Arranites who enjoy eating out in Glasgow will all have their favourite restaurants, and there are plenty of fine eating places to choose from, but for this reviewer there is no finer than Cail Bruich, a few doors down from the Oran Mor along the Great Western Road.
I first met chef Chris Charalambous when we were both on a wild food foraging course here on Arran several years ago, and Chris and his team have maintained a focus on creating a modern style of Scottish Cuisine, using the finest ingredients and produce from Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.
When we lunched there recently we chose from the Market Menu, great value at £25 for three courses. After two amuse-bouches and great sourdough bread with interesting butters (a small gripe here; the second amuse-bouche was meaty and served to us both, when it should have been obvious that Sue was only ordering non-meaty dishes), my starter was venison tartare with hazelnuts, mushrooms and coal oil. The meat was exquisite, tender, flavoursome, and given a tiny twist of charcoal nuttiness by the oil and hazelnuts. Sue started with beetroot, yoghurt, and elderberries, sprinkled with lovage ‘dust’ to “almost magical effect.”
She followed this with polenta gnocchi, griddled shavings of sweetcorn, lashings of wild mushrooms, deliciously nestled amidst goat’s curd and crunchy with chopped hazelnuts. “A fantastic blend of textures and flavours.” My main was partridge with black pudding, chicory, damson and chestnut. The meaty game and tasty black pudding was set off perfectly by the autumnal flavours of the chicory, damson and chestnut.
I am always surprised at Cail Bruich that although the portions seem small as they come to the table, the freshness and intensity of flavour means that after two courses I am quite replete. Nevertheless in the interest of reportage we forced ourselves to tackle dessert. In my case this was warm artichoke cake with pear and a thin wafer of toasted barley, a delicious if puzzling combination given that I couldn’t detect the artichoke, while Sue could not resist valrhona manjari chocolate with coffee and hazelnut – “the most perfect pudding I could ever have imagined!”
With imaginative cooking of excellent ingredients and incredible attention to detail, accompanied by impeccable service, this adds up to the most Michelin star – like restaurant (in the best sense of the term) that I know of that doesn’t actually have one (a Michelin star, that is.)
Cail Bruich, 725 Great Western Road, Glasgow. 0141 3346265. www.cailbruich.co.uk.
Lunch for two with wine £83.