The Central Belt’s restaurateurs didn’t take their feet off the accelerator as 2014 whizzed through its final months. The final three months of a busy year saw plenty of new openings including a couple of biggies.
As an Edinburgh resident, your 5pm Dining blogger finds this hard to admit but Glasgow certainly had more significant launches than the capital did this year.
Among these was the Anchor Line bar and grill on St Vincent Place. Formerly the HQ of the Anchor Shipping line, it has been restored at a reported cost of £1.5 million and you can see every penny of it in the décor.
The shipping company used to run liners to destinations such as New York, India and Pakistan. The names of the ships which made the journeys are embossed on plaques hung along the walls. There is also lots of marble, Art Deco style lighting and discreet booths.
The main dining room and the bar are separated by an open kitchen which offers lots of dry aged steaks, lobsters and other seafood. You can see the full menu from here.
Another launch which made a splash was The Honours, Martin Wishart’s new restaurant in Glasgow’s Malmaison.
This is the second branch of The Honours to open after the original first started serving customers on Edinburgh’s North Castle Street in 2011.
It is Martin’s first foray into Glasgow although Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, his Michelin-starred restaurant at nearby Cameron House is long established.
See and be seen
If the old Mal brasserie was all dark wood and brass fittings, The Honours is more open plan and spacious.
There are wide booths in the centre of the dining room surrounded by banquette seating and tables around the golden-coloured walls. It is a place to see and be seen and that extends to the kitchen which can be viewed through the huge windows running the length of one wall.
The menus are broadly similar to those in the Edinburgh branch. You can see them here but the Martin’s basic approach is to take brasserie style dishes and give them a polish.
Stand out dishes from the blog’s dinner included a spectacular starter of truffled linguine with scallops; a light, frothy crab cappuccino and a delicately flavoured rabbit in mustard sauce.
You can book in through 5pm here.
As always, Glasgow restaurateur Alan Tomkins was a busy man this year. Well known in the city’s restaurant sector, he operates a stable of notable Glasgow restaurants and bars. Urban Bar & Brasserie in St Vincent Place; Vroni’s Wine Bar in West Nile Street, Ashton Lane’s Vodka Wodka and Blue Dog, on West George Street, are all his.
Recently, two new venues have been added to the portfolio. In the Southside, Ollie’s has opened on Nithsdale Road. A relaxed, all day, neighbourhood hangout, the menus range from breakfast rolls and French toast to evening choices like the seafood linguine and sirloin steaks from the butcher J. Gilmour and Co.
More recently, The Western Club Restaurant is the latest venue to join the Tomkins’ empire.
It’s at 32 Royal Exchange Square. While it is part of the same building as The Western Club, a private member’s club, it is open to everyone. The menus are very modern British.
Dishes on the current menu include the boudin of quail with Stornoway black pudding, apple and horseradish and the salmon fillet with langoustine risotto, leeks and Noilly Prat.
Founded as a private club for businessmen, MPs and merchants in the 19th century, The Western Club is Glasgow’s oldest, residential members’ club. You can read all about its history here.
If there were awards for punning names then The Mad Platter on Great Western Road would be in the running for a medal.
It is owned and run by Kirsty Watson who describes it as a ‘café for the people’. With plans for live music, book clubs and poetry readings, it is certainly a place where local residents can feel a big part of proceedings.
The food offer is also designed to make people feel at home. As well as the fish, cheese, veggie and charcuterie platters suggested by the café’s name, The Mad Platter also sells mince and tatties; an all day breakfast; a fine fish pie and baked camembert cheeses to share.
The decor is deliciously quirky. Look out for a chandelier made from old crockery and decanters; a doggie table for small pooches and a splendid collection of top hats and bowlers.
On Tunnel Street, The Rotunda Bar and Diner started dishing up American-style favourites. Handily situated next to The Hydro, The Rotunda Bar and Diner serves a wide variety of burgers as well as barbeque and other southern American dishes. ‘Burgers, Shakes. Good Times’ is how the new venture sells itself and that seems a pretty compelling set of reasons to visit.
Bang in the middle of the city centre, Azur Bistro started ladling the soupe a l’oignon on the second floor of Princes Square on Buchanan Street.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the bistro promises ‘authentic French cuisine in the heart of Glasgow’.
Across town, just off the effervescent Finnieston strip, The Scullery started taking bookings on Claremont Street.
Kathleen Sheridan, formerly of The Chip, is the owner. The launch menu offered a selection of starters and small plates; sharing dishes and main courses.
You can browse it here but the dishes which drew our attention were the slow braised IPA beef short ribs with horseradish mash and a dainty sounding lemon, courgette and mascarpone risotto.
