Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
January 27, 2018

Alchemilla, Glasgow, restaurant review

A meal at Alchemilla on Glasgow's Finnieston strip will cure all ills, discovers Gaby Soutar

Women’s problems?

Then put down your embroidery and reach for a cup of lady’s mantle tea.

This herb is supposed to help when it comes to menstrual and menopausal symptoms, and all those other things that make unreconstructed men (and women, to be honest) squirm.

The scientific name for this perennial is alchemilla, because they once believed water droplets on its leaves were highly purified, and could be turned, using alchemy, into gold.

What a wondrous plant to name a restaurant after (much better than nipplewort or sticky willy).

This is not a new addition to Glasgow’s foodie Finnieston strip, having been open for just over a year, but I visited mainly because I was sick of people asking if I’d sampled their take on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean grub.

Owned by chef Rosie Healey, formerly of London’s Ottolenghi, and Fergus McVicar of Glasgow’s Tabac and Chinaskis, the interior – you can book a table on the ground floor, at the bar or up on a mezzanine – is super hip Scandi style, with coppery hues and varnished wood.

We were down on the ground floor, on a pair of old fashioned primary school chairs that made me want to scratch my name into the table.

They do the sharing plate thing here, and we were recommended to go for two each, but ended up with six, since we ordered five and got something we didn’t ask for (but accepted it, because, hey, what’s one more when work is paying?).

We knew that loads of diners were going for the cauliflower, since the chef kept shouting it from the open kitchen’s pass. Or maybe these were the repetitive lyrics to a punk track about cruciferous vegetables. Whatever, it was a winner (£6.50) – creamily soft and topped with a granular layer of hazelnuts and a clinging blanket of fragrant and mildly hot muhammara.

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We’d also gone for Jerusalem artichoke (£8), with wedges and petal thin discs of this veg, a slug of olive oil, sails of Parmesan, black pepper and a few feathery chervil sprigs.

The sheets of pasta that were part of the specials board choice of sweet onion and sage pappardelle (£9) provided the carb. This mega buttery option was topped with jammy caramelised onion and Parmesan shavings.

Though the herbivorous options were smashing, as you’d expect from an Ottolenghi-an, we were in agreement that the octopus (£8.50) was our favourite dish, thanks to the chunky singed tentacles and wedges of mildly astringent pickled persimmon.

Another meaty pigeon option (£10.50) was hugely rich and feral tasting, with loads of glossy meat, puy lentils and calves’ liver, all under a drift of chopped parsley.

It fair did us in, guv’nor, as, either we’ve shrunk, or the portions here are massive, even though initial clues had indicated otherwise (the tables are tiny and the menu was saying mouse-sized helpings to me). I’m sure most people will be very happy about this, but it made the unbidden arrival of onglet (£9.50) a challenge.

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“We didn’t order that,” said my other half, while I politely nodded and accepted the additional food like the bloated chick that I am.

This option featured fat hunks of grainy pink beef with the addition of iodine-y swathes of salty spinach and little bricks of celeriac.
Lovely, so we asked for it to be wrapped up for later so we could manage some pudding now.

I was happy to order meringue (£6) and get the crispy sort, rather than the ubiquitous Italian squish.

Our hazelnut version was an Everest-sized creation, with layers of meringue chips and shards, all woven through with crushed hazelnuts and daubs of lemon curd.

While, a more moderately sized triangle of orange and polenta cake (£6) had an intense nuttiness amongst the sunshine-y citrus twang.

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Lovely, and I’d imagine a meal here could cure all your problems, whether you’re a lady or gentleman.

They have turned ingredients into gold.

How much?

Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £64



1126 Argyle Street, Glasgow
(0141-227 6060,

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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