In the event that you need to find crisp new takes on nourishments and drinks in Glasgow, Scotland, the best spot to head is Finnieston, a minor pocket of cool on the north bank of the River Clyde.
After the shipbuilding industry left Glasgow in the ’60s, this neighborhood turned into a bit of an industrial wasteland sandwiched between downtown Glasgow and the city’s hip, thriving West End. In the past five years, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs have turned this small ‘hood into a foodie paradise.
Here’s where you should go to eat when you’re visiting the city.
The Gannet’s tasting menu starts with snacks: pork bonbon topped with apple mousse and brioche with cheddar — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Eating at The Gannet is a truly beautiful culinary experience where they decide what you’re going to eat, and your only option is whether to have four or six courses of their wonderful seasonal menu. My meal there started with snacks – a tiny brioche topped with airy gratings of strong local cheddar and a pork bonbon with apple mousse – before leading into the superb proper courses.
There was halibut with horseradish, kombucha, gorse, mooli, and wild herbs, followed by Hereford beef carpaccio topped with tasty nut and seed granola, cheddar and watercress. That was followed by hogget (young sheep, not quite a lamb, not quite mutton) with eggplant, miso, and kidney fat sauce.
Two desserts were served (our kinda menu!). First up was a whipped yogurt with rhubarb granita and crisp meringue, then a molten salted caramel bomb.
The Gannet is one of those restaurants that you never quite get overeating at.
Hidden Lane Tearoom
The Wee Tea (smaller version of afternoon tea) at the Hidden Lane Tearoom — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Started 10 years ago, before Finnieston was cool, the Hidden Lane Tearoom is tucked into the corner of Hidden Lane, an alley filled with artist studios and indie businesses. Go there for an afternoon tea of little sandwiches and delicious cakes served on mismatched vintage china, scones with clotted cream and jam, and all manner of other home-baked treats.
I opted for the Wee Tea, which was perfect for one, and loved the egg salad, hummus with wafer-thin slices of pickled beet, and coronation chicken sandwiches. I chose a white chocolate raspberry scone, then loaded it with cream and jam, washed down with lavender Earl Grey. Perfection.
Rhubarb crumble and custard by the fire at the lovely Kelvingrove Cafe — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Take a seat by the roaring fire at the lovely Kelvingrove Cafe, housed in an old pub and still feeling very pub-like – there was a shaggy black terrier asleep at his owner’s feet, something I’d forgotten was common in the UK.
Head there for a traditional Scottish breakfast complete with black pudding, bacon, potato scones, and eggs. Or sample something trendier, such as their purple sprouting broccolini with king oyster mushrooms, spinach, romesco sauce with soft-boiled eggs and almonds.
Gillian McIntyre, co-owner of Mayze with a vegan haggis roll (a best seller) — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Opened in July 2018, Mayze is the place to go if you’re vegan but really want to know what haggis tastes like. Their vegan haggis, haggis rolls, and sausage rolls offer a delicious meat-free way to sample classic Scottish fare.
“Finnieston is becoming a foodie destination and felt like the right place to open somewhere where we’d be doing something different,” says Mayze co-owner Gillian McIntyre. “Glasgow is known for its deep-fried and heart-attack inducing foods, but they are actually really embracing vegan cuisine here, and I’d say 50 percent of our customers are not vegan but just looking to eat a little healthier,” she says.
Seb & Mili
Barista Vince Polo with the house-baked treats and delicious lunches at cool little cafe Seb & Mili — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
This tiny cafe housed in a historic building is adorable – all whitewashed brick and vintage fixings. They bake all their brioche, bread and cakes in-house, and excel at breakfast and brunch stuff, such as their Royal Benedict with house-cured gin and beetroot Scottish salmon.
Seb & Mili is the perfect place to chill with a book on a rainy day and enjoy locally roasted coffee with a treat.
Ox and Finch
White hake on a bed of spicy chana dal with hibiscus yogurt and cucumber at Ox and Finch — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Embracing Middle Eastern and Indian influences, Ox and Finch are doing very special things with local ingredients. Advised to order two small plates, I went with poached hake with chana dal, hibiscus yogurt, and cucumber, followed by venison carpaccio with juniper and peppercorn, hazelnuts and crowdie. Both were wonderful.
When I asked what crowdie was, server Mick McGinley told me it was a Scottish soft cheese, “Traditionally eaten with oatcakes before heading out to a cèilidh, to line your stomach before drinking all the whiskey.”
Crabshakk’s cod cooked in buttermilk with asparagus, leeks, and crisp shoestring potatoes — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Come here to sample the very best of Scottish seafood, cooked in imaginative ways. Offering everything from langoustines and shellfish to whole fish (on their specials menu), it was hard to choose what to order, but I went with a silky smoked mackerel pate served with oatcakes and pickled cabbage, followed by cod cooked in buttermilk with asparagus and leeks – both were excellent.
My server recommended that I save room for their vanilla panna cotta, and despite thinking I’d just try a few bites, I had to, of course, finish it because it was so good. Crabshakk is small and very busy, but well worth trying to get a table.
Coffee Chocolate and Tea
Best-selling carrot cake at Coffee, Chocolate, and Tea — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
The heady aroma of roasting coffee beans hits you the second you open the door to this tiny shop. Coffee Chocolate and Tea has been roasting coffee for nine years now in Finnieston, and they sell their blends alongside loose-leaf tea, handmade chocolates and delicious cakes (with their huge slabs of moist carrot cake topped with cream cheese icing being a firm customer favorite).
It is well worth stopping here to grab a bag of beans to take home with you.
Alchemilla’s grey mullet ceviche with orange and chili. — Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown
Serving up shared plates of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, Alchemilla has a cool modern vibe (lots of laminated blonde wood and bright orange splashes against the whitewashed brick, low-fi techno playing in the background) and a bar that leads into an open kitchen.
The menu is fresh and seasonal, and very tasty. My grey mullet ceviche with orange and chili was so good that I had to get bread to soak up every last drop of the dressing.
Porter & Rye
The Sunday roast at Porter & Rye, complete with a massive Yorkshire pudding — Photo courtesy of Porter and Rye
The place to come for a sophisticated take on a traditional Sunday roast, Porter & Rye is known for their amazing beef. Steaks are dry-aged a minimum of 40 days, but you’ll often find special cuts offered that have been aged up to 160 days.
Other dishes use ingredients such as venison and wood pigeon, and decadent sides include bone marrow mac and cheese and ox cheek stovies (a traditional Scottish potato dish made with meat fat and sometimes meat).