Wednesday, 19 July 2017

So… Just WHAT Is Private Dining?

Readers,  the joy of blogging is uncovering new and exciting food experiences.  Sometimes it’s the joy of educating others about my experiences and other times, it’s talking about new stuff!

Take for example, The Private Dining Directory.  It’s a one stop shop for all things private dining in the UK.   You can select by city, then venue and discover all the best private dining spots in your city (local or otherwise).

private dining directory

Alas, WHAT IS PRIVATE DINING, I hear you ask?   It’s not just for the rich and famous.  There are plenty of opportunities when private dining could be relevant. You’ve a group of customers coming up from London and you want to take them for dinner?  Why sit with everyone else, when you could have a room to yourself?   You want to treat the management team as they’ve worked really hard?  Make them feel special with a private dining experience.  Just got engaged?  It’s a great way to bring both families together and meet in a quiet space.  Congratulations on your engagement… suddenly it’s time for the hen and you’re a classy lady… why not consider private dining?  You get the picture.
The Private Dining Directory lists by occasion, so it’s not just personal events you can enquire about.  You can search for conference and meeting spaces, wedding venues and even a special place for a proposal.

The idea of this directory is really useful.  I’m currently engaged and searching for wedding venues in or near Glasgow was a case of check out what you know, then ask Google the rest.  For venues listed on the directory, it’s an easy way to see what they can do, approximate pricing and how many the venue can hold.  There’s the option to check availability if you’ve got a chosen date, or you can add a number of venues to the enquiry form and send out an enquiry to a few places if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

This is a great little resource for individuals searching for dinner somewhere different (a fair few of these have a small minimum of around 8 people – probably not that hard to get to) or could be useful for marketing, PR and corporate relations professionals looking to impress their colleagues with their knowledge of the local dining scene… just with a little help.

For more info, check out the directory's social pages on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is sponsored by The Private Dining Directory. 

Glasgow Living Part 24 – Lunch Menu at Ardnamurchan

Readers, as you’ve probably gathered, it’s been all go on the blog this month.  I’ve done a fair few reviews as well as recipe postings which has kept me busy.

Today I’m talking all things Arnamurchan – the amazing Scottish restaurant and bar at the top of Hope Street (across the road from the Theatre Royal). As a Scottish food blogger, it’s always an honour to be asked along to try out new places.

This was actually my second visit to the restaurant – a few weeks ago, I visited with some friends for the pre-theatre menu, booked through 5pm (honestly, try it, you won't be disappointed).  We had such an amazing experience, I was delighted to be invited back to review.  Pre-Ardnamurchan this place was a big pub that I’d never felt the urge to go into.  The new owners have invested heavily in the décor – moving the bar, exposing the brickwork, putting in industrial lights but still keeping a Scottish feel with just enough touches of tartan than it’s modern, not twee.
interior at ardnamurchan glasgow
Booths are available for larger groups

kitchen at arnamurchan glasgow
View to the open kitchen 

I had really high hopes for lunch here after our lovely dinner a few weeks previous – note – the wine list is fantastic and the guys behind the bar know their stuff – they’re well trained and polite. 

This time, as we were in for a lunchtime visit, I went purely for a soft drink and got stuck into their new lunch menu.   The choices are for 1,2 or 3 courses, starting at £7.95 for one course.  We’d definitely recommend the two courses at £9.95 – with the portion sizes, there was no way we’d have got to dessert as well.  We didn’t feel we needed it.  Quite a few dishes have supplements but these were only £1.00 each, so not breaking the bank if you do want to try some of the more premium offers. Although this could add up quickly, if you chose them for each course.

We both tried different starters – Mr WhatClaireBaked keeping it classic with chicken liver pate, toasted bread and fig jam.  Pate to bread ratio was great (he reported this back, we discuss it every time one of us orders pate in a restaurant). 
starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan

My starter was amazing – venison Bolognese hache – think venison meatballs, deep fried in breadcrumbs with a bolognese sauce.  They were SO GOOD.  Crispy outside, soft inside,  tangy sauce for dipping. Recommended as the stand out starter on the menu.

starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan
Next up, Mr WhatClaireBaked went for the venison burger served on brioche with a red onion relish and skinny fries – it came with a toasted bun and the venison was cooked properly – still pink in the middle.  It looked great, but for the purposes of avoiding “double venison” – I looked at it longingly across the table.

