Glasgow restaurant EVOO has Mediterranean small plates to make you go ooh, says Gaby Soutar

Since I’m a cruel mistress, one of my favourite moments on a recent holiday to Italy was when my other half ate an olive straight off the tree.

How I LOL’d as he spat and gurned like an llama eating a Rolo.

That horrible bitter, chemical and soapy taste of oleuropein repeated on him all day long.

Perhaps it’s karma, then, that he is unable to accompany me to this new restaurant, named after the acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

I sit alone, in a corner, beside a lifesize mural of a man harvesting this fruit. The leaves are stippled on, so they look like smoke, and the olives, if to scale, would be bigger than this man’s eyeballs.

On a Thursday dinnertime, I’m the only person here, which is strange, as we’re near the Theatre Royal Glasgow, currently showing Julia Donaldson’s Tabby McTat.

Mind you, I suppose their target audience isn’t seven-year-olds, and it’s not the most scenic area, across from an office block where luminous tabards drape, like dayglo fruit bats, on the back of chairs.

My waitress is very welcoming and kind, and doesn’t look confused by my large order, from the list of small Mediterranean-themed plates. (When feasting solo, I always wonder if they think that I’m dying, and this is my last hurrah).

To take the edge off my self-consciousness, I kick off with a Brambled Tom Collins (£7) from their small list of classic cocktails. It’s a stoater.

Forget Dutch courage, I have Benelux bravery, thanks to this punchy combination of Bombay Sapphire Gin, lemon, sugar syrup, soda and a slug of crème de cassis.

The first of my food orders to land is the roast sea bass (£7), with skin as crisp as old paint. It comes on top of a creamy smooth and garlicky ajo blanco, with a few pale flaked almonds and asparagus spears on the top.

I’m slightly intimidated by my hearty portion of pig cheeks (£7.50), but I guess I shouldn’t have laughed at his misfortune if I’d wanted to share my food with someone.

There are three fistfuls of pulpy soft meat, along with a moat of sweet watermelon and chilli jam, which tastes a bit like melted ice-lollies, as well as a crushed cannellini bean mixture.

I manage to finish it, though I neglect the sweet potato wedges with paprika and sea salt (£3.50), since they’re a bit soggy and haven’t been seasoned with either of the billed ingredients.

Instead, there are chevron stripes of a pale yellow (paprika, I guess) mayo. I’ll take them home for him in a doggy bag, as a peace offering.

I’ve also ordered some of their gratis extra virgin olive oil, since it’s their thing, and they’re listed under “add some extra flavour to your plate with a drizzle of one of our speciality oils”.

Maybe I should have ordered some bread. I lick a bit of the lemon and rosemary off the back of my knife, in a classy style (there is nobody to view my shame) and some of the white truffle. Yep, it’s the good stuff.

My final savoury small plate was the charred aubergine parmigiana (£5.50). It was pleasant while hot, with slices of aubergine in a crust of pecorino and chilli breadcrumbs, and lots of chunky Sicilian tomato sauce.

This was topped with quarters of creamy buffalo mozzarella, which did make the whole shebang rather cold and slushy after a few seconds. Eat fast, or regret it.

They do a lovely Sicilian lemon tart (£5), studded with raspberries and blueberries, and with a smooth tangy filling, which tastes like puréed sunshine, and a pale crust.

To cut through every vestige of fatty pig cheek flavour, like drain cleaner, it comes with a scoop of zingy raspberry sorbet, and a sprinkling of “rosemary sugar”, which I discovered was plain old icing sugar, after dipping my fingers in it like they were Swizzel Sticks in a Double Dip.

Although they may not have been firing on all cylinders, since it was completely dead in here, there are glimmers of magic, with or without the EVOO. Perhaps it’s not a destination for your last hurrah, but it’s more than good enough for an every-day hooray.

EVOO Glasgow

114 Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow

(0141-332 4032,  www.evooglasgow.co.uk)

 

EVOO, Glasgow, restaurant review
Food75%
Ambience80%
78%Overall Score
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About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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