We’re getting to that point in winter when it’s hard to remember what it was like being too warm. Enjoying long (sometimes) sunny days, and not having to wear the Big Coat when venturing outside.
Spring is on its way, with the nights getting lighter, but sometimes in mid-February, it’s nice to head out for a meal that reminds you of long summery days gone by. A place that serves up dishes that remind you of a holiday.
One of these places is Kelp, an award-winning, often very well reviewed spot in the city centre close to the Royal Concert Hall.
It’s a blink and you’ll miss it restaurant that’s located under the Matrix building on Cowcaddens Road. It’s handy for the subway and if you want a bite to eat before a show (as we did, ahead of Transatlantic Sessions at Celtic Connections).
With limited time on our hands, we got stuck into a glass of pinot noir each, before ordering a range of the small plates on the menu, which is seafood and fish heavy.
As the name suggests, the restaurant prides itself on sustainable Scottish seafood. Kelp is the sister restaurant of Ardnamurchan, which opened in 2017 after a renovation. It’s a modern Scottish restaurant, and a cavernous place, whereas Kelp is smaller, lighter and airier with a pared back beach look that included a wooden fronted bar, globe lighting, lots of plants and fairy lights.
With the restaurant ethos in mind, we ordered mainly fish, with the exception of the chicken meatballs (£12). Along with these, we chose Smoked Tobermory trout, gimlet- gin, cucumber, lime (£12), Orkney crab doughnut, crab emulsion, chilli, sesame (£14), Monkfish, mushroom bordelaise, celeriac, lardo pata negra (£15), Halibut, yeasted cauliflower, vadouvan, raisin, almond (£16) and Delica pumpkin, burrata, seaweed & pumpkin seed pistou (£10).
Along with a side of the Pierre koffman fries (£5). First to arrive was the smoked Tobermory trout, the deep pink chunks of which were served with green blobs of a fresh cucumber sauce - all topped with white shards of gin meringue.
The sweetness of these brought out the fresh flavours of the fish and sauce. A very promising start. Then it was on to the pumpkin burrata, which consisted of a large globe of fresh, creamy white cheese sat on top of thinly sliced fresh pumpkin and topped with the nutty, vibrant sauce.
While the pumpkin slivers were a bit chewy, the whole dish was well balanced and I could have gladly eaten double the amount of pistou.
Savoury doughnuts are having a bit of a moment, so I was intrigued to try the Orkney crab version served here, as they can be slightly clawing and sickly in nature. But this was a delight. It looked like a large scotch egg topped with sesame seeds and a dusting of chilli. The dough was robust but not too much, and let the crab filling shine.
The chicken meatballs were like a deconstructed cock-a-leekie soup, with three browned meatballs sitting on a bed of barley risotto with sliced buttered leeks and prunes. Another dish that balanced savoury with sweet, the result was totally more-ish.
The meaty monkfish sat adrift on a silken mushroom broth and was a rich dish that meat lovers would enjoy. A bit too much salt here, but the fish was delicious.
The halibut dish was a scented, flavourful delight with the large portion of fish enlivened by the spices - with a hint of sweetness from the raisins.
The crispy, well seasoned chips, were used to soak up all the various sauces and went well with all the types of fish, making this a very posh chippy indeed.
It was with great regret that we didn’t have time to stay for the Mellis cheese board and desserts, which included Dark chocolate, Jerusalem artichoke, Madeira sabayon, Perthshire rapeseed oil cake, saffron, pear, yoghurt sorbet or burnt Basque cheesecake (which sounded like summer in a bowl).
Kelp might be a bit hidden away but miss it at your pearl.