I love a chicken and bacon club – the Arndamurchan version came in a ciabatta rolls with mustard mayo and was also served with skinny fries. I went for this as my main.  It was incredibly filling and coupled with a decent sized starter, made for good value for less than £10 a head.

The waiting staff told us that the sticky toffee pudding was the best in Glasgow – we’ve yet to prove this, but if anyone else has been to Arnamurchan, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts!
lunch menu Arnamurchan Glasgow

Also for coeliac and gluten free friends – there are a few options for you which are highlighted on the menu.  Fear not!  

For more info, or to book, visit the website.  You can also keep up to date with the restaurant on Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was invited along to enjoy lunch for two in exchange for a review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Beer Snacks & Low Alcohol Beer with Krombacher

Readers, I’m back experimenting in the kitchen again as it’s officially Summer (also known in Glasgow as TAPS AFF) and beer and bbq season.   The lovely people at Krombacher were in touch recently, to see if I’d be willing to do some kitchen experiments with their low alcohol beer.

This is the first of two planned posts showcasing interesting things you can do with beer as well as drink it.  Take note, these recipes have both been made with Krombacher low alcohol products – from the biggest family owned and operated brewery in Europe.  You’ll find these beers to be produced according to the Germany Beer Purity Law of 1516.  Both the Pils and the wheat beer I’ve worked with here are low alcohol and actually taste like beer.

krombacher low alcohol beer

These are great for drinking as well as cooking – various statistics are showing adults are shunning alcohol or attempting to cut down as part of a healthier lifestyle.  In Scotland, we have fairly strict drink driving rules, so one of these low alcohol beers at an afternoon barbeque could be an option – especially when you’ve had too many carbonated soft drinks like you're at a a children’s party!

So as well as enjoying these as part of a low alcohol lifestyle, I’ve cooked up a few recipes to share with you all for Summer entertaining season – all perfect snack foods to enjoy with a low alcohol Krombacher or two!

Keep an eye on this great German brand by following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 

Beer Battered Fried Chicken with Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol

Ingredients (makes 8 pieces)
8 mini breast fillets
Plain flour for coating

Batter Mix
½ cup plain flour
½ cup Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol
1 egg beaten
3 cups veg oil for frying

  1. Dry off each chicken fillet with a paper towel then season with salt and pepper.  Then, coat each fillet in plain flour.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat one egg, add in the flour and Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.  Then dip each floured fillet into the batter, coating on both sides. Shake off any excess.  Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for ½ hour before frying to settle the batter.
  3. Next, add the oil to a DEEP heavy based sauce pan and heat the oil to 350F – check using a temperature proof kitchen thermometer.  Don’t let it get too hot.  Alternatively, if you have a deep fryer, you can cook in there (I don’t have one).  Please be careful handling pans of hot oil.  It can be dangerous. 
  4. Once the temperature is reached, aimed to maintain this during cooking.  Cook fillets 2-3 at a time, turning throughout cooking.  Cook time for breast meat should be 8-10 minutes. Turn during cooking.  Remove from pan using a slotted heat proof spoon, then drain on kitchen towel.  Cut through one of each to check meat is white and fully cooked.  Serve immediately with bbq sauce.
  5. Be careful – do not touch the oil and pan until it is fully cooled down and dispose of the oil responsibly.
    krombacher beer battered fried chicken

Mini Steak & Beer Pies with Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol

These take a good bit of time to prep but are worth it.  You might end up with leftover meat – fear not, it can be frozen and used at a later date.
krombacher mini steak pies

Ingredients – filling (will make a minimum of 10-12 mini pies)
400g diced beef
1 bottle Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol
2 beef oxo cubes
1 onion (sliced)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
Dash Worcester Sauce

