Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Glasgow restaurant review

Iberica Glasgow – Spanish Restaurant

What do you think of when you imagine Spanish restaurants in the UK? Unimaginative? Lacking authenticity? That has often been my experience in the past… the food has never been quite as delicious as you remember from that holiday in Spain. That was, at least, until I visited Iberica in Glasgow.

What. A. Treat.

The restaurant was busy with a great atmosphere; on a week night evening this is surely a good sign! It has a chic interior, dominated by dramatic light shades.

The menu is updated seasonally and the current offering is bursting full of fresh ideas and ingredients. The menu has a mix of classic and modern tapas.

We started with some olives, toasted bread with tomato and a platter of Juan Pedro Domecq Iberico ham. The ham comes from the black Iberian pig and is cured for a minimum of 42 months. It is easily the best quality ham that I’ve tried.

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Our charming and helpful waiter recommended a bottle of Tempranillo; a red wine from Ribera del Guadiana in the west of Spain. It was a great recommendation and the wine paired well with our food.

One of the seasonal dishes that the restaurant is serving is the beef tomato and salmorejo. Salmorejo is a puree similar to gazpacho and orginates from Cordoba in Andalucia. I recently visited the region and tried a few different takes on salmorejo; the Iberica version was different from what I tried but equally delicious. In fact, it was one of our favourite tapa of the meal. It was so fresh and the beetroot granita topping and contrasting textures made every bite interesting.

IMG_1409The cod brandada had the most eye-catching presentation and I’m pleased to say it tasted as good as it looked! The brandada is a kind of pureed cod with olive oil to which the vegetable crisps provided the perfect texture contrast.

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Another favourite was the crispy chicken; confit chicken thigh with romesco sauce and hazelnuts. The chicken thighs were tender and the sauce had a rich flavour.

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Finally, a special mention for the twice cooked lamb which picked up some of the Moorish influences in Spanish cooking. It was melt in the mouth delicious and served with tomatoes and red peppers. This is a must-have when you come to Iberica! It went perfectly with the Tempranillo wine.

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We finished with desserts (including churros!) and some accompanying sherries. A great reminder of my visit to the home of sherry; Jerez! Iberica is definitely my new go-to place when I want that authentic taste of Spain in the (slightly less) sunny Glasgow.

The Spanish Butcher Review

I’ve been keen to try The Spanish Butcher since it opened on Miller Street, Glasgow in December 2016 so I was delighted to be invited along this month to sample the pre-theatre menu. The people behind The Spanish Butcher own two of my favourite Glasgow restaurants; Hutchesons and The Butchershop so I definitely had high expectations!

My first impressions of the restaurant were good; I received a warm welcome and I really liked the stylish décor; dark green walls, lots of wood and plenty of candlelight. Even the toilets are swish looking!

While we looked at the menu we enjoyed some warm sourdough bread and THE most delicious olives I’ve ever tasted. The green gorda olives were juicy and perfectly marinated. There’s a big focus on produce and provenance at the restaurant; from the beef sourced from 12-14 year old Galician cattle from northern Spain to the 30 month matured authentic Jamon Iberico de Bellota. I found staff to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu.

There’s an extensive wine list with bottles ranging from £19 up to £425. There’s also a good selection available by the glass. We took a recommendation from our waitress and went with a nice smooth bottle of Rioja which was very enjoyable.image1

So on to the meal. To start, I had the confit pork belly stew with chorizo, morcilla, butterbeans and charred bread. My friend went for the Shetland mussels which were sautéed with chorizo, lobster stock, fennel and also served with charred bread. Both starter portions were generous. The pork belly was melt in the mouth and really tasty, if just a touch salty. The mussels were fresh and flavoursome and it was nice to have the bread to dip in the juices at the bottom of the dish.IMG_4816

Pork Belly Stew

Pork Belly Stew

For the main course, my friend chose the Galician hogget stew served with charred bread. In texture and flavour this had similarities to my starter and again was a little bit salty, but very tasty.IMG_4817

I opted for the Secreto Iberico de Bellota which comes with truffle manchego fries and Mojo verde. Secreto means “the secret cut” and comes from the acorn-fed Iberico pig. The meat was super tender and I would describe it as tasting like somewhere between bacon and steak.

