Scotsman Review
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January 30, 2022

iasg, Blythswood Square, Glasgow restaurant review

This new seafood restaurant is the latest offering for this city centre hotel finds Rosalind Erskine.

As we come out of Covid restrictions, there’s sure to be many restaurants that will have had a refresh or a complete facelift – ready to be fully frequented once again. 

One of those is iasg at Glasgow’s Blythswood Square Hotel in the city centre. iasg is the Scottish Gaelic word for fish, (pronounced ee-usk), and the new restaurant is taking over what was Bo and Birdy - the hotel's main dining room which eagle eyed fans of Succession may recognise.

While the decor remains mainly the same (the beautiful, eye-catching turquoise scallop tiles that adorn the bar are definitely more suited to an ‘under the sea vibe’), the menu has had a complete overhaul and the kitchen is headed up by chef Sean Currie, formerly of No.16 Byres Road - an often underrated mainstay of the city’s dining scene.

I visited for the restaurant launch at the end of November and was looking forward to a proper sit down meal so booked for a mid-week treat in what feels like the never-ending month of January.

Unfortunately the kitchen had a major technical fault, so the menu was limited and we were seated upstairs in the salon bar.

While its purple and grey tweed seats and bright lighting don’t immediately give the same ambience as downstairs, we were still looking forward to trying what iasg had to offer - even at limited capacity.

In normal circumstances, iasg’s menu is a celebration of the best Scottish seafood, and features dishes such as fresh hand-dived scallops, Cumbrae oysters and platters of shellfish.

As well as whole baked sole on the bone and grilled langoustines. On the night we visited there was a short selection of options, all of which were appealing.

While browsing I finally got to try an Isle of Bute Oyster shell gin martini (£12) - which was smooth with just a hint of sweetness from the Mara seaweed oil. An easy sipper with no hint of harshness from the alcohol.

For starters I chose the traditional smoked salmon, creme fraiche, grated egg, shallots and bilinis (£9).

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This was presented as a mini smorgasbord with the cool creme fraiche offsetting the sharp shallots and delicate salmon.

Across the table, the ‘pate like’ West Coast crab salad served with granny smith, coriander and avocado (£8) was deemed light and delicious but lacking something in which to spread it. Luckily, instead of belinis I was presented with three oatcakes, so happily shared.

The main course options included Campbells gold sirloin steak and a veggie course of roasted celeriac ravioli, but keen to continue with the seafood I went for the intriguing Scottish lobster and salmon burger (£25).

The salmon fish cake style patty was topped with a juicy piece of lobster claw and smothered in sweet chili slaw, all encased in a pretzel bun and served with a shiny cone of skinny fries and a dressed salad.

A very posh take on a beef burger, it was a pleasant mix, with the salmon adding a good amount of flavour and moistness.

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My companion’s main dish was the equally intriguing roasted monkfish (£20.50).

Served with a zingy marsala sauce, confit onion bhaji and a wedge of roasted squash.

Not the most photogenic dish, there was a hit of heat from the sauce balanced by the sweet squash with the meaty monkfish flavour not drowned out by the richness and deep flavour from the onion bhaji, which looked a bit burnt but didn’t disappoint. A more delicate fish would have been lost here.

Unsure what to order as a side for two very different mains, our helpful waiter suggested the confit mushroom (£5) which arrived as six slices and topped with very crispy shallots, truffle and rosemary.

A decadent addition, the truffle wasn’t overpowering and the shallots added a decent amount of texture.

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With no room for dessert - it was a toss up between the passionfruit tart, bitter chocolate mousse or plum trifle - a decaf coffee and the rest of my martini were polished off before heading home.

At the time of opening last year, the general manager for the hotel said: “We’re really excited to introduce iasg to the Glasgow food scene with a new menu focused on celebrating Scotland’s finest seafood.

"Here at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel we care about Scotland’s coast and waters, so it was important to us to commit restaurant iasg to a progressive sustainability policy for sourcing our seafood – and we hope to lead the way in Glasgow after COP26 at considering sustainable practice at every point in our guest journey.

“We’ll be serving only hand-dived or creel-caught shellfish, sourced in waters where there is a healthy supply, and promising to work with their suppliers to guarantee traceability.”

While our meal was very nice, it didn’t go down as one of my top dining experiences and the prices will be prohibitive for many (although this is dining in a five star hotel)

But, given the kitchen problems and limited menu, this isn’t the iasg that was introduced with much fanfare at the end of 2021 so I find myself still looking forward to really seeing what Sean and his team can showcase, once the current problems have been resolved.

iasg

Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel,

11 Blythswood Square,

Glasgow G2 4AD; 0141 240 1633

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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