1 egg beaten (for egg wash)
Pastry – 2 rolls of pre rolled puff pastry

  1. Slice the onion, add to a large heavy based pan and begin to fry and soften before adding the garlic.
  2. Toss the meat in plain flour and add to the saucepan, start browning. 
  3. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix, then straight after, add a full bottle of Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol.  Mix together and cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes.  Once starting to boil, transfer to a slow cooker and cook meat on low for around 7 hours.
  4. Once your meat is cooked, begin to assemble the pies.  Start by greasing a muffin tin and preheat your oven to 180c (fan).
  5. Take your pre-rolled pastry and cut out a large circle and a slightly smaller circle for the lid.  The large circle should fit in the muffin tin and reach the top on both sides. I used a wide topped cup as my guide and a narrower mug for the lid of the pie.
  6. From the two rolls of pastry, prepare 12 large and 12 smaller circles.  If desired, you can re-roll the pastry to make more. 
  7. Place each of the larger circles into the muffin tin to make a case, then spoon in your cooked meat to each to around ¾ full.   Next, using a damp finger, go around the top of each case and put on the smaller pastry circle – making sure it is well sealed to the case around all edges.
    How to prep and fill each mini pie
  8. Repeat with the remaining mix until all are topped and sealed.   Wash each with a pastry brush and beaten egg.
  9. Transfer to the oven, bake for around 20 minutes, or until pastry is golden and the meat is hot.
  10. Remove from the oven and muffin tin, then serve immediately.

Disclaimer – this post has been sponsored by Krombacher beers. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 23 – Afternoon Tea at Willow Tea Rooms

Readers, I took my mum on an adventure last week for afternoon tea at the Glasgow institution which is the Willow Tea Rooms.  They have two sites in the city centre – one on Buchanan Street (enjoyed by the tourists) and one within Watt Brothers on Sauchiehall Street.

We visited the Buchanan Street Tearoom and were seated upstairs in the Chinese tearoom – painted blue.  Go up the stairs and you’re treated to a two level tearoom, with Rennie Mackintosh inspired furniture and his signature style dotted throughout the venue. It’s incredibly traditional and charming, with the waitresses dressed in black dresses and white aprons.
Willow Tea Rooms
Interior of Willow Tea Rooms 

We went for the afternoon tea at £12.95 per person – which visitors flock far and wide for.   You start by choosing your tea from the vast selection of loose leaf (I went for the Cranston blend), then pick your choice of cake from the cabinet.  But more about the giant strawberry tarts later.

Our afternoon tea arrived shortly after, served on a traditional three tier display with finger sandwiches on the bottom.  Top marks to our lovely waitress who shared the selection of sandwiches with us when we ordered and allowed us to make a few swaps (we’re not a family of egg mayo lovers).    They were cut into dainty finger shapes, crusts removed and on fresh, soft bread. 
afternoon tea willow tearooms

afternoon tea willow tearooms

Next level up, our cream scones were waiting – a choice of plain or fruit – with traditional clotted cream and jam.   A little shortbread round was also on the plate, to enjoy with our tea.  After much debate on the cream versus jam, which goes first on a scone, we tucked in.  Let it be known that you’ll get proper home baking at Willow Tea Rooms. There’s no “bought in” cakes here.   It’s a real bugbear of mine when you go for an afternoon tea and are presented with untidy sandwiches and frozen cakes (I’ve been somewhere before, where there was definitely ice in the middle).  Not here though, the scones were home-made. 

Back to the strawberry tarts.  These things were HUGE.  We’re talking several strawberries, big dollops of cream, delicious short pastry and loads of strawberry tart jelly which I love. They easily filled the top level of the cake stand and were worth waiting for.  I always feel a summer isn’t complete without the arrival of a Strawberry tart (favoured around Wimbledon season, just in case you are wondering!)  For me, these were the highlight of the afternoon tea.
strawberry tarts the willow tearooms

Mum and I both enjoyed our visit to this Glasgow institution – a favourite with both locals and visitors to the city.  You’ll find Willow Tea Rooms Buchanan Street at Number 97 – towards the lower end of Buchanan Street - for people who are new to Glasgow.  Head up the stairs and you’ll be greeted by friendly waitresses showing you with a table.  Be prepared for a short wait if you haven’t pre-booked, especially during peak times in the day.  And don't forget to try the strawberry tarts! 

