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When it comes to telling you about my most recent trip to Scotland I don’t really know where to start. It was a whirlwind three days of food, drink, food, jet skis, food, castles, food, whisky, falconry, food, spas, champagne, food, treehouses, food, whisky, helicopters and (in case I didn’t mention it already) food. The dishcrawl in Glasgow’s West End was one of the highlights!
On my tour of Glasgow and the West coast of Scotland I ate a lot more than my body weight in delicious Scottish salmon, oysters (they’re alright y’know!), more salmon and haggis. In between copious amounts of food I had a lot of brilliant moments such as; a helicopter ride over Glasgow, Loch Lomond and Loch Goil; lunch in a treehouse; and sleeping in President Eisenhower’s old room at Culzean castle.
For a country with a reputation for deep frying pretty much everything (deep fried pizza anyone?), Scotland has some exciting and talented chefs emerging. They’re taking things back to the land in an effort to showcasing what Scotland has to offer.
So, what better way to begin telling you about the brilliant moments to be found in Scotland than sharing the evening of the Glaswegian dishcrawl? Or, as it shall henceforth be known, the evening I became more stuffed than a turkey served for Christmas lunch.
What is a dishcrawl?
A dishcrawl is the foodies version of a pub crawl. It’s the new way to enjoy going out and currently happens in over 250 cities in North America as well as in Paris. VisitScotland set up a bespoke dishcrawl for us, where we could celebrate some of the best restaurants Glasgow has to offer.
Our tour in the west end of Glasgow would see us taste starters at Hanoi Bike Shop and scoff mains at the infamous Ubiquitous Chip before cramming in some dessert at Stravaigin.
For a city which has yet to secure its first Michelin Star, Glasgow sure has a lot of tasty restaurants and cafés to try. Food is made by chefs with a real passion for celebrating Scotland’s foodie fortunes. Something I love. I’m sure that Michelin Stars will be raining down on Glasgow’s streets very soon.
Starter, Hanoi Bike Shop
The vibe at Glasgow’s Hanoi Bike Shop, Glasgow’s first Vietnamese restaurant, is what I imagine the real Hanoi to be like: laid back yet vibrant.
The seating is casual, think stools and brightly coloured chairs and the atmosphere buzzing with guests tucking into the sharing dishes.
The menu and the décor have been carefully selected based on collective travel experiences and memories. If I was to have a restaurant it’s exactly how I’d want to go about decorating it.
Everything at the Hanoi Bike Shop is made from scratch: that includes the tofu and the fish sauce (just in case you’re wondering what that stinky sock smell is when you walk in!).
From Bahn Mis to Pho, rice paper rolls to tofu everything is fresh and tasty and the chilis pack a pleasant punch.
The Vietnamese spring rolls were my favourite but the real treat was the cocktails. Both the spicy gin cocktail and the ginger vodka cocktail went down far too easily.
Main, The Ubiquitous Chip
The Ubiquitous chip is a bit of an institution. Since it was opened by Ronnie Clydesdale on 11th January in 1971, ‘The Chip’ has won legendary status. A title it well deserves.
Creating a restaurant serving Scottish cuisine raised a few eyebrows. Some thought it daft, others though the idea of going to eat Scottish cuisine at a restaurant ridiculous.
Continually inspired by Scotland’s larder, The Chip has grown to become something of a Glasgow icon. Menus are dictated by the seasons (as they should be) and you can tell there’s a real love or Scotland and what it can offer in terms of produce.
Our main course was a beautifully presented selection of some of the finest Scottish seasonal produce; salmon, guinea fowl, minted peas, confit leg croquette and charred gem lettuce.
The wine was, as to be expected, of a great quality and the courtyard dining room was almost magical. Fairy lights lit up the trees and soft music complemented the chatter of happy diners.
The strap-line of Stravaigin, meaning ‘to wander’, is “think global, eat local”. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Glasgow’s Stravaigin, the last stop on our Dishcrawl.
The creators of Stravaigin’s menu started in Scotland. They began with award winning haggis, fish suppers, beautiful Scottish beef burgers, Islay scallops and Inverurie lamb. A small culinary hop and the menu starts to spice up a bit. Spice route curries, Thai style mussels and Asian noodle stir fries grace the menu too.
Teasingly, our dishcrawl took us to Stravaigin just for dessert. I thought I couldn’t manage another thing. An impressive looking jagged Vacherin was set down before me and I couldn’t resist.
Vacherin (not to be confused with the cheese; vacheron de voges), is a dessert made with meringue filled with whipped cream, fruits and ice cream. Ours had a crunchy biscuit-base and went perfectly with the sweet almost almond-y tasting dessert wine it was served with.
With the dishcrawl at an end it was time to rolling into the cars before collapsing amongst the cloud-like pillows at Cameron House on Loch Goil. They say the way to a (wo)man’s heart is through his stomach, it looks like Glasgow was trying pretty heart to make it into my heart…
Would you give dishcrawling a try? Which restaurants would you go to?