New restaurant opening Singl-end provides Garnethill with some local nostalgia and proper Italian food
The restaurant comes from the folks behind The Butterfly & the Pig
New openings in Glasgow don't just have to be burger bars and retro doesn't just mean 1950s Americana and 'Keep Calm' posters. Jay Thundercliffe finds himself enchanted by some local nostalgia and proper Italian food.
A casual Italian restaurant opening in Glasgow should not be as much of a surprise as this. Yet 2013's explosion of places that make a meal out of sandwiching various meat items between bits of bread means it feels like a real rarity. And in terms of the city's traditional trattorias, it towers above – much like the huge, foliage-topped chimney that extends above this well-lit basement venue.
Secreted away on Garnethill – the last vestige of a community in the city centre, surprisingly strong and vibrant – Singl-end shows an admirable embrace of Glesga. Emanating from the successful Butterfly & the Pig stable, it celebrates Glasgow's grassroots: the immigrants, the tenement residents, the old lady across the close, the single-enders – those families who crammed into single rooms. It reminds us that much of what is good and bad in Glasgow is born from past social hardships and the tethering, comforting nature of family bonds.
The interior is a real pleasure, where benches and shutters adorned with textiles by local designers Rhubarb & Ginger, crockery made round the corner by Fireworks, and soft relaxing tones feel like a publican's bell on the recent run of knocked-back brick chic.
Casual, Mediterranean menus scroll past on screens, with tables having personal pull-down displays for perusing the loosely defined offerings. From breakfast to lunch, options include a fabulous home-cured brisket, served as part of a big breakfast or with a focaccia wedge and delicious minestrone soup – fresh, hearty and uncluttered by pasta.
The evening offering is minimal yet expansive – 'just' a five-course taster menu that will make heads and tastebuds spin. This good-value option showcases the kitchen's impressive breadth, from antipasti arancini and courgette fritters to primo and secondo courses featuring salmon cured in beetroot, mackerel and triumphant lamb carpaccio. Baked gnocchi then pasta with white bolognese lead into delectable meats including breaded rabbit, superb salt cod in a light, spicy batter and steak with rocket. Desserts – mini tarts and tiramisù – are the only perceived weakness, perhaps merely because they fail to live up to the preceding savoury delights.
+ A loving, expertly executed taste of a unique city
– Sometimes you just don't want to look at electronic displays and TVs
265 Renfrew Street, City Centre, Glasgow, G3 6TT, 0141 611 7270, singl-end.com
Food served: Mon–Sat 8am–10pm; Sun 10am–6pm.
Ave. price of a two-course meal: £10 (lunch) / £22 (5-course taster dinner)