The Townhouse on Buchannan Street has undergone a truly breathtaking transformation into the largest Thai restaurant in Europe, Chaophraya. Admittedly this didn’t really impressive me. Truthfully I couldn’t shake its previous life as a jumbled shop.
But when I enter the impressive lobby adorned in luxurious décor and stunning chandeliers – with an elephant thrown in for good measure – well, all memories of its previous incarnation fade from my memory.
The service is very attentive – in fact, we’re escorted up the main staircase to our table. And even though it’s spacious with high ceilings and vast fireplaces, the dining area somehow still manages to feel intimate and welcoming.
The menu is huge with a great selection for all appetites, including veggies. I cannot resist the Tempura Prawns (£8.50) to start, followed by Seua Rong Hai, Weeping Tiger (£15.95).
Yes a little on the expensive side, but the total experience is lush and the food lives up to the surroundings – in a word – exquisite. Not only does each dish look amazing but it taste sensational, the perfect fusion of competing flavours in every mouth-full.
Decadent, delicious and definitely worth trying again
The whole experience feels very decadent – a spectacular setting, gorgeous food and dutiful staff. And you can continue your night in the Palm Sugar Lounge or for something a little more intimate book rooms for private dining. And for the romantics, there’s even a balcony for two!
But be warned, Chaophraya isn’t a secret and you’ll definitely need to book to avoid disappointment. The truth is in the tasting – but it’s not just food. The spectacular setting and the lovely staff make it utterly perfect.
Every now and again a very special day pops up – one that deserves equally exceptional food.
However, if like me, you’ve previously overlooked French cuisine dreading overly rich dishes and a stuffy experience, Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or will change your mind. This award-winning French restaurant on West Regent Street boast a menu brimming with alluring choice and the friendly attentive staff are – well – the pièce de résistance.
Passionate about food
The warm, inviting surroundings perfectly match Brian Maule’s passion for food – apparent in every delectable bite. And fresh local produce and an ever-changing menu keep things fresh.
The scallops with fettuccine and herb butter sauce starter sets the scene for everything wonderful to follow; it is both impressive and exceptional. And my grilled salmon is melt-in-the-mouth good.
Dessert is a must
Perfect portions means there is room for dessert. And when the food is this fantastic, it’s wrong to say no.
And so I happily say yes to a delectable sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. There are no words to justify how delightful it is – other than, you must try this before you die. Admittedly this doesn’t stop me from eying and trying my companion’s equally luscious crème brulee with hints of vanilla. Delish.
Admittedly extraordinary food like this comes at a price. However, the special lunch and pre-theatre menu is another great way to sample the extraordinary wares without breaking the bank. Two courses come in at £18.95 or you can enjoy three courses for £21.95.
No thorns, only fabulous fodder
So for all those special days – the Golden Thistle (Chardon d’Or) is an absolute treat – no thorns only divine, delicious food that totally wows.
Admittedly I’ve been admiring Ingram Wynd for a quite a while. In fact, it all started last summer on one of those rare sunny days when the lure of their patio was nearly irresistible. Unfortunately I managed to miss the 2012 four-day summer window and got rained out.
And although it was a cold crisp winter day that got me through the doors, their inviting surroundings and charming staff instantly made me feel warm and welcomed.
Victorian chic – without the stuffy
Mingling plush Victorian surroundings with the right twist of modern, this cosy bistro is a true gem. And their delicious food is the perfect fusion of Scottish fare and contemporary culinary delights.
Do have dessert
Their menu offers endless choice, but their beautifully presented (and tasty) haggis starter and cooked to perfection (fish of the day) cod in a tomato reduction is quite simply exquisite.
And do have dessert – because the mixed berry Cranachan with whiskied oats and cream is quite possibly the best in town. This food is meant to be absolutely savoured. And that’s exactly what we do.
Full up and completely contented, there’s no choice but to retreat to the down stairs salon – an elegant hide-a-way perfect for enjoying an after-dinner digestif and telling all your secrets.
A starter, two mains, dessert, a few glasses of wine and a gin later is a more than reasonable £30 (including tip) on 5pm, making the entire experience all the sweeter.
