced Tapela on Bath Street. Pan-Asian food and cracking cocktails are the draw at the stylish new hangout. The latter part of the year also saw Vespbar, a retro Italian caffe bar, open on Drury Street and Mackintosh's bar on Cambridge Street had a revamp before relaunching as Jackson's Drinkmonger.

Stepping away from the bar for a moment, Gandolfi Fish opened Gandolfi Fish To Go which promises seven different kinds of fish supper. We also saw the launch  of Little SoHo in Jordanhill. It's the newly arrived little brother of the city centre SoHo pizzeria.

December saw the opening of the bungo bar and restaurant in the Southside. It's the brainchild of the team behind the two figs and the left bank in the West End.

On St Vincent Street in Glasgow city centre, Martha's a new fast casual restaurant opened. Inspired by new openings in America and, more recently, London, the fast casual concept aims to combine high quality produce with fast food speed and convenience.

Although not a restaurant, perhaps one of the biggest food stories in Glasgow was the arrival of Whole Foods Market in Giffnock. An American supermarket which aims to have a rigorous ethical sourcing policy, they make big efforts to work with local producers.

In Edinburgh, Tony Singh's Oloroso celebrated the 10th birthday of his rooftop restaurant and several new restaurants launched. Already established as part of the curry landscape in Glasgow, Kama Sutra opened its first Edinburgh branch on Lothian Road.

Just as welcome was the return of Khushis. Their old premises on Victoria Street were badly burned in a fire three years ago but their new outfit on Antigua Street is going great guns.

At the other end of town, the Restaurant at the Rutland became Kyloe, an upmarket steak restaurant and, just around the corner, Edinburgh's first branch of Wagamamas opened.

Kyloe's new interior

 



The year in food July to September

The 5pm takeaway service was launched with the creation of an eco-curry by Sanjay Majhu of Harlequin Restaurants

The big news for 5pm in these months was the launch of the 5pm takeaway service in September. To mark the launch, Sanjay Majhu, boss of the Harlequin Restaurant group, created an eco-friendly curry, or Mac-sala, in which all the ingredients came from Scotland.

Edinburgh's major restaurant news was the opening of Martin Wishart's hotly anticpated new brasserie, The Honours. The main man in the kitchen is Paul Tamburrini, an old colleague of Wishart and the former head chef at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow. After a very successful launch, Wishart seems keen to roll the concept out with Glasgow being mooted as a highly probable destination.

Martin Wishart gives a final polish to The Honours

Stepping into Tamburrini's shoes at Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens is Darin Campbell, the new head chef who might just be the man to gain a Michelin star for the Glasgow restaurant.

The Ayrshire-born chef certainly has the right kind of experience. He worked at One Devonshire Gardens under the eye of Andrew Fairlie back when the operation originally had a star.

Since then, he has also worked for Gordon Ramsay at Petrus and Eric Cheveu at the two star Michelin restaurant The Capital in London.

Following his London stint, he returned to Scotland and worked again for Andrew Fairlie at his eponymous, two star restaurant in Gleneagles.

Returning to Edinburgh, Stac Polly, the Scottish restaurant on Edinburgh's Grindlay Street, has made way for the rather splendid Kanpai Sushi which has been shortlisted for the Best Asian Restaurant in the forthcoming Scottish Restaurant Awards.

The Di Maggio's family of restaurants never like to sit on their hands for long. Just a couple of weeks after opening the upmarket  Barolo Grill in Glasgow, they fired up the pizza ovens at the new branch of Amarone on St Andrew Square in Edinburgh.

The company have revamped the former Grape wine bar to make a sister restaurant to Glasgow's well established Amarone restaurant.

They call it a 'contemporary Milanese restaurant and pizzeria' which features both a bar menu of foccacia sandwiches, sharing platters and pizza along with a full a la carte menu of Italian classics.

After much anticipation and even more delay, Mithas restaurant in Edinburgh's Leith launched to much fanfare. Aimed at the fine dining market, Mithas has been nominated for the Best Indian in the Scottish Restaurant Awards.

Congratulations are also in order for the Lebowskis, the pair of Glasgow and Edinburgh bars which have produced a little baby Lebowski. Or, rather than a chip off the old block, they have opened up a new seafood bar and grill called The Finnieston.

