111 begins to add up
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 20 November 2015
Kelvinside is no destination dining district but a neighbourhood restaurant with a new charitable direction is adding up on different fronts
Number 111 Cleveden Road has gone through a number of guises under chef-proprietor Nico Simeone, who wasn’t long out of his teens when he first opened La Famiglia on the spot in 2011. Awards came his way even as that restaurant morphed into Simply Fish, still under Simeone’s pilotage. Now he has rebranded again, setting up his kitchen as an academy to help youngsters with tough starts in life to gain the skills required to be a top chef. A case in point is Modou, his Senegalese head chef. He started as a kitchen porter with Simeone in 2014, impressed with his passion and commitment, and now is a visible talent in the confidently wide-open kitchen.
Signage might change and layout alter, but at the heart of Simeone’s various incarnations is cooking that is consistently among the best in the city – at prices (set at 2 courses for £17, 3 for £20 or a tasting menu with wine for £30) that are surprising, if not bewildering. Suburban rents are clearly a mere snip of those more central since there is no chink in the quality of ingredients used nor evidently skillful staff, both working the floor and in the kitchen.
The compact menu presents dishes in terms so stark it borders on the brusque. ’Beetroot’ comes with ’walnut, gorgonzola, black olive’, which rather belies the good-looking combination of earthy, mellow beetroots and warm nutty flavours, combining the bite of cheese and salty tang of olive paste. Likewise, ‘ox tongue’ doesn’t prepare you for some deep, rich nuggets, contrasting crisp exterior with creamy insides.
Lamb requires a £4 supplement but the tender shoulder does come with heady truffle, as well as celeriac impressively done four ways. The sweet, floral notes of pomegranate and parsnip in the cod dish might be overpowering for some palates, but there’s no disputing seafood is still very well handled here. Side dishes might be needed to bolster a main (potatoes other than fries would be nice), which will notch the bill up a little, but not much.
Sweets don’t hit the same heights — a deconstructed pear cheesecake dish is let down by overly crunchy pear, showing up the limitations of the spoon as a cutting implement — but this does little to diminish one of Glasgow’s top dining experiences.
+ Attractive, enticing, exciting food at near-budget prices
- Deserves better than MOR music on the stereo
Avg. price of a two-course meal: £17 (set lunch / dinner)