Basking in beauty in Glasgow – look, it’s all around…
Normally I wouldn’t get excited about fish and chips….because really depending on your taste and possibly how much alcohol you’ve had, one take away is just as good (or bad) as the next. Isn’t it?
Well no. Or at least not if Merchant Chippie is anything to go on.
Located on the tip of Ingram Street and the High Street, this isn’t your average chippie. For one it’s sparkly new and boasts fresh fish brought in daily from Aberdeen and Anstruther – home of the legendary ‘best fish and chip bar’ in Scotland… well for now that is.
Fresh fish galore
But my enthusiasm isn’t just because of the glossy newness of the place, or the friendly staff or even the fresh fish (though all of this is appreciated) – my excitement stems from the vast selection of delights from the sea.
In addition to the usual haddock fish and chips (£2.95), they offer the most delicious cod supper. Yes admittedly more expensive at £6.30 but less than restaurant prices and arguably fresher and just as tasty.
My cod is light, flaky and cooked to perfection – definitely the best fish supper I’ve had in Glasgow. In addition to cod – they also offer sea bass, pollock, and salmon to name a few – all at around £6.30.
So the next time you’re in the mood for fantastic fish and chips but don’t fancy mushy frozen goo, make your way to Merchant Chippie. And be prepared to be wowed, even more so if you swap the standard haddock for tasty cod or one of their other fresh seafood fare.
An old friend’s visiting from out of town and I want to take her somewhere for dinner that truly captures Glasgow. Stravaigin on Gibson Street prides itself as ‘one of the best restaurants’ in town promising Scottish produce and serving world cuisine – it has a “Think global, eat local” philosophy.
The bar is a buzz of chatter, music and lots of cheery smiles. The restaurant is brimming over and so we’re seated at the last free table in the cosy cafe bar, which shares the same menu but has the bonus of being on a balcony overlooking the bar. A perfect spot where we can enjoy the atmosphere above the hubbub.
Truthfully, some of the best food in Glasgow
Stravaigin is telling the truth – the food is some of the best in Glasgow. It’s fresh, lovingly made perfection. Spiced Pumpkin croquettes with feta and walnut stuffing are gorgeous bundles of taste. And the seared sea bream fillet and confit ratte potatoes in seafood bisque are divine. (Starters average £5.50 each and mains range between £9-16).
Conversation flows as fluidly as the Chenin Blanc. We get side-tracked from the desserts by the long list of ports on offer. Truthfully I don’t know anything about port but the very patient waitress kindly recommends one. We share melt-in-your-mouth cheeses, from the soft to the smelly, accompanied by a very civilised glass of port, followed by a not so civilised second glass.
It’s the perfect setting to catch up with an old friend and savour delicious food and drink while reminiscing. Our bill comes to £88 all in. Admittedly the four glasses of port boosted the cost but it’s money well spent – impeccable service, delectable food in a welcoming, relaxed setting. What’s not to love?
And if you’re still looking for something to do to celebrate the Bard, you might still be able to snap up a ticket at their ‘Unconventional Burn’s Night’ that explores haggis from around the world and compares it to their very own Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race.
Monthly Meander – explore world food
If you have missed out on Burn’s night, don’t fret because Stravaigin regularly puts on ‘monthly meander’ nights that invite you to explore food from around the world without the expense of an airline ticket. Fantastic!
So let your tastebuds wander, you’ll be glad you did!
As the name suggest, Tuesdays at Sloan’s offers a night of film coupled with hearty pub grub that won’t break the bank. It’s free entry for the film and then completely up to you as to how much you eat, drink and spend. Fill up on a scotch pie (£5.95), fish and chunky chips with tartar sauce (£8.95), rocky road brownie (£4.95) or there’s bags of pick & mix for a fiver for the more traditionalist film-goer.
Orders are taken, candles lit and it all has a kind of cabaret feeling. Once we’ve devoured our meals, tables are cleared and the big (little) screen lights up.
Tuesday blahs banished
The Jungle Book leaps off the screen and I’m reunited with some of my childhood favourites Baloo and Mowgli; instantly the Tuesday haze is lifted. Eat Film is about the experience rather than gourmet nosh. And what a great experience.
But if a cartoon dancing bear and a fussing panther aren’t your thing, you might be enticed by one of Eat Film’s other eclectic choices. Upcoming film nights include Bambi, Boogie Nights and one of my all-time favourites Amelie!
So go on, do something different and shake up your Tuesday. Everything kicks off at 7pm but definitely call ahead (0141 221 8886) or book online to avoid disappointment – because seats are limited.
So much more than film…
As Glasgow oldest pub – and not to be outdone – Sloan’s boast a healthy events calendar, including one of the liveliest Ceilidhs in town, Thursday’s ‘bad boy’ pub quiz night and for all those still wondering where to celebrate the bard and address the haggis, look no further than here on the 25th .
