What to wear on my first train trip to Glasgow for five months?
There’s a little silky floral number, the Scandi minimal grey linen piece, or the workaday blue one.
It’s so hard to choose, when you have an extensive mask wardrobe.
You could call me the Imelda Marcos of face coverings, though I draw the line at investing in the £90 Burberry one.
I’ll wait until Swarovski does a crystal encrusted affair, or there’s one with chipmunk cheek snack pockets.
In the end, I plump for the minimal look (though take the aqua paper one too, for easier breathing on the hot train).
It was the right choice, as it turns out I’m perfectly coordinated with the interior of this first floor restaurant, whose name has nothing to do with Cinderella, but is the Gaelic for Glasgow and is pronounced glas-a-hoo. Yoohoo, Glas-a-hoo!
It’s been decorated in the stormy colour of the bow-legged pigeons that scrape around outside its Royal Exchange Square neighbour, GOMA. The only colour in the muted room, apart from bright green pillars, comes from the huge floral swags of dried pastel hued grasses and poppyheads, teasels and wheat suspended from the ceiling.
This place opened back in February, in the premises of The Western Club, then closed under lockdown. They’ve been back for a few weeks now, and are limping along, like the pigeons and most restaurants right now.
Thanks to limited footfall, it’s extra tough in the city centre and there were only two other tables on our visit.
The menu, created by head chef Dion Scott, formerly of Glasgow’s The Spanish Butcher, is quite old school and luxury-hotel-ish. Count me in. I don’t want to be challenged, just swaddled like an elderly baby.
We tackle the starter list with a pincer movement, and go for the cheapest option of Jerusalem artichoke velouté (£8), and the priciest, lobster and langoustine cannelloni (£15).
Both come on strong.
My neat and pencil-length Toblerone-shaped parcel of densely packed shellfish is satisfyingly meaty. It’s placed on a rectangle of salty shellfish velouté sauce, which is intensified by a putty-coloured border of cep purée – opaque and corralling the edges like the lead in a stained glass window.
Anything with an egg in it is a winner, and this soft-centered dude is coated in a feathery breadcrumb and comes dunked into our other starter – the pale green and silky velouté. There’s truffle floating around in there, and crumbs of hazelnut, with a few other tasty oniony blobs on top. It’s a balm for the insides.
Our equally rich main courses also feature satisfying little nuggets of interest. The rather beautiful fillet of crisp skinned Gigha halibut (£25) comes with a smoky charred hispi cabbage, a handful of capers, a beige bean bag of buttery pomme bearnaise, samphire, a glossy port reduction and cubes of confit potato.
I haven’t had red meat for a while and could feel the iron bombing through my arteries, thanks to our other main, which featured soft wads of roast lamb cannon (£25). There was also a cigar-like yellow pastilla filled with a spiced and minty braised lamb neck, halved confit tomatoes, which were sour and sweet like fizzy cola bottles, spinach and a splash of onion soubise.
My tired taste buds, which had been anaesthetised by mask steam, were reanimated.
Ping, ping, ping, they all came on, like office lights in a city (well, back in the olden days).
We shared the pudding of banana parfait (£7). This triangle of oaty and creamy monkey magic was good, though the peanut ice-cream, on top of a nutty crumb, was the real star.
That lunch was well worth my first journey through to Glas-a-hoo, which I haven’t visited since I reviewed the magnificent Gloriosa way back in March.
I think I might just be back in the west coast saddle. Next time, I will celebrate by wearing my fabulous crystal-encrusted mask. n
32 Royal Exchange Square Glasgow, (0141 248 2214, www,glaschurestaurant.co.uk)