A Glaswegian dining institution that's championed the best of Scottish produce since opening its doors in the Merchant City in 1979.
Four decades young in 2019, Café Gandolfi – the flagship outlet of a mini-empire on Albion Street – remains a timeless institution. The revolving doors salvaged from the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross bear the scars of ages. The unmistakable driftwood-like sanded pine furniture looks more weathered than ever. The first fashionable eatery in the Merchant City back in 1979, Gandolfi is today surrounded by competitors. And yet the sense of confidence and pride hasn’t waned. Gandolfi is most popular as a brunch and lunch restaurant, with its stacks of pancakes and French toast and classic Cullen skink and Finnan haddie – the night-time crowd tending towards Bar Gandolfi upstairs and nearby Gandolfi Fish. But they still do an exceptional evening meal, using Scottish ingredients with flourish. Be it a salad of smoked beetroot jumbled among charred gem lettuce, radicchio, croutons, caramelized fig and candied walnuts. Or a main of pan-seared Barra scallops in Hollandaise with smoked haddock and Stornoway black pudding hash. Or a simple-as-you-like home-baked caramel shortcake for dessert. The seasonal menu is always changing, and forty years on Gandolfi still offers something a little different practically every time.
A Glasgow institution beloved by city workers and weekend shoppers, Gandolfi very much sticks to the principle of 'if it ain't broke …' when it comes to both its décor and its menu. The heavy carved oak benches, chairs and tables around the cosy bar and the old photos of the city haven't changed for years. And regulars would be disappointed if staples like haggis, neeps and tatties, Gandolfi's macaroni cheese or scallops were dropped for trendier dishes. Light meals and starters include piquant Arbroath smokies, perfectly balancing the strong flavour with light tomato, cream and parmesan sauce, topped with pieces if toast, or a hearty chickpea daal with onions and pitta bread for dipping. There's a good choice of pastas, but a chicken kiev dish disappoints with a glutinous texture and soggy spinach. However, there's not much to fault in the peat smoked salmon from the Summer Isles, simply presented with bread, lemon and salad to let its subtle taste linger. A dessert of fondant cake more resembles a chunky brownie but is accompanied by their high quality ice cream. Overall, a classy experience with a timeless air.
Few can claim to be Glasgow foodies without having sampled the wares of Cafe Gandolfi – for over 30 years this bohemian restaurant has been at the front of Glasgow's culinary revolution. Inside is dark and rustic – deep mahogany-coloured tables and a scattering of exceptionally high backed chairs line the wood-panelled walls, while the moody lighting adds to the arty feel. The Scottish-driven menu has seen little change over the years with staples such as Cullen skink, haggis, neeps and tatties or the infamous Stornoway black pudding – mild yet full of flavour served with buttery mushrooms and a couple of thick, slightly sweet home-made pancakes. Marsala and rosemary braised chicken is a cracker from the handful of specials on offer – a large moist chicken breast, wrapped in quality prosciutto and served with rich, creamy pecorino pea sauce, crisp little roast potatoes punch even more flavour into the dish. Open from 9am every day, they also do a great breakfast till noon covering the usual favourites with a few tantalising surprises. The classic full option features a delicious Macleod and Macleod pork and Stornoway black pudding sausage, while the pudding itself features heavily throughout – in an eggs Benedict or with pancakes and mushrooms. There's also the rare Stornoway white pudding, served with onions, apple and Cumberland sauce, not forgetting eggs almost any way you can dream of, including eggs en cocotte (baked) with ham and cheese.
Text supplied by third party.
- Provides: Gluten-free options, Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Free wi-fi
- Capacity: 70
- Largest group: 35
- Open since: 1979
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 25
- House wine: £20 per bottle
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