Taste and Travel Tuesday – Glasgow, Scotland

{Photo credit: Kenny Muir}

“Glasgow is maybe the most bullshit-free place on earth. I think I call it “the antidote to the rest of the world.” It’s so unapologetically working class and attitude-free. Everyone’s looking “to take the piss out of you,” as they put it. They’re all comedians, and tough. They don’t put on airs.”  ~ Anthony Bourdain, interview by Dave Weich

alex - the tao of grad school Guest post by: Alex Proaps, The Tao of Grad School | @pixie658

I arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on June 14th for a conference.  My days were occupied with work, but I spent six nights pub crawling, dining, site seeing, and dancing.  Before I left the US, I did a quick search on TripAdvisor.com and UrbanSpoon.com.  I made a list of their top restaurant and pub choices for Glasgow so I could have it handy while I was there.  Anytime I go to a city where I don’t have friends to make recommendations, I make a list of places to eat.  I do not eat much meat and someone in our group has strict dietary restrictions, so I thought I should be prepared. I was pleasantly surprised that Glasgow eateries generally had plenty of healthy, vegetarian options.  Restaurants even offer a vegetarian version of the National Dish (Haggis) served with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes).  I ate it one night. It was like eating spicy Morning Star sausage with mashed potatoes. Granted, I’m a huge fan of seafood and was perfectly content
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my favorite places to wine and dine (and dance) in Glasgow.  Unfortunately, I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures of any of my entrees.  Slàinte!

Where to Dine

City Inn

We found City Inn on our first night in Glasgow.  We picked it for two reasons: Outdoor seating and a diverse menu.  Burgers, eclectic salads and pasta all cooked to order.  The delicious salad dressings are made fresh each day.  The Caesar salad has whole anchovies arranged neatly around the edges of the plate and is topped with homemade croutons.  The view isn’t too shabby either.

Gandolfi Fish

Fish N’ Chips, anyone? Yes, we are in the UK.  Everyone says they sell the best Fish N’ Chips in town. I found my favorite Fish N’ Chips at Gandolfi Fish.  Actually, I think I loved their homemade tartar sauce more than the fish and more than the chips. I’m talking huge chunks of sweet pickles in the tartar sauce.  If you prefer a quick lunch or a cold brew, you can also visit Gandolfi Café and Bar down the street.

Italian Kitchen

A local friend recommended Italian Kitchen because we had such a large group to accommodate.  The minute the ten of us plopped our hungry selves down, the server was at our beckon call.  (This was a common theme in Glasgow: excellent customer service.)  I ordered the lobster ravioli, but only after asking, “Would you recommend the lobster ravioli or the mushroom risotto?”

The server instantly said hands down I had to have the lobster ravioli because it was one of the “loveliest” lobsters he’d seen this season.  I didn’t see the lobster, but he tasted amazing stuffed inside handmade raviolis topped with an amazing dill tomato sauce.  My colleagues had various other pasta dishes and pizza they all said was delicious.  If you split a pizza there, the kitchen will halve it for you.  So you each literally get half a pizza on a giant plate.

Kama Sutra

I love Indian food. I make it at home all the time and it is by far one of my favorite kinds of food to eat.  Apparently Scots like Indian good, too!  Indian restaurants are everywhere, so it was difficult to narrow down which one would be best.  Locals pointed us in two directions, one of which being Kama Sutra.  As their menu states, this is “food of love.”  Kama Sutra presents a substantial menu that comes from the Khajuraho region of India.  Their vegetarian dishes can all be ordered in half portions which means you can sample a little of everything.  The Pind de Choley (chickpeas, my ultimate favorite) was amazing and the South Indian Masala Dosa was the best I’ve had in a very long time.  We loved the place so much that we took a picture with our server who was incredibly friendly!

Ubiquitous Chip

No trip to Glasgow is complete without a trip to the West End area near the University of Glasgow.   Originally we wanted to just eat pub food and hang out at a local dive, but the World Cup made for very close quarters in the bars.  We hopped over a few cobblestones to the Ubiquitous Chip instead.  The chip (or fried potato) is by definition the most ubiquitous food in the UK, so it is a clever name for a restaurant in this region! It was the Scotland’s Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year in 2010. While they use local and regional ingredients in its menus, it is not as vegetarian/vegan-friendly as some other eateries. The food was absolutely amazing nonetheless.  There are corner and mezzanine bars if you would rather eat light and there are two separate floors for seated dining. You may order off their Brasserie menu which includes some lighter fare and you will be seated in the mezzanine.  You may also choose to go all out and order from their regular menu and will be seated in their beautiful dining room.  I devoured the Orkney organic Salmon, Ayrshire potatoes, razor clams and mussels with Champagne sabayon and samphire.  They also have an amazing wine list and a sommelier to help you choose the perfect pairing.

Where to Drink

Arta

On the outside, Arta looks like just another restaurant.  In fact, it doesn’t look like much of anything because you have to walk down a narrow hallway and open a huge door to reach the main room.  If you happen to arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday, the room will be filled with salsa dancers who definitely know what they are doing.  I enjoyed listening to the great music and watching beautiful people dance all night almost as much as I enjoyed my margarita. I knew it would be a delicious drink when it took 10 minutes to prepare (fresh squeezed limes and all).

Maggie May’s

Maggie May’s is your typical local pub.  They have a regular lunch menu and a great pub menu with munchies.  I recommend the spicy chipped tatties with a local ale.  There is a huge projector screen for sports-viewing by day and a stage for live bands at night.

The Lee and the Wee Lee

The Lee is a favorite local watering hole.  It is located near Strathclyde University and is within walking distance of many tourist attractions.  They offer great drinks, pub food and wi-fi.  What more could you need after a visit to Glasgow Cathedral or before shopping at Princes Square?

Babbity Bowster

This place was packed with locals when I visited.  I did not eat here, but I stopped in for a beer while some of my group finished their dinner.  They all loved it and reviews claim it has some of the best authentic Scottish food in Glasgow.

Rab Ha’s Restaurant and Bar

Rab Ha’s is a restaurant and bar in a hotel near City Center.  Stop at the bar if you just want to chill and sip a Bellhavens Twisted Thistle or Caledonian Deuchars.

Other top local picks

There were a handful of places I was told I had to visit, but I ran out of time for them.  I highly recommend hitting up these places if you visit Glasgow.

Mother India Restaurant and Café

Someone in our group ate at both the café and restaurant because he loved their food so much.  Mother India seems to be a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

The Butterfly and the Pig

The Butterfly and the Pig is a world famous restaurant and tea room.  They offer rotating menus based on daily, local ingredients. In the tea rooms, they offer afternoon tea and high tea.

Two Fat Ladies Restaurants

Reservations are definitely required at all three Two Fat Ladies locations.  This is, from what I understand, the place for seafood in Glasgow.

Stravaigin

Online reviews pointed me to Stravaigin. Their motto is: Think Global, Eat Local.  While most restaurants seemed to employ this motto in their menus, this restaurant seems to be unique in terms of their menu’s diversity.  Stravaigin means “to wander” and they claim to be an open minded restaurant.  With diverse menus like the Vegetarian Wild Food menu, I would have to agree.

alexproaps

Alex is a full time Doctoral student studying Human Factors Psychology in Hampton Roads, Virginia. She is a locavore who believes in buying fresh food from local businesses whenever possible. Her diet might be considered pesco-lacto-ovo-vegetarian. She has a weak spot for IPAs, Pinot Grigio, and Manchego.

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