A Glaswegian dining institution that has proudly championed the best of Scottish produce since it opened in the Merchant City in 1979.
Little changed since opening in 1979, Café Gandolfi is an important piece of Glasgow culinary heritage. Along with the Chip, it was a pioneer of modern, creative Scottish cooking based on excellent local and seasonal ingredients, and has kept the faith ever since. Hand-dived scallops from Barra are a fixture, and other regulars include venison from Rannoch Moor, peat-smoked salmon and Finnan haddie. Gentle nods to the wider world might include a hot pastrami sandwich or a Thai curry and there’s always a few pasta dishes on offer, but the bulk of the menu remains distinctly Caledonian. Chef Andrew Manson has a deft touch, crisping the skin on a snow-white piece of hake till it’s as appetising as pork crackling, serving it with a tart orange emulsion, or simply baking tiny apples to serve with Stornoway white pudding, cousin to the better-known black. The original hand-hewn oak furniture still feels stylish and a little Bohemian, the wine list is a thing of beauty, and service is impeccable. The only unwelcome change over the years is a rise in price, making what used to be a great drop-in bistro more of a big-night-out restaurant.
- High point: A real original serving exceptional quality food
- Low point: Quite expensive, and there's no lunch or pre-theatre deal
- Notable dish: Roast fillet of hake with a salted hake brandade, orange emulsion and crispy anchovies
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
- Music on stereo: nothing
- Capacity: 70
- Largest group: 35
- Open since: 1979
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 30
- House wine: £18.50 per bottle
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