One of my favourite buildings is Palau Güell in Barcelona.
It’s medieval meets futuristic, Gothic, primitive yet modern and, like many of Gaudi’s buildings, oddly reminiscent of a wasp’s bike.
I know they’ve modelled this new restaurant after a New York loft, but it still reminds me of that Catalonian building, mainly because it’s high-ceilinged inside, and so dark that you can see out and nobody walking past appears to see in.
Childish, but – ha ha – you’re in the street carrying bags and it’s raining, while we’re inside and warm drinking cava and eating fizzily vinegary and chilli spiked gordal olives (£4) that are the size of an iguana’s head, as well as Cantabrian anchovies with lemon and thyme (£3.50).
This glamorous and nocturnal-looking cave is owned by restaurant group Rusk & Rusk – the people behind Glasgow’s popular Hutchesons Bar and Brasserie and The Butchershop Bar & Grill.
Their menu is mightily tempting, with a set two courses for £19 or three for £25, alongside the à la carte.
As well as the obvious sides and mains lists, there’s a To Share section, which the waiter attempted to explain to us idiots, with lots of detail about the various weights of meat that were available and priced per 100g.
Too confusing, we are no Carol Vordermans, and are also not greedy enough to order the whole roasted suckling pig (£200) that’s available for four to five people to share.
I went for something straightforward from the starters list – a prettily presented fried courgette flower (£9). This breaded chrysalis was stuffed with a slick paste of butter coloured salt cod and came with tiny wedges of golden beetroot, blobs of a balsamicy brown gel, and a single anise flower that had been artfully tweezered onto the plate.
Very pleasant, but the seared hand dived Orkney scallop was better (£11). It looked so striking – like a Surrealist painting of an eye, with a hoop of scarlet and intensely sweet red pepper soup as the iris and a pupil of perfect fried egg. There was also a burnished-edged fat stub of seafood, a scoop of meltingly soft pork cheek and some black-as-coal morcilla. Joy.
We probably should’ve tried the beef next, as, apparently, it’s sourced from 12-14 year old Galician blond cattle from northern Spain and is kind of a big deal.
However, no regrets about our ignoramus-ness, as the secreto iberico de bellota (a secret cut from an acorn fattened pig, £18) was heavenly. There were medium rare slices of beautifully seasoned and fibrously textured nutty pork, with a herby and piquant mojo verde on the side. Best thing we’ve eaten for ages. Oh, and it came with a pot of piping hot fries that were topped with truffle oil and grated manchego.
In contrast to that feral and elemental option, the hake (£17) was quite a complex dish. It featured a chunky fillet of fish that was topped by a Trump coloured and smooth-centred puréed cauliflower croquette, as well as a wispy toupee of sprouted cumin seeds. Underneath was a mixture of broad beans, tiny crumbs of jamon, beefy morels and other assorted mushrooms.
I kept thinking I was finished with this dish, then found something else to pick at.
The puddings sound great, but this was that rare occasion when we really couldn’t fit anything else down our hatches. We were like badly taxidermied animals, with cotton wool bulging out of our loose seams. Still, for the purposes of this review, we paused for a while before picking at a Spanish trifle (£6). Served in a glass, on a doily, it consisted of a thin layer of copper coloured Pedro Ximenez jelly, one of densely packed sponge, then a warmly vanilla-y velvety crema catalana, a subtle orange blossom cream and lots of toasted almonds. It was worth the oesophageal traffic jam.
Anyway, like good architecture, the food at The Spanish Butcher is well structured and sturdy, with strong foundations. However, in a Gaudi style, it’s also a bit fun, fancy and imaginative. I could probably live in a place like this.
80 Miller Street, Glasgow
(0141-406 9880, www.spanishbutcher.com)
Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £68.50