It is not often that restaurateurs are compared to delicate, fragrant, little flowers. In the experience of the 5pm Dining blog, almost none of them could accurately be described as shy and retiring wallflowers.
However, in much the same way that spring stimulates lots of activity in the plant world, it also triggers something among restaurateurs. They pop their heads above ground, shake off the winter snow and start thinking about launching new ventures. Or sprucing up existing ones.
Dreaming of new menus
This is also an invigorating time of year to be a chef. After the lean winter months of trying to do something interesting with cabbage, the new season’s veg slowly starts to come in. Wild garlic begins to crop up. Jersey Royals and home-grown asparagus are not far away. It all makes decent chefs get a bit twitchy and start dreaming about new menus.
In Giffnock, Babbo Glasgow has caught the mood. Launched earlier this week on Mains Avenue, the new Italian restaurant and deli has opened with a menu which makes good use of spring produce. There will be summer, autumn and winter menus to follow at the appropriate time.
On the menu, the drive for seasonality means dishes made with spring crab, asparagus and lamb. Spring veg are used in the minestrone and fresh garden peas get liberal mentions.
I’m not entirely sure where the ‘spring avocado’ may have been grown – poly tunnels don’t half stretch the concept of seasonality – but it would be a tough task to create an interesting Italian menu which didn’t use ingredients from elsewhere.
Selected Italian ingredients
If you want to run an Italian restaurant in Scotland then you will also want to use selected Italian ingredients alongside Scottish produce.
At Babbo Glasgow, San Marzano tomatoes, Calabrian chilli and mortadella Bologna line up beside Isle of Mull scallops and Oban smoked salmon.
Judiciously mixing well chosen Scottish and Italian ingredients is a formula which has worked well for the three Contini restaurants in Edinburgh.
We wish Babbo Glasgow every success and hope that they have also found a winning formula for their new venture.