Glasgow as a city is always in flux.
I’ve written before about the many changes in the restaurant scene in Scotland’s biggest city - including trying to remember old haunts - but there are a few eateries that have stood the test of time.
Number 16 Byres Road was established in 1999 and has garnered awards throughout the years, including mentions in the Michelin Guide.
The small restaurant, set over two levels, serves lunch and dinner and offers a cosy space for diners, making it an ideal spot on a winter’s day. Or let’s face it, any rainy day in Glasgow.
We, however, visit on the hottest day of spring so far, with sunshine bouncing off the cafes and takeaways across the street which at this point in time include a French style sandwich shop and a quirky gift shop.
The street itself is also in flux, as a new one way system is being noisily put in place, but you can always rely on Number 16, which feels almost hidden away from the bustle of people, cars and change.
We’ve booked for the purse-friendly set lunch menu, which is £22 for two courses or £28 for three.
We’re seated on the mezzanine level near a regular, who chats easily to the staff and orders what appears to be his usual.
We debated what to choose from the small but varied set lunch menu. As it’s so warm, it’s the leek and truffle croquette that’s chosen by my sister but I decided to go for the pea volute, without fully releasing that this would be a hot soup.
Despite this, it was vibrant and fresh, the sweetness of the peas the perfect accompaniment for the velvet nature of the dish.
Texture is found within the zesty pistachio and mint pesto, which floats on top like a craggy green island, amid splashes of herb oil. The two crispy croquettes, topped with a generous grating of parmesan, and sat on a soft, melting layer of leeks, were deemed fluffy but very flavoursome.
Mains were a good range of fish, meat and veggie options all bursting with the promise of spring produce. I went for the exotic sounding ras el hanout spice chickpeas while, across the table, it was the roast breast of chicken that was ordered.
The chickpeas dish was a smorgasbord of textures and flavour, with fragrant black garlic baba ghanoush, soft artichoke and a cooling harissa yoghurt flecked with smoked almond dukka - a very moreish meal that’s not lacking in flavour.
The chicken was a deliciously light dish, served with a coconut rice cake, pak choi, green curry and a peanut crumb. It was just the right amount, and very fragrant as you’d expect from a well balanced, curry dish that plays host to spring greens.
Although we were verging on being too full, all the desserts looked delicious so we decided to go for it and ordered the chocolate cremeux, and the almond sponge that was served with yoghurt and honey foam and strawberries.
The almond sponge cake, torn into chunks, was buried below yoghurt and honey foam, forming layers like a very light trifle. The first of the season strawberries added more sweetness, making this a perfect end to the meal.
While the chocolate cremeux is heavier, and a chocoholic’s dream, the vanilla ice cream cuts through the richness, and frankly the hazelnut ganache could be eaten on its own from a tub it was so good.
The salted caramel tart also sounded like a brilliantly sweet way to end the meal, or for those who don’t have a huge sweet tooth, a cheese course of Brie de Meaux with truffle honey, parmesan crackers and apple is available.
The blurb on Number 16’s website is hard to disagree with - “Established in 1999 and split over two levels, Number 16 is a small and cosy award-winning restaurant residing in the heart of Glasgow’s West End. Run by a friendly, experienced and dedicated team, we are proud to bring fresh and unusual ideas to modern Scottish cooking.”
It may be small, but there’s a consistency with Number 16 that offers its own comfort in an ever-changing city.