Cail Bruich West
No one quite expected the Gaelic renaissance to include food. Fiona Anderson took along her phrasebook for a meal in Glasgow's West End.
The name of any restaurant is crucial and Cail Bruich West has now joined other West End eateries (Òran Mór, Blas and a new Dumbarton Road café, Sith) in using the ancient tongue to scream their Scottishness and, paradoxically, their modernity. No longer are folk embarrassed by their roots, and Gaelic no longer means bearded old geezers in thick cable jumpers listening to fiddles in remote villages with unpronounceable names.
Similarly, Scottish food no longer means deep-fried haggis, macaroni pies and Irn Bru, but for a good while now has been all about hand-dived scallops, venison and the best beef in Britain. As TV chefs bang on about the importance of well-sourced ingredients and keeping it seasonal and local, everyone who's anyone is taking advantage of the best from Scotland's larder. If a modern Scottish menu doesn't give provenance to at least one ingredient - does anyone use black pudding from anywhere other than Stornoway these days? - then it quite frankly isn't even trying.
Paul and Chris Charalambous opened the original Cail Bruich (meaning 'eat well') in Quarriers Village by Bridge of Weir in 2006 and have been successfully serving the great and the good of that affluent outpost ever since. However, the young brothers fancied a challenge and in a gutsy move have taken on a second pitch next door to the Brasserie at Òran Mór.
Soft light from votive candles creates a welcome in the window, and inside, dark red walls and crisp white tablecloths give an air of elegance and sophistication to what's in essence an uncomplicated, rectangular room. Despite the sleek decor the place has a friendly family feel with one brother in the kitchen, one working front of house, and mum and dad helping out here and there.
From the starter selection, glistening scallops have a butter crust and wobbling centre and are served with a pea shoot salad and a smudge of cauliflower puree on the side, while toasted hazelnuts add an interesting touch to a light pigeon tartlet. For a substantial main, seared fillet of beef has a wonderful deep red centre and is both packed full of flavour and delightfully tender, while the accompanying ox cheek pie has crumbly hot water crust pastry, a dark, earthy, treacle-thick gravy and melting chunks of meat.
Halibut fillet is moist and well seasoned, topped with shiny beads of caviar and balanced on tender spears of white asparagus swimming in a salsify soup.
For desert, a warm chocolate fondant is so rich it presents a challenge to even the most hardened pudding lover, while an airy mousse brûlée rounds off the meal nicely and is accompanied with, fittingly, home-made Scottish shortbread.
725 Great Western Road, Glasgow
0141 334 6265, www.cailbruich.co.uk
Open: Tue–Fri noon–3pm, 5–10pm; Sat 10am–3pm, 5–10pm; Sun 10am–9pm. Closed Mon
Average price two-course evening meal: £24.