For more information, keep up to date with Willow Tea Rooms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer:  I was invited along to Willow Tea Rooms as a Glasgow Blogger to try their afternoon tea menu in exchange for a write up.  Any opinions expressed are my own.  

Friday, 7 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 22 - Dinner at Monty's Finnieston

Readers, I had a great start to my week of annual leave visiting new restaurant opening in Finnieston.  Many of you will remember Monty’s as the old Montgomery’s Café – a neighbourhood jaunt favoured by locals.  Under new management, Monty’s is now fully refurbed and looking fantastic.  It’s gone from neighbourhood café, to trend bistro with a fantastic menu, great chefs and really refined dishes.
Monty's Finnieston

We were lucky enough to be asked along to try out dinner at the newly refurbished venue and I’ll start by saying that this is one to watch in the area.  I think it could gain a great reputation very quickly.  The challenge will be getting the locals back in to see it in a new light.

Dinner started with an amuse bouche which was much appreciated whilst we waited on our starters coming.  I took a bit of time to check out the new décor – it’s got a real industrial feel with exposed brickwork, copper lighting and big wooden tables and booths.  There’s also a small bar through the archway and in the evenings, after food service, you can come in, grab a table and enjoy drinks.

Amuse Bouche, Monty's Finnieston

Our starters swiftly arrived – I went for the courgette and cheddar fritters, whilst Mr WhatClaireBaked went traditional with Scottish smoked salmon, capers and bread. Both were delicious, a decent size and hoovered up!   
starters monty's finnieston

starters monty's finnieston

The choice of mains was fantastic – ranging between £12 and £18 (roughly!) for a main course.  I had checked out the menu online and had my heart set on the venison loin which didn’t disappoint.  Delicious, rich, cooked pink and served with creamed savoy cabbage and bacon, with butternut squash.  The portion was just right – it was an incredibly rich dish, so I didn’t feel the need for more.  Mr WhatClaireBaked went for the chicken and risotto, which was equally beautifully presented and filling.  
venson main monty's glasgow

Not one to turn down dessert, I went for the cranachan – but a modern take on a cranachan – served as a parfait, with raspberry sorbet, homemade toasted granola and fresh raspberries.  Mr WhatClaireBaked struggled his way through ice cream, after saying he couldn’t manage dessert, then stared longingly at mine!!!!
dessert monty's glasgow

We were really impressed by Monty’s.  The menu is fairly Scottish, with decent sized portions presented stylishly in a great modern settting. If you are popping by, don’t forget to check out the huge world map on the ceiling – a relic from the old café.

You’ll find Monty’s on Radnor Street in Finnieston. They also offer a brunch menu and are open right through to late evening.  Why not visit their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Disclaimer:  I was asked to come for dinner for two in exchange for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 21 – Pre Theatre Menu at Alston Bar & Beef

Readers, I’ve had a great month of reviews and socialising with other bloggers.  I also love how much of a community there is in Glasgow.  

My latest adventure was to Alston Bar & Beef. Alston’s new manager was really keen to engage the blogger community, so brought in a few of us in small groups to try out their new pre-theatre menu.  I went along with Foodie Explorers and EmmaEats for a night of socialising!

One thing to be clear about – this is for people who lovvveeees their meat.  No rude jokes at the back please.  The clue is in the bar and beef name.  Alston for those of you who don’t know, is UNDER central station in Glasgow.  No joke.  You go in through the main entrance to Glasgow Central, it’s on the left, down the stairs.  Terribly unassuming from the outside, but once down underground, there’s some cool blue and purple lighting and a great buzz.

Don’t be put off by the fact it’s inside a train station.  This is NOT station food.

The set menu – pre/theatre is served Monday to Thursday 12pm to 6.30pm and Friday and Saturday between 12pm and 4pm.