Just down from the original Lebowskis on Argyle Street, the new venture has opened in the former Cafe Bayan. According to Scott, one of the owners, it is a 'locally sourced seafood bar and grill with a bar specialising in gin, local beers and champagne'.

Staying in Glasgow, Pesto was but one of a flurry of new Italians to set up shop in the city. Prezzo and Carluccio's followed later in the year.

Horton's Bar and Kitchen is another new venture which opened its doors in the old Frankenstein's on West George Street in Glasgow.

The summer's most newsworthy event was the appearance of Brangelina in Glasgow to film World War Z, a zombie film. Congratulations to the Metro Cafe in Glasgow who made the most of the star's stay in the city.

Apparently, they have brought out a World War Z tribute sandwich made with chorizo, cheddar and salsa. According to a report from Anna Burnside in Scotland On Sunday, it is said to be 'hot and spicy, just like Brad'.

Brad Pitt's appearance in Glasgow made a lot of people very happy

 

 

 

 

 

 



2011 in Food: May and June

May and June were busy for both new openings and daft stories.

According to several newspaper reports, Denmark banned Marmite as it apparently fell foul of the country's laws on food products with added vitamins.

Meanwhile, Budweiser advertised for someone to be their beer executive officer at live music festivals. The job description was simple: travel around the country delivering Bud 66 to rock stars and superstar DJs at big music festivals.

Naturally, such a hard task deserves executive pay and the beer company offered £10k for six days 'work'.

Glasgow played host to lots of new launches. Heavenly, a vegan cafe, bar and live music venue, opened, appropriately enough, in National Vegetarian Week. On the site of the former L’Ariosto, Barolo Grill began to welcome new customers and has been going great guns ever since.

This may, or may not, be the man behind Glasgow Mega Burrito

On Queen Street, Pinto opened and began spreading the word about freshly made burritos. It was a well timed launch as the city appears to be in the grip of burrito madness. For a terrifying glimpse into the depths of burrito obsession, try the Glasgow Mega Burrito blog but be warned, it is very sweary.

The other big West Coast opening was Scotts at Largs Yacht Haven. A Buzzworks operation, the new bar and restaurant features a salt water aquarium boasting bay sharks, seahorses and even Clown Fish, a species better known to the under tens as Nemo.

Edinburgh’s restaurant scene was just as frothy. The Vat and Fiddle at the foot of Lothian Road was replaced by the Red Squirrel bar.

Part of the Fuller Thomson bar portfolio which also owns Duke's Corner and Jute in Dundee plus The Holyrood in Edinburgh, Red Squirrel is a beer lover's paradise.

Bluerapa is a tiny new Thai on Torphichen Place in Edinburgh's West End while Jacksons on the Royal Mile was replaced by a new Indian, Bonoful. Sticking with Indian restaurants, Tanjore, a south Indian restaurant opened its doors in Newington. Koyama, on Forrest Road, was a new Japanese restaurant.

In Leith, Jean Michel Gauffre took over Daniel’s Bistro and turned it into La Garrigue Bistro. After appearing on Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant TV show, Gauffre’s restaurants have boomed.

The Whiski Bar and Restaurant on Edinburgh High Street also launched a new branch. The Whiski Rooms are on North Bank Street, just up from the National Galleries complex. A whisky shop with a tasting room, a bar and bistro, it promises a very Scottish menu to go with the hundreds of different malts they stock.

The Scottish Steak Club: not really designed with salad lovers in mind

The Macdonald Hotel group have not been resting on their laurels in the kitchen. The Macdonald in North Berwick launched the new John Paul restaurant and the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel in Polmont opened the Scottish Steak Club. A name that tells you exactly what is on the menu.



2011 in food March and April

March and April were dominated by the royal wedding and every bar and restaurant worth its salt tried to introduce some form of Willcat gimmick.

The blog liked the commemorative beer produced by the punk brewing company, Brewdog. Called the Royal Virility Performance, it was said to contain Viagra as well as several other aphrodisiacs.

The beer’s efficacy in the trouser department remains untested but there’s no doubting the virility of Brewdog’s operations. They opened a bar in Edinburgh in April, the first of several units launched by the Fraserburgh company over the course of the year.

