Passion is infectious. It’s a simple truth but one that seems to have helped Glasgow transform itself from fish supper central into one of the most exciting food destinations in Scotland.
The successful recipe is disarmingly straightforward; a mixture of fresh new talent, experienced operators, an eye for provenance, street smarts and an innovative spirit has seen new restaurants, bistros, bars, food and drink festivals, farmers’ markets, breweries and a distillery spring up in recent years.
It’s no secret that Glaswegians love their food, but gone are the days when eating out meant choosing a curry or fish and chips. Now you can get everything from Japanese sashimi to Vietnamese street food via Brazilian churrascaria.
Ryan James, chair of the Glasgow Restaurant Association says it is an exciting time for the Glasgow restaurant scene. The association added ten new restaurants during their most recent intake, and are enjoying an unprecedneted level of enquiries regarding membership.
He said: “Tourism is definitely playing a big part. The SSE Hydro has helped bring people to the city and the Year of Food and Drink campaign has also played a major part not only in bringing people to Glasgow, but in raising awareness of the food offering here.
"It’s nice to see the key role of the provenance of ingredients, which are increasingly being sourced locally, being highlighted on menus and embraced by customers.”
John Molloy, head chef at the Butchershop Bar and Grill, which is part of the renaissance of the Finnieston area, says: “In the past five years people in Glasgow seem to have been embracing local restaurants and respecting the produce on their doorstep a lot more.
"This paired with a new generation of young and ambitious chefs mean the restaurant scene has many new and exciting venues.”
Just along the road from the Butchershop you arrive at the centre of newly rejuvenated Finnieston area of the city. Previously grungy and run-down, the Argyle Street strip has seen several of the city’s hippest new bars and best up and coming restaurants open over the past few years, stealing the focus from the previous foodie Mecca of Byres Road and the West End.
Not to be outdone, established operators such as Rogano, Guys and Brian Maule at Le Chardon d’Or are working hard in the city centre.
Brian Maule, head chef and proprietor of the aforementioned French restaurant says: “I personally feel there may still be room for progression in the trade but I see Glasgow as certainly more of a popular destination for tourism than ever before.
"The Glasgow food scene has always had great elements, but never got the recognition it deserves until recent years.”
But what about that elusive Michelin star? Paul Gorman, chef at the city centre’s Bowery Bar & Restaurant sums up the city’s feelings on the matter: “Even though Glasgow may not have a Michelin star, the hard work and long hours are worth it when you hear the customers saying that your food is the best they’ve ever had.”
Restaurants to check out:
(225A West George Street, G2 2ND, tel: 0141-572 0899)
This outstanding seafood restaurant was named Best Restaurant in the UK just last month by industry magazine The Caterer and Seafish, in their inaugural awards, with the judges “absolutely falling in love with it.”
With a menu that changes every six weeks, but regularly features locally sourced Isle of Gigha halibut, Scottish lobster and Scottish smoked salmon from Marrbury, this two AA rosette award-winning restaurant run by head chef and proprietor Derek Marshall since 1998 is a shining star in the seafood restaurant firmament.
(1055 Sauchiehall Street G3 7UD, tel: 0141 339 2999)
If Steak's more your thing, you can't go wrong with the Butchershop Bar and Grill. The New York-inspired restaurant aims to elevate the already far from humble Scottish steak to the next level with the release of its cuts-on-the-bone range, ranging in size from 700g to 2kg (so you might need to bring a friend or two). The grass-fed Scottish beef from Cairnhill Farm in Girvan is aged for 45 days, allowing each cut the correct amount of time to reach the optimum melt-in-your-mouth flavour level. Don't miss the Tomahawk, a giant flinstone-esque bone-in rib steak.
(1155 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TB, tel: 0141 204 2081)
The buzz around Glasgow's rejuvenated Finnieston area is hard to ignore. Sitting comfortably alongside The Finnieston and Porter
& Rye, The Gannet is making big waves in the city's burgeoning foodie scene. Established in 2013, this place has already won several best newcomer awards as well as an AA rosette, thanks to its ability to deliver Scottish cuisine using the best locally-sourced produce to create a stripped-back menu, with a simple modern take on some classic dishes, including Perthshire venison, Borders lamb and west coast squid.