Tibo, Duke Street

A sunny Sunday afternoon took me slightly further afield for a bite of lunch today.  Yes I managed to make it all the way to the eastend of the city to try, a now established, and welcome dimension to the Glasgow restaurant community.

Tibo has been on Duke street for a couple of years now, but still looks very new.  A corner position helps to support the great atmosphere, which is created from the unique decor inside.

As it was 1pm on a Sunday, the choice of food took some consideration, between some classic breakfast / brunch options or more creative lunch options.  In the end we all settled for lunch with me having the Sausage and potato salad with olives and a poached egg.  Nick and Andrew both chose the Tibo Burger, served with a dressed salad and hand-cut chips.

Both choices were excellent.  The salad was a brilliant combination of summer leaves, sun-blushed tomatoes and onions, dressed with an excellent vinaigrette, combined with some beautiful part-roasted potatoes and toulouse (I think) sausages.  The boys tell me the burgers were also great.  Very meaty home-made patties were served on a great bun with, once again, a good dressed salad.  It’s always good to find places that go to the small trouble of properly dressing some salad rather than simply chucking some salad and half a tomato on a plate.

Overall, Tibo is definitely worth a visit and brings an interesting (almost) new dimension to the city, being found in the eastend.  Overall score: 8/10

The Left Bank: losing its touch?

The Left Bank, Gibson Street, GlasgowIt has been known for my family to go out for a meal to celebrate special occasions.  This month is my Gran’s birthday so, true to form, we went for a spot of dinner last Sunday evening.  Having all visited the Left Bank before, it was a popular choice for a return trip.  It’s true what they say about first impressions, and on this occasion as far as they were concerned things didn’t get off to the best of starts. 

On arrival we were directed to our table in the upstairs part of the place, a cosy corner with plenty of space.  Having been given menus, we were surprised to wait quite a while before the waiter even asked us if we would like a drink.  We put it down to a busy Sunday evening, and waited a bit longer.  Eventually we were served by a member of staff who obviously didn’t want to be there. Whether after a long day of working or because he was still overcoming the effects of his previous night, it wasn’t really the best of starts.

I had previously been very impressed with the menu at Left Bank; a creative mixture of tapas style plates and more generous full course meals.  This time was no different and I was pleased to see that there were a number of changes from our last visit, something I consider the sign of a good chef, who’s keen to keep evolving his or her menu.

We all ordered a range of options, from the monkfish kebabs, to the lamb leg and fillet steak and waited with anticipation.  As is usual with left bank the plates offer a creative, and sometimes complex, range of flavours.  I was pleased to see this continued.  Again, what let it down was the service.  Two of our orders arrived and were set down, less than daintily, in front of us.  Sadly, they already seemed as though they had been sitting for a while as they weren’t what you would consider piping hot.  Cold plates wouldn’t help, especially with a fish course.  However, what made this worse was the 4 or 5 minute wait before the other orders arrived.  The food itself was still very tasty, reminding me of the good flavour combinations I had experienced before.  However the presentation was less than clever, with no great effort put into our offerings.

Overall, the meal was average, leaving us feeling like we had the sous chef serving us, with the head chef away for the evening.  However, it was the service, which did the most damage to the evening!  When you visit a good restaurant its a real disappointment to find it scoring low on a return trip.  I will probably visit again, but if this standard is maintained it will definitely be my last!

Overall score: 5/10

 

Whisky troughs & peaks

Since Scotland began exporting whisky to the world in the 19th century, its success has undulated through history.  A gradual growth led by the Glenfiddich distillery of William Grant had been kick-started by the devastation of the grape harvests in France by the phylloxera beetle.  Today it is the largest selling ‘brown’ spirit in the world, with export sales worth £2.5billion.  At the industry’s peak, there were over 150 distilleries across the country, however that number had dwindled to the mid-80′s by 1995.   Now in 2008, the industry is experiencing an precedented renaissance, with the potential to lift it beyond any previous highs.  There is huge optimism in the industry, the likes of which most workers have never seen before.  

In the past few years, there has probably been a 30% latency in working distilleries.  This has now radically transformed with almost every distillery working at, or near, its full capacity and many mothballed facilities now being re-opened.  Indeed, beyond this, there is now a great rush to build extra capacity or even whole new distilleries in an effort to fill spirit into casks (remember spirit needs to be matured in cask for at least 3 years before it can be called Whisky).

Impression of Diageo’s new Roseisle distillery

In the past 12 months almost every major distilling company have announced expansion plans and even new jobs.  From Diageo’s £100 million  investment to expand Cameronbridge and the construction of the brand new Roseisle distillery, to William Grant’s rapid construction of its new Ailsa Bay distillery.  Edrington Group have also recently announced investment at its Macallan distillery, with a whole stillhouse due to be recomissioned.  More recently, Pernod Ricard announced their intentions to expand the Glenlivet distillery, while the recent Indian acquisition of Whyte & Mackay has brought new investment to the Black Isle, with close to a  doubling in capacity of the Invergordon distillery.

 Although, much of this growth is anticipative of the potentially huge expansion of developing markets, such as China, Russia, India and Brazil, it is more traditional markets that are truly driving the current growth period.  The U.S. saw sale increase by a margin of more than 10% in 2006, while France (now the second largest export market for Scotch) saw a jump of 7%.  Now with even the South America showing some real promise, the optimism amongst the usually canny Scots seems to be well justified.

Berit’s & Brown, Wilson Street, Glasgow

Now firmly established in the Merchant city, B&B’s has become the standard to which all other deli/bistro’s should aspire.  On this sunny/cloudy sunday afternoon, it was difficult to get a table for all three of us, a testament to the popularity it has developed with its loyal followers. 

Having managed to squeeze in, we were met by one of the attentive, welcoming staff.  B&B’s always impress me with their natural staff who genuinely seem to want to help (a rare breed indeed!).  Sundays are an extra special time at B&B’s as you can choose from varied lunch menu or from the extended breakfast menu.  At first this was only available until 11 a.m., but as is vital in any successful business, they listened to their customers, and have now let you choose your bacon and eggs until 2p.m.

We all picked sandwiches on this particular day.  My own, the “Reuben” was excellent.  A New York style sandwich on rye bread with pastrami, pickles and saurkraut.  This one is not likely to be to everyone’s taste, but the quality is excellent.  All sandwiches are served with their superb homemade coleslaw and brilliantly dressed salad. Dad had chosen the ‘Club’ which was all you would expect of a good Club sandwich.  The fillings are generous and as fresh as they possibly can be.  Mum’s ‘Peppery Horse’ was equally good.  It’s refreshing to find some creative fillings on a menu and the types of bread offered make it complete.

 As ever Berit’s and Brown was a pleasure to visit, definitely worth a trip if you’ve never been before!

9 / 10

Highlights: Great decor, fantastic food

Evening

It occurs to me that while living your life, its easy to forget just what you’ve done with it, and what you have learned as you meander through.

Not sure if blogging is the best way to record the events that are my life, but its at least worth a go.

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