My name-that-tune rendition of Baker Street’s instrumental break isn’t going well.
Nellie the Elephant? Coronation Street theme tune?
Unfortunately, the autopilot on my air sax has been triggered by a direct view to Glasgow’s Saxophone Shop.
It’s right opposite Gloriosa, the new restaurant from chef Rosie Healey. After adventures in London, including working with Yotam Ottolenghi, she opened nearby restaurant Alchemilla with her business partner. A couple of years later, she’s doing her own thing in the larger 60 seater space that was until recently Firebird.
It’s less design-y than her last place – more relaxed, with the original fish tank in the corner. If this space was a sax tune, it’d definitely be something insouciant yet classy – John Coltrane, rather than Lisa Simpson.
Like Alchemilla, there’s a Mediterranean vibe to the food, but plates are sharing rather than small.
My virtual sax quickly goes back in its case when the focaccia (gratis, unless they just forgot to stick it on our bill) arrives. There are three wedges, saturated in olive oil and with an undulating and crispy crust.
I’m also very happy about the beetroot (£6) option, because I love nuts, especially almonds, though they’re such a rare thing on menus.
As part of this creation, they’re smoked and scattered across a pile of shredded beetroot, along with mint leaves and a cabernet sauvignon vinegar. The veg is saturated with the liquid, like flares in the rain, for a sweet and earthy juiciness.
Another excellent veggie dish – calcots and romesco (£8.50) – features two burnished onions, curled up like sleeping geckos on a pile of roughly hewn romesco sauce.
The smoked haddock carpaccio (£10) was another lovely thing, and a promotion for this fish, you’d imagine, up from blue collar kedgeree. It was sunshiny and acidic, with thinly sliced piscine petals marinating in olive oil and lemon, fennel seeds and tufts of dill.
My other half is the only person in Scotland who wasn’t a fan of Alchemilla. He much prefers Gloriosa, thanks mainly to the duck ragu (£12) and its herb-laced tagliatelle. The meat had a creamy texture that clung to the pale yellow pasta ribbons, and there was a toupée of Parmesan, as feathery as the taxidermied bird display at Kelvingrove Museum.
Our most expensive dish, the lamb (£16) came five dishes in, when our hunger mojos might have been extinguished. The thick slices of pink meat, topped with a wild garlicky zhoug, came with a soupy sauce dotted with creamy centred fava beans. It was good enough to squeeze in, like the nice colleague you hold the elevator door for, even though they do have a bit of a cough.
I hate when puddings are an afterthought, because they’re always bang slap at the forefront of my mind. Happily, they really care about them here. The flourless chocolate cake (£6) came on strong. It was so rich and dense and served in a pool of single cream, for a visual effect as stark as Kermit’s eyeball. It was the stuff that dreams are made of, when you wake and realise you’ve eaten your pillow and have enjoyed it so much that you munch the duvet and the mattress too.
Same goes for the panna cotta (£6), which was barely holding itself together, like a chunky thigh in five denier tights. It had the barest hint of wobble, and was almost deflated, so its tarn of burnt caramel sauce was sloshing down the sides and into a moat. This came with a salty sweet brazil nut biscuit, crisscrossed with buttery fissures for a ready crumble. Now that was about the most delicious thing that this legume lover has ever eaten. If they manufactured them, I would fight for the last box in a decimated supermarket.
I’m unboxing my air sax. A visit here calls for an epic solo. (Nellie the Elephant, to the extremely unsophisticated ear). n
* Gloriosa has temporarily closed
1321 Argyle Street, Glasgow (0141-334 0594, www.gloriosaglasgow.com)