We started our night with a cocktail each from the extensive menu.  I  love my gins as you probably know.  I started with a little raspberry gin cocktail (Raspberry Royale) before moving onto Argentinian Malbec to go with the steaks.
alston glasgow
Raspberry Royale Cocktail

I started with the tweed valley brisket and smoked cheddar croquettes (think posh potato croquettes) which were delicious.  Soft and smooth in the middle, then crispy on the outside.  I felt I couldn’t go to Alston and not order steak so went for a classic 227g bavette and chips.  I’d also recommend a focaccia to share at the table if you’re happy to get your carbs on. 
alston bar and beef glasgow starter

steak alston bar and beef glasgow

By this point I was starting to feel full and was concerned I wasn’t making it to dessert, but undeterred I continued on.  I cheated slightly, only going for lemon sorbet for dessert, but was assured by my dining partners that the poached pear and chocolate brownie on the menu were also delicious.

dessert alston glasgow

For value, you’re probably best going for at least 2 courses – one course will set you back £10, 2 courses are £13 and if you’ve room for dessert, 3 courses are £16.

I loved the vibe of Alston – the low lighting made it feel like a proper night out, even though it was a Thursday – and it was fairly busy around the bar and restaurant, creating a great atmosphere for everyone in the venue.
alston bar and beef glasgow

 For more info, visit the Alston website or visit their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Disclaimer: I was asked to visit Alston to review the new menu. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Glasgow Living Part 20 - Dinner at The Counter Custom Burgers

Readers, we tried another new experience last week.  Dinner at The Counter.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a custom burger joint and you’ll find it tucked in the corner of Springfield Quay in Glasgow.  It’s also the first UK franchise of The Counter, which is found across America and other cool locations like Dubai.
the counter glasgow inside sign

Fairly simple concept, go to your table, either order from the menu or, if you’re like us and enjoy variety, get your tick box notepad and pencil out and start selecting your protein, cheese, sauce, toppings, premium toppings and sides.  Single burgers and toppings are £9.50 and £13.50 for a double.  Sides are £3.25 each and you can also add premium protein or toppings if you are that way inclined (charges apply).
Pick a topping... any topping.

We really enjoyed our first trip – a special shout out needs to go to the tots we shared as a starter – bacon, spring onions, potato tots, cheese and ranch dressing arrived in a big bowl. There was more than enough for 2 people in there and was a great warm up to our burgers. 

the counter glasgow

The restaurant also has a varied drinks menu including a range of virgin cocktails.  We went mid week and I didn’t really fancy alcohol, so this was a nice alternative.  So often soft drinks are just a bit boring.
virgin mojito

The food came quickly, so if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat before going onto somewhere else, this is a good shout.  However, although it’s fast, the food is of a good standard.  A choice of buns were available  - including gluten free – and also, the venue serves halal meat, meaning it’s a great choice for large groups with various dietary requirements. On and when you choose your sauce it's served on the side.  #cleanhands

the counter glasgow
My burger - chicken, roast peppers, mozzarella, turkey bacon, side of fried onions and fries
The staff spent time taking us through the menu, checking our food was ok and made sure we always had drinks, but without being overbearing.  We also appreciated the chat with the Manager who gave us some background to the company and told us that the team were trained by the American arm of The Counter, to install the right vibe and values from the day The Counter opened.  
the counter glasgow
Inside The Counter

Some people may question the location – it’s definitely more premium than many of the other dining places at Springfield Quay and with that in mind, it’s worth making a special trip south of the River Clyde to visit.   It’s easily walkable from the city centre if you have 20 minutes to spare.

Glasgow’s had a great month of “firsts” and I’d recommend visiting this place whilst it’s the first of its kind in the UK (and I suspect it won’t be the only one within a few months!)

To find out more, be sure to follow The Counter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer:  I was provided a meal for two in exchange for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Top Tips for a DIY Wedding Cake

Readers, I know it’s a shock… but I baked recently.   It’s been a while. This was one ‘el of a bake.  Likely the biggest bake I’ve ever attempted.  Yes… it was a wedding cake.

Our lovely pals got married last weekend just outside Edinburgh.  For my international readers, it’s the capital city of Scotland.  It was a traditional Scottish wedding with kilts, pipers and toasts from a Quaich.   It also featured a very modern two tier buttercream wedding cake, with a Victoria sponge (for these purposes, named after our bride, not that Queen woman) and a vanilla sponge with coffee filling (the groom’s fav cake).

