I absolutely love Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson, especially at Christmas and winter time. I got Nigella’s Christmas cookbook from a colleague as part of the office secret Santa over 10 years ago, and it’s still one of my most read books. Same with Nigel’s Christmas Chronicles, (not to be confused with the Netflix film of the same name).
I also love watching their TV shows, which for me have a sense of calm at a time when things are, to put it mildly, off kilter.
You’ll often see Nigel or Nigella wafting down a London street and popping into an ancient but well stocked traditional Italian deli.
In recent years, I’ve found items cropping up in their recipes that I’ve found difficult to find (chestnut puree in one, and dark chocolate coated dried satsumas in the other). When things like this aren’t available in the most middle class of places, (Waitrose on Byres Road), I give up.
So when a convenience store not five minutes walk down the road from my flat reopened as a cafe and place for ‘neighbourhood provisions’, I hotfooted it down there with my Lawson and Slater approved shopping list.
Cuku sits on the site of what was Churchills, overlooking Great Western Road on the corner of Kirklee Road. Inside it’s more insta-friendly than traditional deli with bright pendant lights, and a colour palette of mint green, light pink, white and brushed gold.
But it does stock deli meats and cheeses along with a fridge of juices, salads and snacks.
The provisions are a good selection of local and UK beers, wines and bottles of Glasgow's Panther Milk, along with bread, oils, canned goods, pasta and a small selection of toiletries.
There’s also a takeaway and sit in menu covering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It has become a busy spot for brunch, especially on sunny days when you can sit on the colourful mosaic bistro tables outside. It’s also dog-friendly.
We popped in on a Saturday night in early January, as a treat for taking down the Christmas tree and decorations. For those doing dry January, Cuku doesn’t yet have a licence, so serves only soft drinks, alcohol free wines and beers and mocktails.
The menu is split into small plates (starter size), large plates (mains) and sharing boards, which include a meat board, cheese board, mix of both or hummus, babaganoush, crudites, sourdough bread.
We started our evening with two Watermelon Pepper Crush mocktails (£5 each).
This mix of Strykk Not G*n, cucumber, watermelon juice, lime juice and sugar syrup tasted just like Jolly Rancher sweets, and was a sweet and refreshing way to begin the meal. I could almost imagine the sun shining outside….almost.
For starters we chose to share the Scottish smoked salmon, sourdough melba toast, pickles, Gremolata (£8.50) and grilled artichokes, blue cheese dressing, rocket, candied nuts and shaved apple (£7.50).
The folds of coral pink salmon were served atop light and crisp toast and drizzled with the garlicky and earthy Gremolata. Slivers of pickle were hidden under the salmon, giving some crunch.
After the salmon we tucked into the two butter soft artichokes, which were smothered in a blue cheese sauce and sprinkled with small slivers of sweet, crunchy nuts.
The artichokes were served on top of a peppery rocket salad dotted with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of green apple. This dish was fresh and rich with a good balance of flavours, and definitely one I’d order again for a lunch.
For the main course I ordered a margarita pizza with pepperoni and olives (£x) while my boyfriend went full carnivore and chose the rib eye steak (£23.95).
The pizza was a decent size and was well cooked with a soft crust. Flavoursome thanks to the pepperoni and olives, it was a perfectly nice pizza, which came with an addictive garlic mayo - a delicious crust dunker. If you’re in the market for pizza though, the behemoth that is Paesano is very close by.
Across the table, the huge position of ribeye had arrived and was served with a house salad of rocket, tomatoes and red onion, as well as crispy new potatoes which were dotted with garlic and rosemary.
The steak, while not looking picture perfect, was cooked very well and seasoned well, showcasing the quality of the meat.
It was deemed better than a lot of non-steak restaurant offerings. But it was the potatoes that were the star of this show. Another meal that was well cooked and perfectly nice.
For dessert, Cuku offers a small selection of cakes and cannoli. We chose a lemon and a pistachio cannoli, and shared a slice of lemon drizzle cake. The cannoli were very sweet, with not much flavour from the pistachio (lemon was better) and the lemon drizzle was a nice, moist example of this classic bake.
Cuku is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, and I can see it thriving as a lunch spot as the small plates were a highlight, while the sharing boards will benefit from the addition of wine if a licence is granted.
It’s also nice to see local and more unusual brands for sale as part of the shop-side of the business, although my search for chestnut puree and dark chocolate coated dried satsumas continues.
1 Kirklee Road, Glasgow G12 0RL
0141 357 3641