gorgeous food in glasgow

october 2009: updated reviews here.

i’ve just spent a whirlwind girls’ weekend in glasgow and have eaten the most wonderful food as a result.

for supper on saturday night we went to arisaig, which is a glamorous but entirely unstuffy restaurant that serves scottish food. apparently it’s inspired by childhood holidays to the west coast village of the same name.

to start, linda and i had loch leven surf clams tossed in extra virgin olive oil with fresh dulse seaweed. i have never before eaten such fat, flavoursome and obviously fresh clams and the salty seaweed was a great contrast with the grassy olive oil.

jude’s starter was stornoway black pudding fritters (so beautifully flavoured, full of dark meaty richness) with onion gravy and as a bonus to-share-starter we also ordered grilled arran mist soft cheese on toasted bread with sweet beetroot and honey oil. the cheese was delicious but the oil-soaked bread was a little heavy for my liking, i’d have preferred something which retained a bit of crunch and contrasted with the rich melting cheese.

my main course was the most delicious dish i’ve eaten recently. the scottish coastal shellfish and fish brose was a selection of shellfish and fish poached in roast tomato and oatmeal fish stock, which had a light curry flavour, and was served atop potato and kale mash. the seafood was immaculately cooked, fresh and full of flavour and the combination of the light tomatoey curried broth and the comforting stodge of the mash worked really well. i finished my dish, wiped the bowl clean with some bread and was ready to start eating it all over again.

jude’s choice was less over-whelmingly wonderful. she chose the scottish sea and land board which comprised loch etive oysters, smoked salmon, marinated mussels & prawns, rannoch smoked chicken and venison, haggis, arran blue and oatcakes with relish.

the oysters were apparently wonderful (she wasn’t in a sharing mood!) and the haggis delicious with it’s deep intensely peppery flavours. sadly the chicken had nary a taste of smoke about it and marinated seafood was flavourless (a discount from the final bill was given as a result). the cheese didn’t really work with the other flavours and ended up being pushed aside. linda’s choice was the beef, which she enjoyed but i didn’t try, being too ensconced in my brose.

i was too full for pudding but linda and jude braved their respective choices of chocolate cairgein seaweed pudding (the seaweed is used as a setting agent in the same way that gelatine would be and doesn’t affect the flavour) and stag's breath crannachan with orkney fudge ice cream and raspberry sauce. neither pudding floated my boat (not chocolatey enough in one case and too rich and cream in the other) but both were eaten and the glasses scraped clean so they can’t have been that bad…

the other thing about arisaig that is worth mentioning is the fantastic service linda received when she asked the manager to help her select a couple of different whiskys to try. having discussed what she liked, a selection of 7 or 8 bottles appeared on the table which they went through together before she selected her favourites.

with 1 bottle of wine and three whiskys in addition to the food, we each paid c£45 a head – good value in my opinion and when i’m back in glasgow i shall be returning to try out some of the other items on the menu.

i’ll also be returning to left bank, a small restaurant which recently won an observer food monthly award for best cheap eats, and where we had a fabulous breakfast on sunday morning. the homemade baked beans, herby mushrooms and scrambled eggs were my particular favourites.

arisaig bar and restaurant

140 st vincent street, glasgow g2 5la

0141 204 5399


the left bank

33-35 gibson street, glasgow g12 8nu

0141 339 5969