The best places for barbeques in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Barbecue recipe alternatives to burgers and sausages
Aussies and South Africans snigger at our pathetic attempts to feed ourselves from an open fire, but we're a determined lot. At the merest hint of summer it's out with the firelighters and a kilo pack of sausages, disregarding midges, salmonella and irate park keepers. For the more discerning al fresco cooks and diners, here's The List's lowdown on how to spark up your barbecue summer.
The best city venues
Smart City Hostel, 50 Blackfriars Street, Old Town, Edinburgh, 0870 892 3000, www.smartcityhostels.com
Tucked in off the Cowgate, and always likely to draw an international crowd of backpackers, Smart City warm up the charcoals every Saturday and Sunday through summer from about noon, with halloumi skewers and southern-fried chicken burgers in addition to bangers and burgers. DJs playing some funky soul, and a bit of terrace offering shelter from pesky showers provide valuable added extras.
12 Picardy Place, Broughton, Edinburgh, 0131 557 0952, www.hawkeandhunter.co.uk
There's a classy barbecue option available in the secluded Secret Garden behind Hawke & Hunter, with head chef Mark Greenaway overseeing food such as butterfly chicken breast or ginger and lime marinated sea bass. Barbecues are available for private events, or on Friday evenings from June onwards, with more planned for the Festival period.
12a Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh, 0131 557 6668, www.outhouse-edinburgh.co.uk
Various Edinburgh pubs with beer gardens (including The Pear Tree House and the Sheep Heid Inn) roll out their barbecues for summer, but the best known and best loved are the Outhouse's monthly Sunday hog roasts, featuring free burgers, DJs and over twenty continental bottled beers and ciders.
93–95 Hyndland Street, West End, Glasgow, 0141 357 5825, www.thecottier.com
Barbecues are taken seriously at this popular West End bar, making the most of its attractive outdoor space in the grounds of the former church. The grill is fired up from Friday to Sunday, noon until around 9pm, and there's an extensive menu offering marinated chicken, lamb koftas, steaks, salmon and prawn skewers, quality sausages and burgers, plus enticing salads. And the outdoor minibar means you never need to step into the shade.
731–735 Great Western Road, West End, Glasgow, 0141 357 6226, www.oran-mor.co.uk
Good weather in June and August signals the time for Oran Mor to get the barbecue going in its beer garden outside the former Kelvinside Parish Church, overlooking the bustling junction of Byres and Great Western roads. Running daily if the sun shines, the barbecue cooks up a range of flame-grilled classics to enjoy with a cooling cocktail or beer.
62 Argyll Arcade, City Centre, Glasgow, 0141 229 5270, www.sloansglasgow.com
This venerable city centre bar celebrates the coming of the weekend with a Friday barbecue in its arcade courtyard. Customers can enjoy the fine weather with a range of burgers, from beef and cheeseburgers to veggie varieties – all washed down with some fine beers and ales. And should you feel the need, you can burn off those calories with some energetic moves at the upstairs ceilidh.
44 Ashton Lane, West End, Glasgow, 0845 166 6011, www.socialanimal.co.uk
Gourmet burgers are the speciality of this G1 group restuarant, so it's no surprise that when the sun warms the cobbles of Ashton Lane, the barbecue makes an appearance. From noon until late, indoor diners and passers-by can order pretty much anything from the menu to be grilled al fresco on the coals. Choose from a vast range of burgers featuring Aberdeen Angus beef, chicken, veggies, or for the more adventurous there are wild boar and ostrich varieties.
36a Kelvingrove Street, West End, Glasgow, 0141 333 0869
Forget the DIY barbecue in Kelvingrove Park and head to this nearby bar for something a little different. The small courtyard manages to catch the sun for much of the day making it ideal for the occasional flame-grilled meal – usually around twice a month over the spring and summer. Burgers and bangers are forsaken for some enticing ribs, of the sticky, Jack Daniel's marinated variety, plus some chicken concoctions, all served up with Tex-Mex sauces and a big bowl of salad.]
And for her (or him) indoors …
For when the weather is bad, or you fancy something a little more exotic, there are a number of restaurants offering that flame-grilled taste under the safety of a roof. In Glasgow Anatolia Chargrill has tasty Turkish kebabs theatrically cooked on the large open grill, while Tropeiro offers the full-blown Brazilian Gaucho experience with skewers of various meats flying off the barbecue -- and they won't stop until you brandish the red card. The Merchant City's Khublai Khan's is the place for the Mongolian barbecue, while home-style Indian cuisine is available at the Southside's Kebabish Grill, where the flaming grill cooks up a range of tasty kebabs, chops and chicken.