Other new openings included Malaga Tapas on St Andrews Road in Glasgow; the short lived Pakistani Cafe at the foot of Byres Road; the new Surf ‘n’ Turf addition to Gordon Yuill’s Merrylee Road; Browns on George Square and the Mansion House on Glassford Street.

The interior of the Limelight Bar and Grill features pics of well known Scots such as Frankie Boyle

Last but not least, the Limelight Bar and Grill, part of the Hotel Indigo opened on Waterloo Street.

Edinburgh saw the launch of a new Japanese restaurant Nagoya Original on Dalziel Place and Caciopepe set up shop in the Hanover Street premises which used to house The Patio.

In St Andrews, the G1 Group opened the Mitchell Deli and Cafe in the old Mitchell butcher shop on Market Street.

In other news, Tim Anderson won Masterchef and The Daily Record diverted attention from the royal wedding with the heart-warming news that Scotland’s cows are the most flatulent in Europe.

 



2011 in food January and February

Chef Mark Greenaway has had a good year

Looking back on 2011, at least through the eyes of the 5pm blog, it has been a tough but not disastrous year for Scotland’s restaurant scene.

As always, plenty of restaurants closed their doors but just as many seemed to open.

January

Among the new openings that we noted at the start of the year were Ian Brown Restaurant in Glasgow’s Eastwood; Mark Greenaway at what was then Hawke and Hunter; Opium in Glasgow city centre and, in Edinburgh’s New Town, Jean Michel Gauffre replaced his high end veggie restaurant, L’Artichaut, with, what was then, a second branch of  La Garrigue.

Although it had already been trading for a number of months, the Grand Central Hotel, next to Glasgow Central Station, held a launch bash so lavish that it recalled those heady days of the pre-recession boom.

On the pie front (a subject always close to the blog’s heart), Maurice Irvine, a fourth generation baker from Beith in Ayrshire won the Scotch Pie World Championships.

When it came to the annual Michelin star give away, there wasn’t a huge deal of change in Scotland although Dominic Jack’s Castle Terrace ion Edinburgh was marked out as a ‘Rising star’, an accolade which proved strangely prophetic a few months later.

On an unhappy note, Allan Mawn, a restaurateur who stamped his engaging personality over Glasgow’s West End, especially with his Pintxo and Velvet Elvis restau-bars passed away.

February

This month started with a couple of Edinburgh restaurants marking big birthdays. Mamma’s Pizza on the Grassmarket made its quarter century while Tony Crolla’s Leith Walk Vittoria’s celebrated 40 years in business.

Glasgow’s Ubiquitous Chip also celebrated its 40th but by the unusual medium of a dinner illustrated by a 3D light show partially devised by Alasdair Gray.

Regrettably, there were also casualties. The Atrium and blue in Edinburgh both closed this month.

February saw the start of the Kate and Wills Wedding hype begin to build. We liked the royal fork-trait of the soon to be wed couple. Made from the ingredients of a typical roast dinner, it was crafted by the artist Prudence Staite by the Crown Carveries pub group.

The end of Feb also saw the Scottish Restaurant Awards take place at Glasgow Science Centre. It was a cracking bash with Tam Cowan lending his usual colourful (mainly blue) patter to proceedings. The full list of winners is here.

Particular congrats are due to Neil Forbes of Cafe St Honore who scooped the Chef of the Year award and has used the gong as a springboard to publicise Scottish producers.



Downton at du Vin

Want to live out your Downton Abbey fantasy? The staff at Glasgow's Hotel du Vin have the costumes

Still not decided what you want for Christmas? How about living out a Downton Abbey fantasy?

The Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens have hit upon the brilliant wheeze of marketing the exclusive use of the hotel’s Townhouse Four and Five as a Downton experience.

Would-be Earls and Countesses of Grantham can swan around their private apartments attended by staff dressed in period costumes.

Just like the TV show, arriving guests will be greeted on arrival by their own butler and then they will be assisted by their own personal maid and cooked for by their own chef.

Prices start from £335 per person.

If that seems a little steep for bank balances which have been battered by festive spending gales then you might prefer the bistro at Hotel du Vin @ One Dev.

They regularly run 5pm offers on meals cooked by their recently arrived head chef, Darin Campbell, a man who has seen the inside of many a Michelin-starred kitchen.