Anyway, as a fellow smug engaged person and with an army of people out there planning their own weddings, I thought I’d do you all the decency of sharing my top 10 tips for a DIY wedding cake.

All in, I went through so many emotions during this process but actually, the end result resembled a wedding cake. It was hoovered up by guests and it didn’t collapse.  In my eyes, that’s a victory for all the home bakers out there using their skills to make people happy.

two tier simple wedding cake

So in no particular order, here we go!

1. Don’t make your own cake.  Seriously. 

By all means, DIY, but find someone you know, like and trust to DIY it for you, either as a gift, or for mates rates.  Seriously, you’ve enough to worry about bride, nobody wants to spend the days in the run up to their own wedding measuring the heights of sponges.

2. Plan ahead

This was a godsend.  MAKE A TIMING PLAN.  3 months before the wedding I’d mapped out what I needed to buy, any equipment I was short of, how many days I needed to finish the cake and how I’d get it to the venue.  If you’re not sure how to tier layers, watch YouTube videos.  I cannot stress how important this stage is.

3. Freeze sponges

Nobody on the day came up to ask what day I made the sponges on.  Even as a two tier cake, there were 3 x 10in sponges and 3 x 8in sponges required.  Unless you’ve got an industrial oven at home, you’ll need a few days to make your sponges.  Leave plenty of time to cool them properly in the tins, finish on a cooling rack and when completely cold, wrap them in two layers of clingfilm, then a layer of tinfoil and store flat in the freezer.

Before starting to torte, fill and assemble, remove from the freezer, take off the tinfoil and defrost at room temperature still in the clingfilm.  Allow around 10 hours to defrost at room temperature.

4. Take measurements and make layers flat. 

You need each of your sponges to have a flat top.  Measure the heights of each and chop off any domed tops with a large serrated knife.  Saves you putting mountains of buttercream like plasterboard at the sides.

5. Buy a rotating turntable

Best £35 I’ve ever spent from Argos. Plug in, switch on and it rotates the cake for you.  Voila, two hands to get the frosting on with and to use your tools to make edges flat.

6. Don’t skip the crumb coat

Get your crumb coat on and in the fridge to set overnight.  This provides a nice even base for your frosting layer to go onto.  Worked a treat.

7. Use Lurpack butter and purple gel colouring

Wanting a pale ivory rather than an off yellow frosting?  Lurpack works well.  Beat the butter to make it smooth and if you need it a bit whiter after your buttercream is made, add in a few drops of purple gel colouring.  It’s cheaper than buying special whitener.  Add I slowly though, you don’t want lilac frosting, just enough to make it a bit paler.

8. Use scraping tools

Wanting a smooth finish, or a wavy edge… there’s tools available.  Silicone or plastic, smooth or wavy, you can buy edging tools.  Use them, nobody gets nice looking finishes by hand.

9. Provide your cake with the support it needs 

That cake weighed a lot.  Like your boobs, your cake needs a good support system.  Don’t scrimp on this bit, use a thick board on the base.   Learn how to use dowels.  I had these in the base, a thin board between each tier and used barbeque wooden skewers pushed down in three places in the top of the cake.  If you are worried about getting your dowels or skewers through the middle board, cut it in half and take half an inch off each side.  Leaves a gap in the middle to allow you to push your supporting dowels or skewers in.  GENIUS.

10. Transport carefully

Keep it somewhere cool – buttercream hates heat.  It was 27c on the day of the wedding (roasting for Scotland, cold for other readers) so we kept the cake in a cool place as long as we could before it went out on display.  Also, buy a proper tall cake box with a lid.  I got mine on Ebay and it provided me with a fitted, heavy edged box that I felt safe putting in the car.  No chance that cake was moving once it was cocooned inside.

For all of you making wedding cakes for family and friends, I'd love you to share your creations with me.  Good luck! 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Glasgow Living Part 19 – Blogger Event at Black Dove, Glasgow

Readers, apologies for the silence of recent.  May was incredibly busy and I was locked away (not literally) in the kitchen, prepping a wedding cake for friends.  The output was successful, but I’ll talk more about that separately in an upcoming post.

