Crabshakk, 1114 Argyle Street, Glasgow
Dining Room, 104 Bath Street, Glasgow

Twenty-four hours in Glasgow. My mission: to find the best venues in town for lunch, dinner and – God willing – breakfast. My guide: Muriel Gray, who has been forcing her opinions down my throat for the best part of 25 years, just occasionally pausing in her ranting long enough to force a small amount of food down her own.

Our Glasgow gastro-tour began at lunchtime, in seafood specialist Crabshakk, which has become the hottest restaurant in town, despite its location on an unlovely stretch of arterial road a couple of miles west of the city centre. Walking in, we hit a wall of people waiting to be seated; either at the counter or at one of the tiny tables, some no bigger than tea trays, which have been crammed into the tiny space.

You've heard of a galley kitchen? This is a galley restaurant. So much has been packed so elegantly into the cramped shopfront space, it could have been designed by a yacht builder. Or an architect. Co-owner John MacLeod (no relation) designed some of Glasgow's most stylish restaurants, before opening his own place a year ago. Crabshakk is a clever, multi-tasking hybrid of traditional and modern, its sharp chrome and glass edges softened by wood-plank wainscoting, exposed brickwork and malformed tables of reclaimed timber.

"I don't think this place is going to work," joked Muriel as we shouldered our way through the mob, up the industrial steel staircase to a minuscule mezzanine area holding a handful of tables. The terse menu showcases Scottish fish and shellfish, simply prepared and unfussily presented, from whitebait, smoked mackerel and fish and chips through to whole grilled Scottish lobster at £38, and fruits de mer platter, to share, at £48. It's an all-day operation, so you could refuel on shellfish chowder or mussels and chips, or go for the full three courses, as we did.

Crab cakes, generously stuffed with white crabmeat spiked with chilli and parsley, benefited from the simple treatment, as did seared scallops, served sizzling on the skillet with a herb-scented butter. The scallops, our waiter informed us, were cultivated rather than dredged, cutting short a rant-ette from Muriel about the horrific environmental damage caused by scallop-dredging.

From the daily specials, meltingly fresh plaice, breaded and fried, came with a truffle and tarragon mayonnaise, in which the truffle oil was rather too dominant. Muriel's "wee supper" – that's a small helping of fish and chips – offered a generous piece of beer-battered cod for £5.95, though the jumbo chips, like fried segments of baked potato, didn't seem to belong on the same plate. And I could have done without the bagged salad gussied up with raw red onion; who wants to wake up still tasting yesterday's lunch?

We ended with a bracing affogato – vanilla ice cream drenched in espresso – and a fruit salad that played fast and loose with any claims to be seasonal. As did the fresh flowers on the table, identified by Muriel as peonies, and therefore not due to bloom until April. She went on, in a display of polymathy worthy of QI, to recognise the motif on the plaster cornicing as acanthus leaf with egg and dart, before returning to her rant about how the US was conspiring to block aid to Haiti.

A pleasingly mixed clientele spanning business folk and arty oldies, crisp but friendly service, and decent prices, make Crabshakk a winning operation. For a more formal dinner, we met up again later at Muriel's favourite city-centre restaurant, Dining Room. A gorgeously luxe basement room, with more than a touch of Deco swagger, it exudes the kind of grown-up glamour that would give Gordon Ramsay's joints a run for their money. This is a restaurant designed to be filled with beautiful people. Unfortunately, on the night we visited, it was empty apart from us, and our lovely, heavily pregnant waitress.

Chef/proprietor Jim Kerr (not that one) is a key figure in Glasgow's food scene, with a CV that includes many of the city's landmark restaurants, from Rogano and Nairns, to the original Dining Room, Kerr's first solo venture, a tiny place which was the Crabshakk of its day.

Unlike the predecessor which lends his latest project its name, this reincarnation of Dining Room doesn't appear to have found its market, at least on week nights. Kerr wasn't cooking on the night we visited, and the food didn't quite fulfil the promise of a menu which reads beautifully. Impeccable sashimi and a truffled Jerusalem artichoke soup shone, as did a main of roast rump of lamb, served garlicky and pink, with roasted root veg. But a tart bringing together cold pickled onions and raw figs didn't work at all; nor did the dessicated confit duck in a starter salad.

Desserts, including a peanut butter tart whose nutty pastry held a velvety filling of dark chocolate, showed the heights the kitchen is capable of reaching. And though prices are relatively high, this is clearly a special occasion restaurant, offering some competitively priced fixed menus.

Emptiness, and occasional glitches on the food front notwithstanding, I found plenty to like about Dining Room. And I'm not just saying that because Muriel told me – repeatedly – that I had to.

Crabshakk, 1114 Argyle Street, Glasgow (0141 334 6127)

Food 3 stars
Ambience 4 stars
Service 4 stars

£25 a head for three courses before wine and service

Dining Room, 104 Bath Street, Glasgow (0141 332 6678)

Food 2 stars
Ambience 3 stars
Service 4 stars

£35 a head for three courses before wine and service. Set lunch menu £13.50 for two courses

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen