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111 by Modou, Glasgow, restaurant review

This west end restaurant kicked off a series of guest chef menus last month. Rosalind Erskine went along to try their take on fine dining with game.

Published: November 6, 2022
Categories:
Food: 
8/10
Ambience: 
8/10

111 by Modou is one of those neighbourhood restaurants that may be referred to as a ‘hidden gem’.

Having had past lives of an Italian and a chippy, 111 is now a stylish, upmarket restaurant run by chef Modou Diagne, a former colleague of Nico Simeone - of Six by Nico fame. In fact, chef Nico ran this restaurant, his first in the city, until early 2020 when he gave it over to Modou.

Modou, originally from Senegal, spent much of his younger life in Spain, before travelling to Glasgow by himself when he was 18 and with only £200 in his pocket to look for opportunities.

He slept rough for ten days until he found refuge in a Shelter charity church that helps the homeless before eventually finding permanent shelter.

After a year continuously applying for jobs with no success due to very poor English, he came across a recruitment advert Nico had posted online in 2014 for a kitchen porter at 111 by Nico.

Nico met and hired Moodu and within two months he noticed Modou had an unbelievable work ethic, a healthy respect and a positive attitude towards work.

Nico began to teach him the fundamentals of kitchen hygiene, to understand basic food ingredients, how to hold a knife, develop more complex skills and eventually the basics of cooking.

Modou was able to save enough money working at 111 to move into a hostel and get off the streets. Working with Nico over the years, Modou has played an intrinsic role in the 111 by Nico story and its success. 

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Having survived the lockdowns and covid restrictions, the restaurant is back to full capacity and you can sense that Modou is ready to really get going with his vision for 111.

Past menus include a ten course tasting menu and a ‘trust’ offering, where dishes are relatively unknown to diners and their trust put into the chefs, Modou is now running a monthly guest chef series.

The first one, which took place in late October, was with Nico and featured a menu entirely of game. As with the menus here and at Six by Nico, a paired wine selection is also on offer.

I must admit, apart from venison, game doesn’t really float my boat but I was intrigued to see what these two imaginative chefs could conjure out of the season’s best wild produce.

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We started the evening with an aperitif - a refreshing yet subtly spiced Glasgow in Autumn gin drink with orange, cardamom and aromatic tonic.

Then it was straight into the first course, a game consume and game terrine. The consume was served in a small bowl, and looked for all the world like oxtail soup or thin gravy save for the pools of green oil that moved across the surface.

The small piece of terrine was adorned with some lovage and sliced green apple, and had a small parcel of foie gras inside, giving some richness to the light meat on the outside.

The consume was rich, meaty and totally comforting on a cold, dark night.

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111 by Modou
The game terrine

The next dish was duck breast and leg, the breast was served sliced on top of leg ragu, all of which rested on a bed of orzo and topped with a white truffle and Madeira sauce.

Something about these flavour combinations took me back to a dish made by my aunt - warming and slightly sweet with the Madeira cutting through any richness. The Italian white wine for this dish complemented the creaminess, without being too sharp.

Next up was rabbit ballotine with leg ragu, served with sprouting broccoli, homemade mushroom ketchup and pickled walnut. A South African rose with this dish brought the soft meat to life, while the ketchup gave it a real kick.

The final meat dish was a classic - venison - which was served with a slab of salt baked celeriac, girolle mushrooms, hazelnuts and black garlic.

The meat was tender and pink, and the hazelnut emulsion and toasted hazelnuts added texture and earthiness.

The black garlic gave depth, while the soft wedge of flavoursome salted baked celeriac and hidden orange girolles gave some balance to what could have been an overly rich dish.

This dish was served with a punchy, tannin filled organic Italian red wine.

111 by Modou
Venison was the main dish

Finally dessert, which was a chocolate creme served with whisky ice cream, dark chocolate slab and bramble gel.

For me not much beats whisky and chocolate, and this pairing was lovely - with not too much sweetness thanks to the dark chocolate. A Portuguese muscatel finished the evening nicely.

While I may not be a total game convert (the rabbit was a step too far for me, but enjoyed by my dining companion), Modou and Nico used their skill to really let the seasonal flavours of these autumnal meats and veggies shine.

The restaurant is a bit away from the hustle of Finnieston or Ashton Lane and Byres Road, but with such creativity and care that’s put into the menus, it’s well worth the trip.

111 by Modou

111 Cleveden Rd, Kelvinside, Glasgow G12 0JU

0141 334 0111

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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