Like an old friend
Ingram Wynd has a wonderful familiar feel that will definitely draw as back time and time again. But don’t wait for summer – get out of the cold and treat yourself to absolutely enjoyable food in a chic yet comfortable locale.
Admittedly I have absolutely no idea what to expect from Vietnamese food – but I do know one thing. The Hanoi Bike Shop is serving up some of the tastiest, flavourful food in Glasgow. Created by food-loving travellers, it’s simply brilliant.
‘Street food’ served with a smile
This Vietnamese inspired ‘street food’ is absolutely delicious – even better, it’s served by some of the friendliest staff in the city.
Recommending one dish over another is nearly impossible – but the Sa Dau Phu Rau Tron (lemongrass marinated bike shop tofu), Ari Rich Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime Leaf Curry and Cha Ca Turmeric Marinated Coley (served with dill & crushed peanuts) are so fantastic, it’s wrong not to try them. In fact, I’m convinced they’ll make you a better person.
Star light, star bike
If you haven’t been yet, why? Because it’s an absolute must.
A charming interior is just another added bonus – downstairs is a cosy wee snug and upstairs is a magical paradise of colourful lanterns and bikes.
If the Hanoi Bike Shop is anything at all like Vietnam, then both my tastebuds and curiosity are intrigued.
And if your New Year lacked that spectacular something, then celebrate Tet (Vietnamese New Year) with mouth-watering food at Hanoi on Sunday 10 February.
It’s cold – literally freezing.
And sometimes when the weather is nippy the only way to satisfy my hunger is with hearty fish and chips. But not the gloopy frozen variety – only fresh, crispy, cooked-to-perfection goodness will do.
Tucked away on West Campbell Street is the Red Onion – a welcoming eatery with all the charm of a family-run restaurant without being dowdy in the least.
In fact, it’s deliciously contemporary with a menu brimming with choice. Mouth-watering lamb tagine, tasty steak frites and creamy wild mushroom risotto are some of the temptations on offer.
But no matter how enticing, I’m set on fish and chips and that’s exactly what I get…after I warm up my palate with the flavourful French onion soup. My main is fresh, flaky haddock paired with perfectly-cooked chips – all I hoped for and more. And the appetising food is made all the more enjoyable by attentive, friendly staff.
Dessert is a must
The icing on the cake is the absolutely divine dessert.
Red Onion’s hot chocolate brownie with honey comb ice-cream is a must. In fact, I’m convinced the world’s a better place because of it.
Three courses on the pre-theatre menu at just under £17 – not bad at all.
December is probably only going to get colder and certainly more chaotic as we head into festive pandemonium. So go on, take shelter from the outside and do something good for your insides – warm up in welcoming surroundings and treat your tastebuds to something utterly delightful.
The days are getting shorter and there’s a definite nip in the air. And this rain isn’t helping anything. So I decide to shake off the autumn chill with something spicy and sensational by heading to Thai Lemon Grass* on Renfrew Street.
Admittedly from the outside Lemongrass is pretty easy to overlook or even write off completely. However, inside, beyond its comparatively plain exterior, I’m greeted by attentive friendly staff and warm inviting surroundings.
Nestled in one of the comfy booths, we’re treated appetising prawn crackers and a mouth-watering menu brimming with choice. It’s the perfect combination of old favourites like Thai fish cakes, green curry and spring rolls fused with new enticing dishes like Thai monkfish curry. And that’s exactly what we order.
Everything is beautifully presented little works of culinary art that tastes as good as it looks.
Still, it’s hard to decide which of our starters is champion – the delicate fishcakes are cooked to perfection with a cool refreshing sauce that melts-in-the-mouth. And the equally tasty veggie spring rolls are bursting with flavour, and refreshingly are not greasy in the least.
The Thai green curry is the perfect fusion of savoury and sweet, with hints of coconut, lime and spice. Although more tangy and textured, the hearty monkfish curry is equally as tantalising and has our tastebuds buzzing with delight.
A round of drinks, two starters and two mains roll in at just over £45 – worth every penny. So if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the chill and totally satisfy your appetite – look no further.
And remember, don’t judge a place by its exterior or risk missing out on all the flavourful wonder-food awaiting you inside.
*24 Renfrew Street, G2 3BW Phone: 0141 331 1315
Sundays are made for savouring chocolate delights….