Edinburgh has its own branch of Khublai Khan's down in Leith, always popular with groups with diners picking their ingredients, including zebra, springbok and ostrich, and then passing to the chef to barbecue on the open hotplate. A Far-East variant of open-fire cooking, the teppan grill, is fired up every weekend at Koi, while, the sizzle and smoke of the charcoal grill is an essential part of the atmosphere at Hanedan, with meaty favourites such as karishik izgara, a mixed grill of lamb, chicken and garlic sausage.
The best places to barbecue
Balloch, 0845 345 4978, www.lochlomond-trossachs.org
The best bet for a barbecue on the banks of Loch Lomond, this easily reached park area on the southern tip of the loch has picnic sites for visitors along with lochside and woodland walks. Supplies can be picked up at Valvona and Crolla's foodhall at nearby Loch Lomond Shores. A by-law prohibits the consumption of alcohol in the park – a ban that now stretches up much of the loch's east side.
Craigallion Road, Nr. Milngavie, 0141 956 6100, www.mugdock-country-park.org.uk
A wealth of visitor facilities at this popular park north of Glasgow include two well-appointed sheltered barbecue sites that can be rented out during the day or evening. One is family-oriented being close to the children's play areas, while the other is a quieter pond-side spot.
Langbank, Port Glasgow, 01475 540 505, www.finlaystone.co.uk
This attractive estate park a short journey from Glasgow offers a number of stone barbecue pits (booking advised, bring coals and grills) within its extensive woodland area. Entry fee costs £4 for adults and £3 for children, offering good value for a whole day out, with walks, play areas, gardens, great views, plus regular events and activities. The responsible drinking of alcohol is permitted as it is a private estate.
For an adventurous barbecue experience away from the crowds, head to Gourock by train or car and catch the 15-minute ferry to Kilcreggan on the southern tip of the peninsula. North along Shore Road are picnic benches on the shore of Loch Long with splendid views across to the Cowal Peninsula and down the Firth of Clyde. A walk around the nearby Linn Botanic Gardens well help burn off the barbecued lunch.
The battle of the disposable barbecue has seen Edinburgh City Council install concrete slabs (handily marked 'BBQ') at 21 sites across the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links in a bit to avoid burnt patches on their lush swards.
Try the open area beside the Water of Leith beneath the National Gallery of Modern Art, with a Gormley statue for company.
The long, rocky breakwater on the eastern side of Granton Harbour is undoubtedly a scenic spot, with views to the Forth islands, Fife and the sun setting behind the Forth Bridges. It's a bit exposed in an easterly breeze, but if you're a dab hand with a fishing rod you might just be able to catch a couple of mackerel for your firey feast.
East Lothian beaches
There are various options among the attractive beaches of the North Sea coast east of Edinburgh, with East Lothian Council providing bookable barbecue sites at both Yellowcraigs Beach near North Berwick, and in John Muir Country Park near Dunbar. You can book the built in barbecues by telephone on: 01620 893957.
Alternative barbecue recipes - What to cook that's not a sausage
These spicy lamb skewers are simple to prepare and cook, making them perfect barbecue food. Mix chopped onions and lamb mince, along with spices such as fresh chillies, ginger, cumin and coriander. Shape around skewers and give them some flame-grilled action. Serve with pitta bread and a cucumber and mint yogurt dip.
Forget the bangers and marinade some chops on the bone with some robust herbs and spices. Try olive oil, crushed bay leaves and garlic, or a peri-peri style marinade of olive oil, chopped chillies, lime juice, garlic, coriander, cinnamon and ginger. Don't overdo on the coals – tough chops are a friend to no-one.
Scotland's coastal waters teem with mackerel in the summer, making for a plentiful supply of delicious barbecue food. Stuff with garlic, lemon and herbs such as thyme or rosemary, season well and cook straight on the grill or wrap in foil. Catch your own for the ultimate in fresh food on an open fire.
Scotland's favourite fish is perfect for grilling over coals, either in fillets, steaks or whole – wrapped in foil, banana leaves or wet newspaper or held in a grill cage. Wrapping the fish allows the addition of plenty of herbs such as dill or thyme plus lemon wedges.
Fill bowls with a variety of vegetables such as corn cob pieces, pepper chunks, part-cooked baby potatoes, aubergine cubes, red onion wedges, cherry tomatoes, and cheeses such as halloumi or feta. Diners can build their own tailored skewers. Serve with various dips and pitta bread.
Posh things up with this grill-friendly version of the classic stroganoff. Dust steaks (rump, popeseye, sirloin) with paprika and cook on the coals along with chunky onion rounds and Portobello mushrooms. Heat sour cream in a pan with a dollop of Dijon mustard and pour over the stroganoff stack.