Food & Drink: Bites - Eating Out In Glasgow

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The Independent Culture
The pace of new restaurants opening in this year's City of Architecture and Design is frenzied. Even between meals, eating is high up on the cultural agenda, as the Art Gallery and Museum's exhibition Food: Design & Culture demonstrates with Martin Parr photographs of Glasgow's food traditions and studies of the design of food products including Tesco's Finest range and airline meals. The shuttle service to and from London is well used by the restaurant trade. In July London's Groucho Club opens Groucho Saint Jude's, a restaurant with six bedrooms at 190 Bath Street, for the same media clientele as the Soho club, though there won't be a membership requirement.

Air Organic,

36 Kelvingrove Street, Glasgow (0141-564 5200). Sun-Thur noon-11pm, Fri, Sat noon-midnight.

Join the jet set at the fantastic-looking joint with an air-travel theme in 70s beige and cream, like, to use an overworked comparison, Wallpaper* magazine come to life. Downstairs is a bar with DJs, upstairs in the restaurant, the menu looks like an airline ticket, and the organic content of each dish is rated as a percentage. Food is predictably long-haul and strong on seafood, with the likes of Thai seafood broth with coconut, lime and coriander, and blue-fin tuna salad with herb and shallot dressing; otherwise Roma tomato bruschetta with olives and parmesan, new-wave pizza, and judicious use of healthily nurtured meat. Around pounds 20 a head.

Cafe Gandolfi, 64 Albion Street, Glasgow (0141-552 6813). Mon-Sat 9am- 11.30pm, Sun noon-11.30pm.

Nearly 20 years old, the dark, woody and stained-glass windowed Gandolfi has become a deliciously ingrained habit for Glasgow's cafe society. A mellow but not lethargic coffee-house cum restaurant, it offers a wide range of styles and prices, from croissants, scones and sourdough sandwiches, to updates on Scottish classics such as Stornoway black pudding with mushrooms and pancakes (pounds 4) and cullen skink (pounds 3.50), along with more contemporary dishes such as chicken breast with coconut and chilli sauce (pounds 10.20). Any time of day, it's somewhere to linger over great coffees, teas, bottled beers or wine with or without meals.

Fusion, 41 Byres Road, Glasgow (0141-339 3666). Tue-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm, Sun 6-9.30pm.

The owner is not Japanese and the chefs are French but trained in the art of sushi so convincingly that this three-month-old arrival is often booked up a week ahead. Or is it that sushi is still a novelty in Scotland? Whatever, Fusion is funky-looking, almost intimidatingly trendy, has helpful staff and exclusively Japanese food at an accessible price - pounds 15-pounds 20 a head. You can't go wrong with a focused menu of sushi and sashimi, salads, tempura, yakitoi, teriyaki, and thick or thin noodles in soups or fried.

Lux, 1,051 Great Western Road, Kelvinside, Glasgow (0141-576 7576). Tue-Sat 6-11.30pm.

Top floor of a two-tier establishment which opened less than 18 months ago, which makes it almost long in the tooth by the standards of eating out in Glasgow. The ground floor brasserie is called Stazione, as befits the occupant of an old railway ticket hall. Also fittingly, Lux, the evenings- only restaurant upstairs, is light-filled from large windows, elegant and assured in all departments. It has ideas above those of Stazione, carried out with clarity: warmed mackerel with Scottish salmon and pickled- beet dressing; halibut on lemon-grass couscous with a watercress olive oil; tournedos of pork with rhubarb and a sage jus. Three courses are pounds 25, with supplements only for pommes dauphinoises and cheese.

Nairns, 13 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow (0141-353 0707). Daily noon-2pm, 6-10pm.

While celeb chef Nick Nairn dashes about gathering wild food in between TV shows, he leaves his signature all over his elegant modern town-house restaurant (including the signed menus for sale), and the kitchen in other capable hands. Scottish produce is to the fore in a menu of clear, contemporary and inventive dishes: shellfish fettuccine with mint and coriander; char- grilled monkfish, mussel and bean stew; Chivas whisky parfait with prunes and Earl Grey syrup. Portions are not overwhelming, prices are not extortionate: dinner is pounds 27.50 for three courses, lunch pounds 13.50 for two.

No 16, 16 Byres Road, Glasgow (0141-339 2544). Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6-10pm.

A converted Pierre Victoire has emerged victorious since it was taken over at the end of last year by chef Rupert Staniforth and his wife Aisla, with ex-Nairns chef James Hardy cooking. It still looks like a shop-front bistro, but is elevated from any pedestrian associations by exemplary cooking and very friendly service. Vivid flavours emerge from a modern British menu with the likes of sardines grilled with Bajan spices, carrot and spring-onion salad; pigeon breast with celeriac remoulade, orange and caramelised walnuts; red snapper with salt cod brandade and black olive dressing, or guinea-fowl with chorizo and spicy cashew-nut sauce, from lunch and dinner menus that change daily. The memorable sticky-toffee pudding is, however, a fixture. For cooking of such merit, prices are amazing: from pounds 2 for soup, it's around pounds 15 for three course a la carte lunch, little more for dinner when the most expensive main course is pounds 10.50, and the pre-theatre deal is pounds 8.50 for two courses, pounds 10.50 for three.