And on that note, I'm off to scoff mince pies. Have a Merry Christmas.



One for the road

'The usual?'

The former owners of the Rhoderick Dhu on Glasgow's Bothwell Street have opened a new bar, Deoch an Dorus, on Dumbarton Road.

The name is Gaelic for 'drink at the door' or 'one for the road' and it promises a massive selection of malts and cask ales.

Formerly the Hayburn Vaults, the building dates back to 1905 and many of the original features such as the wood paneling behind the bar, have been brought back to life during a significant refurbishment.

A snazzy new kitchen has also been installed and Deoch an Dorus aims to provide traditional pub grub to its customers.

The ever informative Dram magazine has more gen on the pub here.

Dram also has a design feature on the snazzy new Kuta bar on Bath Street. If Kuta's handsome good looks appeal then there are a couple of tasty 5pm Big Deals running with the bar.

One is for a mouth-watering three course dinner at £9.95 instead of the usual £19.95. The other is for a cocktail masterclass, four cocktails and a sharing platter for £15 instead of £30.

Click here to go to the Big Deal home page and then click on the Chritsmas shop banner to see the Kuta offers along with all the other fab Christmas 5pm Big Deals.



Yam Yam To Go

Interesting news from Fife where Scotland's first branch of the Yam Yam To Go franchise has just opened in the Mercat Centre.

It is a pan-Asian fast food franchise which aims to serve its customers within 60 seconds of an order being placed.

The business was started in the Netherlands just under ten years ago by Mr Cheung, a man with a rich family background in Asian food. In 1928, his grandfather opened the very first Chinese restaurant in Rotterdam.

Having started out in the Netherlands, the idea has expanded to Denmark and to the Greater London area which, so far, has three outlets. According to Business 7, Tahar Ali, the Scottish franchisee, has plans for a further five sites north of the border.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new opening is that customers can pay for their food at Yam Yam To Go using their mobile phones.

Obviously, this isn't new technology but Yam Yam To Go must be among the first fast food outlets in Scotland to employ it?

 



Itihass has it

Matin Khan takes down the Best Bangladeshi Chef in Scotland award

Congratulations are due to Matin Khan, the owner of the Itihass Indian restaurant in Dalkeith and the more recently opened Radhuni in Loanhead.

Mr Khan has just been awarded the title of Best Bangladeshi chef in Scotland at the annual dinner of the Bangladeshi Caterers’ Association (BCA) at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

Last year, Itihaas was one of the finalists in the Indian category of the 2011 Scottish Restaurant Awards.

As it happens, 5pm's Big Deal has a tempting offer running with The Radhuni at the moment. The Big Deal with The Radhuni is for two  main courses from the a la carte menu for £9.95. There is a supplement on king prawn dishes.

If you want to see why Mr Khan's restaurants keep on attracting so much attention then this Big Deal is the perfect way to investigate.

Click here to go to the Big Deal Christmas offer page and then scroll down to The Radhuni deal.

The Radhuni's stylish interior

 



Santa Champers

The sparkly champagne bar at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow

Still got shopping to do? If so, you might want think about factoring in a mid-shop Afternoon Tea at Champagne Central in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel.

When there is still half the Xmas present list to be acquired then a refreshing pick-me-up in the swish surrounds of Champagne Central could be just the job to fortify you for the remaining shops.

The chef has given the hotel's Afternoon Tea menu a bit of a sprinkle with Santa’s magic Christmas dust so it now features sandwiches with fillings such as turkey and cranberry sauce; scones spiced with cinnamon, mince pies and, naturally, Christmas cake.

With a pot of tea, Afternoon Tea is £12 a head. With a glass of posh fizz, the cost is £19.95 per person.

With its original Italian marble flooring and spectacular, dome-shaped chandelier, the Champagne Bar is definitely no turkey but the rest of the hotel’s facilities are also rather swanky.

The Tempus restaurant gets good reviews from 5pm diners and, at present, they’re running a bargainacious 5pm Big Deal on a steak dinner for two people. Fillet steak, chips and a glass of wine each is just £29.50 for two people.

You can find it by clicking here and then clicking through on the big red banner that say's Christmas Big Deals and scrolling down to the Tempus deal.

I know, I know, it’s like Christmas has come early.



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