Last week I was delighted to be invited to the blogger event at Black Dove in Shawlands, to celebrate the launch of the new menu. For those of you who haven’t been yet, Black Dove does amazing small plate food for £5 a plate at lunch and £6 in the evening.  We were all invited along to try out some signature dishes, old favourites and newbies.  Black Dove are also famed for their delicious cocktail menu.
black dove new menu

It was lovely to get a squad of us together and I really enjoyed meeting some new faces at our table.  It ended up being a really sociable night – probably helped by the sharing plates we were given.

First out was a pork belly scotch egg served with chorizo jam and an apple salad.  It was delicious and although I’m not a big fan of eggs, I made sure to try it out!
scotch eggs black dove glasgow

In between courses, we tried a number of cocktails on the menu – if you are thinking of going, I’d highly recommend sampling the cocktails – Black Dove has a cracking mixologist behind the bar.

Another highlight for me was the ox cheek steak pie, sandwiched between buttery sheets of filo pastry.  The ox cheek was so tender, having been slow cooked for the dish.

A shout also needs to go to the slow cooked beef rending with crisp roti, kimchi and a yoghurt dressing.
lamb rump black dove glasgow
Lamp Rump (gluten free as well!)
However, the ultimate enjoyable experience were the dessert selections from the a la carte menu.  If you’re going for dinner, please, please keep room – even if you only sample one.  We tried a pineapple and raspberry layered dessert, a deconstructed cheesecake with homemade honeycomb and a chocolate pudding that melted in the middle, as soon as the spoon went in.   It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the deconstructed cheesecake probably just made first place!
dessert at black dove glasgow

dessert at black dove glasgow

You’ll find Black Dove on Kilmarnock Road in Shawlands – perfect for after work dining with a loved one, or for a small group celebratory dinner at the weekend.

For more info, visit their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the event to sample the new menu.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Glasgow Living Part 18 – Brunch at Cau

Readers, I’m mixing things up for you!  I know I’m usually all about the dinners out in Glasgow, but today I’m doing brunch.  Oddly enough it’s the first time I’ve EVER been for brunch in town, considering I spend 5 days a week working there.

We went for a 10.30 brunch at Cau – the Argentinian steakhouse on the corner of Ingram Street and Queen Street near to GOMA.    I’ve walked past so many times but never realised they had a brunch menu as well as lunch and dinner.
brunch menu cau glasgow

We kicked off our brunch with homemade smoothies – I went for the Very Berry whilst Mr WhatClaireBaked went tropical.  Smoothies are £3.75 each, are made fresh and it’s a biiiiig glass you get.
brunch smoothies cau glasgow

Usually I’d go for something “cooked” on a Saturday morning and although it was a dreich day, I wasn’t really feeling it.  I decided to try the coal roasted peaches, which arrived warm and a little charred with granola, yoghurt, honey and fresh lime leaves on top.  Unable to resist the sight of pancakes on the menu *disclaimer these were on the KIDS menu - I ordered two with dulce de leche.
peaches granola cau glasgow

dulce de leche cau glasgow

Back in 2011, Mr WhatClaireBaked and I went on our first holiday together to South America and I tried dulce de leche for the first time.  Ever since, I’ve gone out of my way to try and find places to order it from!  They arrived hot and covered in sweet, sweet sauce.

Not forgetting my dining partner – he went for the flatbread with chorizo, caramelised onion and mozzarella flatbread at £6.95.

flatbread brunch cau glasgow

The menu is good value – the most expensive thing is the full breakfast at £9.95.   We were also recommended the steak and eggs, which hopefully I’ll try next time we go. Coffees are priced around £2.50 and there’s a kids menu, making Cau suitable for families out and about in the city on the weekend, looking for somewhere to go.

It was fairly quiet when we went in, but I can imagine a great lively atmosphere when the restaurant is full.  We did find the background music quite loud – but this is likely due to the quiet time we visited more than anything else.  The staff were really helpful and didn’t rush us and we really liked the contemporary interior and cool, modern furniture.  The glass walls to the front of the restaurant are also great for people watching.
interior cau glasgow

Cau brunch is served from 9am on weekends and to find out more about their Glasgow branch, visit their social pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer:  I was provided brunch for two in exchange for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.