In Clarkston, The Busby Hotel re-opened to the public on Thursday 23 October.
Since being taken over by the Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group last year, the property has had a reported £2.5 million lavished on it.
One of the major changes is the new bar and restaurant. Called Carters at The Busby hotel, it promises craft beer and a restaurant menu with a distinct Italian flavour.
We love the name, especially as Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.
The décor is inspired by ‘run down street corner liquor stores’, a vibe which the 5pm Dining blog is always fond of.
Cold beer, hard liquor and a ‘reclaimed’ interior are among the attractions along with a very carnivorous menu.
Naturally, there is a large selection of burgers. Anyone up for a Meaty Bitch? A Krispy Kreme Burger? They are all made from 28-day aged Scotch beef and topped with everything from cheese to peanut butter.
On Glasgow’s Southside, Loks Bar and Kitchen has set up shop in what used to be Pollok FC Social Club. After a huge renovation job, it is now Loks Bar and Kitchen, the Trophy Bar and the Newlandsfield function suite. The site also has an outside dining area and beer garden for the warmer months.
The East Coast’s restaurateurs have been just as busy.
First up, The Bellevue Bar on Edinburgh’s London Street (by the bottom of Broughton Street) has become The Ox. Now run by the same team that have The Shore in Leith, it is a gastropub, bar and kitchen type combo.
Towards the bottom of Easter Road, next to the long established Persevere Bar, Chef Joseph Malik launched The Percy – a new restaurant which he describes as ‘a love letter to Leith’.
Decorated with abstract pictures of The Proclaimers and Hibs players, The Percy also has dishes named after local heroes such Eggs Irvine Welsh and the Chicken Mary Moriarty, dedicated to the legendary landlady at the Port of Leith.
Long in the tooth readers may recall Joe from another life back in the Nineties. One half of the hip hop duo Blacka’nized, Mr Malik was a regular in the DJ box at clubs such as the Lizzard Café.
In the West End, Channings Hotel launched its new Shackleton’s Bar and Brasserie.
Named after the Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton, it is filled with old photos of his Polar expeditions along with nautical maps, compasses and ship’s wheels. The hotel’s Polar connection dates back to the early part of the 20th century when the property on South Learmonth Gardens was Shackleton’s home.
The kitchen serves everything from informal lunches and bar meals to modern British classics on their seasonally changing menus.
In Corstorphine, Annette Sprague opened Redwood Bistro. Some readers may remember that she previously ran the Redwood restaurant on St Stephen Street in Stockbridge.
Reflecting Annette’s Californian background, the menus at Redwood take their culinary cue from all around the world. On the plate, this means starters such as the crispy squid salad with pumpkin, broccoli, chilli, rice noodles, fresh coriander and a Thai-inspired dressing along with main courses like the herb-marinated leg of lamb skewers with chickpea, feta, spinach, red onion and a red pepper salad with mint and coriander pesto.
Pera Turkish opened on Elm Row on Leith Walk. Operating as a cosy café during the day and bistro at night, it has a wide range of hot and cold meze plus charcoal-grilled kebabs. Pera is BYOB, which always warms the cockles of our hearts.
Intriguingly, their website also has a page dedicated to the history of Turkish cooking as well as an explanation of typical ingredients used, regional variations and the place that food has in Turkish culture.
Las Iguanas opened on George Street. Along with outlets in Aberdeen and Glasgow, the Edinburgh branch brings the number of Las Iguanas restaurants in Scotland to three.
As well as a list of kickass cocktails, Las Iguanas proffers a long menu of Spanish and Latin American dishes.
From emapanadas to burritos via tacos and coconut curries, they have everything you might need to fuel a little after work fiesta.
A Christmas tale
Our final mention goes to the Khublai Khan Mongolian BBQ team. They terrified the 5pm office recently by sending us an email which threatened that ‘Santa Claus will not arrive this year as Khublai Khan Restaurant has Rudolph and his mates on the Christmas menu.’
What next? Should the John Lewis penguin beef up his security?
It seems as though the Khublai Khan Restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh will stop at nothing to provide their customers with exotic dining experiences. They have even come up with a festive ditty to strike fear into the heart of hard-working reindeer:
‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer could very well be on your plate!
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with garlic and chilli, smells real great!’
The reindeer appears on the restaurants’ festive feast menu as tsaa buga – cumin-flavoured, minced reindeer which comes in a crispy pastry parcel served with a hot and sour sauce. Apparently, it’s a traditional Mongolian dish.
And on that note, the 5pm Dining blog is signing off for Christmas. Have a great break and we’ll be back in action, looking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, on Monday 29th December.