Restaurant review: Hutchesons
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 23 September 2014
Minute attention to culinary detail ensures quality dining in a beautifully restored building
Glasgow’s successful Games and all-encompassing legacy can give the impression of a city bulldozing into the future, but Jay Thundercliffe finds lots to admire in an A-lister’s careful restoration into a quality dining venue
Anyone wandering in the Merchant City will invariably have their eye drawn to the imposing and elegant Hutchesons’ Hall. Built as a hospital in the early 19th century (relocating from the Trongate, from where it had operated since the 1640s), the exterior was renovated back in 2010 but its interior has languished from public sight for several years.
Impeccably revived and restored by a partnership between owners the National Trust for Scotland and James Rusk of the Butchershop Bar & Grill, the double-floored café-bar (serving breakfasts and light lunches) and brasserie is a delightful, must-see venue, even without any dining aspect. In a city that has a recent relish for clearing away the old for the shiny and new, it’s heartening to see Glasgow’s history so meticulously and mindfully resuscitated.
An early proponent of Glasgow’s meat refocus, Rusk delivers Scottish surf and turf, sourced carefully, cooked thoughtfully, with a keen eye for the importance of the full dining package. Minute elements throughout are clearly laboured over, from the aperitif cocktails – a classy collection well served in the ground-floor bar – to the majestic hall upstairs where lavish decorative features, original stained glass and palm fronds create one of the city’s most arresting dining spaces.
A starter salad of endive and pear may seem lowly compared to the high-enders such as platters of oysters, crevettes and lobster, but it comes with one of Scotland’s finest cheeses, Ailsa Craig goat’s cheese. Steak tartare is a highlight, as big as a burger pattie, bustling with herby notes. Alongside beef from top-quality local suppliers, a chargrilled monkfish main lets the seafood shine, simply served with lemon caper butter, good skin-on fries and rocket salad, although quality Shetland salmon struggles somewhat against deeply rich bean and chorizo broth. Desserts are accompanied by excellent ices – a cinnamon ice-cream lights up a thin and delicate apple tart, while blancmange and orange jelly features a zinging grapefruit sorbet.
+ A sumptuous setting for top-quality Scottish surf and turf
- Pricey – but the majestic surrounds justify the dent