Foraging and palaeolithic diets are so fashionable, you’d think people harked back to the bad old days of being hunter gatherers.
Although I could have bought into the outfits – furry loincloths, deer skin onesies, shell jewellery – in those ancient, yet chic, times, I would have been too lazy to survive.
If anyone is going to pop a poisonous berry, because they were too impatient to get the thumbs up from a tribe elder, it’s me.
Maybe it’s just easier to fall into a ditch and get gored by a sabre tooth tiger quite early on in proceedings.
Anyway, perhaps this Partick restaurant’s name has nothing to do with that, and is a reference to the act of meeting and grazing with friends, one of the few things I excel at.
It’s owned by Mhairi Taylor of Glasgow’s popular Cafezique and the few-doors-down Bakery by Zique and takes the place of Delizique (apparently Zique is her grandfather’s nickname).
The smallish space has just a couple of tables downstairs, with eccentric nicknacks including a collection of rams’ horns, wooden fishing rods, and, in the window, a blue mirrored light that casts an ectoplasmic glow. On the upper level, there are Timorous Beasties furnishings and an architectural maquette of the city on the ceiling.
We were completely sucked in by the idea of cocktails, since they have inventions like the lip-puckering blood orange margarita (£7.50), with tequila blanco, curacao, blood orange and thyme shrub, lime and a smoked paprika rim, and the rhubarb 75 (£8) featuring gin, lemon, rhubarb, ginger and vanilla bean cordial, and fizz. After those, we were brand new.
It’s been a while since it was this hard to choose a starter, with seven appealing choices, but I settled on the razor clam salsa (£7). It was served on the shell, with little seafood stubs mixed with chopped parsley, tomato and fennel, all topped with a bank of crunchy, toasty and sandy tomato-infused gratin, as well as two strips of crispy pancetta. Spoot-alicious.
Our other option – pork fritto misto (£7) – featured the crown jewels of piggy bits. On a spicy tomato sauce, there was a dense and bouncy head nugget, twists of crackly battered pig’s ear, and, encased in a russet coloured crumb, a loosely hewn and herby shoulder croquette, which sounds a bit like a tennis injury, but tasted essential and comforting.
The main course of two grilled hogget chops (£17) was also beautiful, with plump pink meat that featured salty and well rendered nibbly edges. The plate was dotted with tufts of rosemary and there was a spiced aubergine caponata with fat raisins, capers and blistered tomatoes, as well as marinated and herby discs of potato, with flecks of chilli here and there. Eating this dish was the equivalent of seeing in colour when you’ve been achromatic.
My dining partner’s favourite thing, though, was the Swedish side dish of Jansson’s temptation (£4). It’s just a simple layered and creamy potato bake, with a touch of salty anchovy running through it. He has Scandinavian blood, and his mum used to make this cost-cutting dish when he was a nipper. Anyway, there was all sorts of Proustian stuff going on. I had one bite, then let him have his glassy-eyed moment and continue to scrape the crispy edges off the tin.
Puddings are gussied up takes on familiar staples. I went for the chocolate semifreddo (£7), with chunks of hazelnut praline and whole hazelnuts, and a little jug full of warm chocolate and frangelico sauce. To de-sweeten the caboodle, there were cross sections of bitter blood orange.
My other half, still thinking about the things he had in common with his new boo Jansson, had gone for the crowdie cheesecake (£7). This was a disassembled affair, with, wersh rhubarb chunks, candied rosemary, and dollops of the white cheese, which stuck to the pale biscuit-y crumbs like an ice-cream that had fallen out of its cone onto the beach.
Ah, we were just so spoilt here.
It’s the perfect venue for lazy palaeolithic types.
Sit tight, don’t touch any suspicious berries, and let them do all the hunting and gathering for you. n
Gather by Zique
70-72 Hyndland Street