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Gloriosa, Glasgow, restaurant review - light seasonal dishes and drinks in beautiful surroundings close to Kelvingrove

This restaurant offers a calm location for a light lunch in the city’s west end, finds Rosalind Erskine.

Published: September 17, 2023

It’s fair to say the first week in September was an absolute scorcher. With temperatures sitting around 22-25 degrees for over a week, the last days of summer were more in tune with June than most of July or August.

In what’s usually a return to thinking of soups and stews, most people will have been enjoying lighter meals with cold drinks while soaking up the last of the (unexpected) summer sun.

It was on a sunny Sunday that we found ourselves searching for a spot for lunch and a drink, ideally outside, ahead of visiting the Mary Quant exhibition at Kelvingrove.

Gloriosa was the obvious choice, with its light and airy interior (a big change from the location’s former home of Firebird, a darker and more cosy pizza place), outdoor seating and changeable, seasonal menu.

Behind the scenes, and menus of Gloriosa is chef Rosie Healey, who made headlines when she returned to Glasgow after a stint in London.

Healey worked with Yotam Ottolenghi before returning to open Alchemilla in 2016 with her business partner Fergus McVicar.

After a split from McVicar in 2019, Rosie went back to London, undertaking stages in kitchens such as Quo Vadis in Soho, La Rochelle Canteen at the ICA and Padella Pasta in Shoreditch.

She then returned in late 2019 to open Gloriosa, located just down the road from Achemilla, which never reopened after lockdown and is now a Ramen Dayo.

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The large, 60 seater restaurant has a bright, airy and relaxed feel to it with white washed walls, large light wood tables with simple Milano chairs, with the curved bar visible from the street - of which there are outdoor tables too, for those who want to enjoy those final summer rays.

The menu, as you might expect from that Ottolenghi work and if you ever visited Alchemilla, heavily features vegetables but there’s also pastas and fish and meat.

Ahead of opening Gloriosa in 2019, Healey said: “Sharing plates are so last year and I’m going for large and traditional, bringing it all back to the classic format,” she said.

“It’s all about generous cooking. It’s not fine-dining but I want people to feel they’re getting a real treat and that they’re being cared for.”

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Gloriosa review

Once seated we decide to start with some snacks and soft drinks of homemade ginger beer (£4) before deciding on a couple of lighter bites. This fiery yet refreshing drink was delectable on a hot day, and would also work warm to fight winter chills.

The snacks - Focaccia and olive oil (£5.50), salted marcona almonds (£6) and gordal olives (£4.50) - arrived quickly.

We went for the light options, but sounding like something out of Dr Seuss, the green egg mayo caught our eye. One for next time.

The bread, which has been much lauded by critics, is served as four large wedges with a shallow bowl of golden olive oil, peppered with some sea salt. It’s every bit as good as promised, soft and airy with a firm, well baked, crust.

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It’s soft yet structured  and well seasoned - made only better when used to soak up the grassy oil.

We then turned our attention to the meaty-like olives, which, in my opinion, could convert olive haters so good, and different, their taste and texture from the small, bitter cousins.

The almonds, dusted with seasoning, had a slight sweet kick that balanced the salt - you could eat these alone with a chilled beer to while away a summer’s evening.

On to our mains, which were a couple of small veggie plates. For those looking for something more substantial, there was a whole grilled squid, hake, t-bone steak and three pasta dishes.

We opted for the violet artichokes, green beans and basil pesto (£9.50) and burrata, slow cooked courgette and pine nuts (£10).

The chunks of buttery artichoke were hidden in a tangle of bright green and yellow beans all of which were topped with a healthy spoonful of nut-flecked pesto and large basil leaves.

This was a fragrant dish, with crunch from the perfectly cooked beans and a hit of deep flavour from the artichoke. Across the table the cool ball of burrata was sat in a pool of oil, next to a pile of thin slices of courgette all of which had a light sprinkle of chilli flakes and pine nuts.

A soft dish of cool flavours with perhaps a bit too over seasoned, the rest of the bread was used to mop up any leftovers. While desserts looked good (especially the choux bun) we lingered a bit longer over our drinks before heading off.

After the coverage and rave reviews of Alchemilla, Rosie said she was ‘very wary and had lost my confidence entirely’ when it came to opening another restaurant.

With Gloriosa, she’s had time to quietly continue to serve excellent, seasonal food, done her way. The fanfare may have moved on, but the quality and passion is here to stay. Unlike our unseasonably hot weather.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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