One of the things I tend to do quite often when walking around Glasgow is to test my (occasionally awful) memory by trying to recall what bar or restaurant used to frequent different spaces. It’s a bit like guess who, but with fewer moustaches.
It’s well known that the city’s food and drink offering has changed beyond all recognition, and hopefully stereotypes, over the last few years, giving the different parts of Glasgow a chameleon-like quality.
One of the latest additions to the west end is Hooligan, a rather aggressive sounding wine bar and restaurant located on Lynedoch Street, above The Drake (one I don’t need to remember as it’s been there since my uni days - longer than I’d care to admit).
Opened as a sister restaurant to Eighty Eight, a small open plan restaurant on Dumbarton Road whose compact menu of sharing dishes change daily depending on what’s available to the chefs that morning, Hooligan also serves small sharing plates as well as natural wines.
It’s rather unexpectedly located in what was a tenement flat, complete with beautiful high ceilings, parquet floors, cornicing and large windows.
Stylish cocktail bar Fly South is the restaurant’s next door neighbour (based in what I imagine was the living room - see I’m at it again), and is a great spot for a pre-dinner tipple.
The staff are friendly and attentive, and after a while we started to feel as if we were at a very grown up house party.
Hooligan is along the hall and comprises two cosy rooms - the bar and main restaurant.
Seating only a handful of people in a former bedroom, the house party vibe changes to that of an exclusive supper club or dinner party thanks to the ambient lighting and tealights on the tables.
On opening, the team behind Hooligan said they were offering a menu of simple small dishes - creatively plated and crafted using the best seasonal Scottish produce.
They were also keen to highlight the wines, saying “As we see consumers pushing for more natural products, the old way of making wine is making a comeback and people are much more open to trying organic and biodynamic wines.”
After a couple of cocktails from Fly South (who don’t offer food) we immediately ordered the plump, meaty and fennel scented Gordal olives (£4) and moreish smoked almonds (£4) to nibble on while we checked out the rest of the menu.
It contained a good balance of meat, fish and veggie dishes, so following suit we opted for starters of sweetcorn fritters (£6) and IJ Mellis charcuterie (£10).
Light and crispy, the golden, sweet fritters were balanced by a hint of garlic and cumin, and the red pepper sauce gave a big hit of almost sriracha style spice.
Across the table, the wooden board of cold meats - fennel sausage, chorizo, cured ham and dried kidney - went down a treat, especially with a cold glass of Primordial Soup white wine. Don’t be freaked out by the kidney, it was deemed sweet and delicious despite initial reservations (mainly from me).
Next up was what can only be described as Christmas on a plate. Brussel sprouts served with parsnips,chestnuts and cranberry (£9).
Our waitress hailed this as her favourite dish, and she wasn’t wrong. The lightly crisp Brussels were studded with hidden, sweet and sour jewels of cranberry - all pulled together with the creaminess of parsnips and bite of velvety chestnuts.
A rich mix of flavours and textures, this was a veggie dish done right, and one to change the mind of any sprout naysayer.
The meat eater tucked into a N’duja and pancetta terrine (£9). Looking like a long thin cut of multilayer lasagna, there were two halves of a lightly boiled duck egg on top, doused with Manchego cheese.
The N’duja added some much needed spice and flavour, but it was the bravas sauce that was the standout in this dish.
Finally, a dish of Hake served with pumpkin and samphire (£12) was served, which will be forever known as the forgotten course.
As with every dinner party, a few drinks and in-depth conversation carried the night on, and we forgot that we weren’t finished eating. The fish sat on top cubes of pumpkin, which dotted the plate strewn with bright samphire.
Flaky and succulent, this dish, for me, was a bit too over seasoned and, with the addition of the samphire, came across as quite salty.
Sadly we had no room for dessert, and instead carried on our chat in the cosy ambience.
Hooligan is serving up excellent, seasonal fare with a good choice for veggies. The simple menu hasn’t overstretched the team, instead leaving them able to offer an intriguing blend of flavours.
The small but well formed wine selection is sure to perk up the wine buff of the group or couple, although the friendly staff are on hand to guide those who don’t know their picpouls from their riojas.
Hooligan’s quirky location and neat menu are the stuff of sophisticated styles of dinner party that surely we all dream of, and I bet it’s here to stay.
upstairs at 1 Lynedoch St,
Glasgow G3 6EF
0141 352 9841