The side of fries were something else; crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and the truffle flavour was complimented by the grated Manchego cheese.image3image2

So did The Spanish Butcher live up to my high expectations? Absolutely! Delicious food, a great selection of wine and enthusiastic staff. The lunch and pre-theatre menu is also excellent value at two courses for £15.

£20 lunch with bubbles at 111 by Nico

I recently tried out a hidden gem in the West End of Glasgow that I just had to share with you! 111 by Nico has been my favourite lunch this year and it is also incredible value. Their Taste lunch is available Friday to Sunday and for £20 you get an amuse bouche, three courses and a glass of prosecco. The menu is inspired by nature and designed to give you a taste of the garden, land and sea.

I started with a glass of fizz and an amuse bouche of mushroom consume. The consume was silky smooth; I could easily have had a full sized bowl of it and still asked for more! The restaurant had a great atmosphere and I enjoyed watching the open kitchen.amuse bouche

Next up was a goats cheese salad. The goats cheese mousse was incredibly light and fluffy and the walnuts and summer vegetables were a great accompaniment. You can add matched wines to the lunch for an extra £20 and I was served a fantastic South African white with the goats cheese dish.IMG_0811

It was then time for a taste from the sea in the form of a beautifully cooked piece of stone bass with mussels, pak choi and sweet potato. The fish had a nice crispy skin and I loved the slightly spicy Thai sauce. The matched wine this time was a refreshing white from Sardinia which was a great alongside the stone bass.

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The final savoury dish was a piece of pork belly and ham hough with apricot and beetroot. The slow cooked meat was really flavoursome and the crisp Cotes du Rhone red served with the dish was a perfect match.

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For a small supplement, you can add dessert to your lunch. Fresh strawberries, meringue, cream and prosecco jelly; what’s not to love? The dessert was not too heavy and satisfied my sweet tooth at the end of the meal.

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The restaurant has only been open for a year but has quickly built up a loyal fan base, the table next to me during lunch told me that they regularly travel from the other side of Glasgow to sample Nico’s delicious menu. Not only is he turning out exceptional food, Nico is an all-round good guy who is passionate about giving an opportunity to young people who’ve not had the best start in life. A prime example is Modou who is now head chef at the restaurant. Modou had been sleeping rough when he applied for a job as a kitchen porter and Nico, seeing his work ethic and determination, trained him up to be a skilled chef.

The Taste lunch is a great concept which translates even better on the plate. 111 by Nico is most definitely worth a visit; and is now a firm favourite on my list.

Chef Nico

Chef Nico in action

 

Byron Burger, Glasgow

Glasgow has a thriving burger scene where you can get every type of burger imaginable and all sorts of inventive toppings. But sometimes what you want is a proper hamburger. One that looks more like the classic American burger than a mountainous food challenge. That’s what you’ll get at Byron. They’re all about good quality British beef, cooked medium (unless you ask for it to be cooked differently) in soft squishy buns.

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I was invited along to try out the newly opened Byron on West George Street and the first thing that struck me was the friendly and enthusiastic staff; they genuinely wanted customers to have a great experience. The restaurant itself is really spacious and has a cool industrial vibe with exposed concrete walls and quirky touches.

We kicked off the meal with a generous portion of nachos and some tasty chicken wings with blue cheese dip. There’s currently eight beef burgers to choose from, plus a selection of chicken and veggie options. Mr GvF went for the Double Bacon Cheese and I opted for the Smoky which is a 6oz burger with cheddar cheese, streaky bacon, crispy fried onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce. I opted to ditch the lettuce and add some Freddar cheese. We need to talk about this cheese. So you know that American sliced cheese that melts really well? Well Freddar cheese is like that, except it tastes AMAZING! It’s a combination of Grana Padano, Red Leicester and mature Cheddar. It was invented by Byron Head Chef, Fred Smith, through a process of trial and error. Here I am with the Cheese Genius himself:

Fred Smith

So cheese aside, the burgers were delicious. They were cooked medium as promised and the flavours were great. The quality of the ingredients was really coming through. For sides we opted for courgette fries and sweet potato fries which both got top marks. I also cannot recommend the milkshakes highly enough, I had the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Shake and it was heavenly. There were lots of good chunks of peanut butter cup in there so you might need to ask for a spoon! There was a great selection of beers available for Mr GvF too.Byron Burger

In summary, Byron is in a great location, has friendly staff and excellent burgers and shakes!

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