Admittedly it’s not every day that people get excited about their weekly shop. But hear me out.
On a quest for healthy food after the excesses of Christmas I found myself in on the South Side of Glasgow in Giffnock. At the end of what feels like the longest road is bright lights shining big, bold and welcoming. Simply put, this is not just M&S – because it’s not M&S. It’s Wholefoods.
I am Alice in healthy Wonderland where samples of food with Eat me and Drink me entice me to try wonderful things like blood orange juice and butterscotch chocolate. And here bigger is better – in the distance I see colossal balls of cheeses and huge perfectly formed meringues. Heavenly!
No ordinary peanut butter
Even better are the clever gadgets to make buying your food that much more interesting. Wee porcelain scoops for the spices actually work out much cheaper than the supermarket, 69p/100gms chilli powder.
My personal favourite gizmo is the churning machine that allows me to magically turn (churn) peanuts into peanut butter – and for the more discerning taste there’s cashew butter!
The helpful man working behind the fish and meat counter – who rushes to my rescue when I’m in danger of walking away without pricing up my spices and peanut butter – is reflective of the friendly accommodating staff at Wholefoods.
Satisfy your soul and your sweet tooth
And if after roaming around the wares your appetite is awakened, appease your hunger at the far side of the shop boasting a comfy café and a selection of stalls, a delicatessen and you can even create fresh sandwiches or build tortillas. And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth at the decadent cake counter – rocky road and bumpy brownies galore.
I leave Wholefoods feeling remarkably ‘whole’ with my bag full of carefully selected goodies, but £20 poorer – admittedly the jury is still out on whether I’d shopped wisely. Among my finds I seem to have acquired two random coconuts obviously bought in the height of excitement.
I am greeted by an extraordinary selection of sweets and wonderful aromas. Tapa coffee and bakehouse in the South Side of Glasgow is heaven on earth – especially for any bread-loving, café enthusiast like me.
It’s a busy, bustling cheerful place and popular with young, old, families and friends alike. It has an everyone-is-welcome kind of feeling – my kind of place.
Delicious soup, sandwiches and so much more
Although this award-winning café specialises in appetising sandwiches served on a variety of enticing homemade organic breads, I cannot pass the up their puy lentil and pine nut burger on focaccia served with a side of relish and tobbouleh (£7.95). This is only perfected by possibly the best chips I’ve ever had. Ever.
Their hearty breakfast (£8.25) is also highly recommended or of course there’s a the slew of unique sandwich selections ; you probably won’t find the ingenious grain mustard, red onion relish, veggie sausage and sliced egg anywhere else.
No ordinary bread – ‘you’re in for a treat’
Although sadly we are too stuffed for dessert, we cannot leave without getting a loaf of bread to take away. After much debate over the rye, sourdough, and even malted pumpkin seed, we opt for sunflower wholemeal. Our very friendly server assures us that we are ‘in for a treat’ – and he is so right. This is not just any bread – it’s life-invigorating, grainy goodness.
So all you West End or City Centre dwellers who never venture far from your spot – I assure you that making the short trek across town to this South Side treasure on Pollockshaw Road is worth it!
Their acclaimed espresso blend coffee, scrumptious cakes, breads and wonderful staff and surroundings will not disappoint – and will certainly entice us back time and time again.
And next time I’m having dessert!
What does Tokyo, Havana and Glasgow all have in common? Well, according to The New York Times we’re one of the 45 must see places of 2012.
And we couldn’t agree more.
But of course you don’t need one of the most-read Pulitzer Prize winning newspapers to tell you this. Quite simply Glasgow is fantastic. Still – it’s nice to be sited as a respectable 12th on the esteemed list.
And while we aim to highlight all those wonderful must-see and do places in glorious Glasgow – understandably we also know that after the Christmas extravagance, January can be penny-pinching time.
Glasgow the fresh and free
Steeped in history it offers fantastic views, extensive rose gardens and if you wonder up to the Glasshouse, you can check out exotic wildlife (fish, birds and reptiles), foliage and various flowering plants.
And what better way to use up stale bread than on feathery friends. I was treated to a swan show complete with a backdrop ballet performed by mallards, tufted ducks and a variety of other creatures of the winged variety.
Detox your wallet, replenish your soul
So don’t suffocate inside lamenting a diminishing bank account – get out, breathe in the new year in fresh crisp air. Detox your wallet and replenish your soul at Queen’s Park or one of Glasgow’s many other outdoor wonders.
2012 is the year to explore Glasgow! And with over 90 parks and gardens throughout the city – there’s ample choice, something for everyone and really no good excuse not to.