Upon dropping anchor at The Finnieston, you could almost have been transported to some place on The Shore in Leith or a village in the East Neuk of Fife between its low-ceiling, snug wooden booths, weathered feel and seafood-centric cuisine. Situated in the premises previously occupied by Café Bayan, the Argyle Street bar and restaurant’s air of cosy waterfront charm is manufactured, but that doesn’t prevent it from representing a breath of fresh sea air in an area not exactly lacking strong competition.
It’s the owners of nearby Lebowksis that are behind The Finnieston, opened in September, and they bring the same dedication to fresh, locally sourced and 'traceable' seasonal produce (the menu changes every couple of days), albeit here in pursuit of a finer dining and drinking experience, with fairly precipitous prices to match. The food’s good, but the cocktails are even better, and they perhaps point to where The Finnieston’s success will more so lie: it’s not difficult to conceive of this place becoming a popular haunt among your fussier West End drinkers à la The Ubiquitous Chip and Stravaigin.
A Rangoon Daisy aperitif (gin, maraschino, orgeat syrup, bitters and lime) is typical of the kind of novel, grown-up concoctions they mix at The Finnieston. Sharp, citrusy and refreshing enough to be the perfect hair-of-the-dog drink (did it not cost £7.50 a hit), it makes for a good palate-cleanser before a starter of a terrine of moist haggis and ham hough with a heart of black-pudding at the centre, served with a tuft of crisp green leaves and drop of apple purée.
The mains aren’t the most inspired – salmon in white wine sauce, steamed mussels, fish and chips. The 'luxury' fish pie practically requires a small submersible to dive to the assorted fish cuts lying at the bottom of the pot, though the special of skate wings served on a bed of mash is more elegant and out of the ordinary. A sprinkle of popping candy adds a zingy flourish to a raspberry and vanilla panacotta dessert, before the eye again wanders towards the selection of fancy digestifs (the Admiral’s Coffee, spiked with cognac and rum, maintains the seafaring feel), gins (over 32 variants) and martinis, which will keep many diners at their table long after their meal.
This review is taken from the current (2016) edition.
Like so many joints in this buzzing area, the Finnieston manages to be on-trend without being full-on hipster. Decked out in a nautical theme, the ropes, chains and exposed brickwork make it feel pretty hardy. Strong relationships with suppliers mean that you could be sat beside a photograph of the fisherman who caught your dinner. In-season seafood is delivered daily, served simply with a choice of sauce and sides, which leads to a multitude of combinations such as black brill, smoked garlic and rosemary sauce, with green vegetables and champ or a fat fillet of sea trout, pink peppercorn butter and must-try sweet potato fries and chermoula mayo. Whatever the combination, it all goes together delightfully, hinting at a grand masterplan from the kitchen. In contrast to the simplicity of the mains, starters are more complex, such as Tarbert scallops that are silky and salty against earthy parsnip purée, with pomegranate seeds adding a wonderful sweet pop. Excellent food and a very happening vibe mean an endless stream of just-left-the-office types, West End eccentrics and everyone in between is reeled in to this excellent establishment.
- High point: Great food, drinks and morals
- Low point: Awkward toilet/sink/hand-dryer layout
- Notable dish: Hand dived Tarbert scallops with curried parsnip puree, pomegranate, lotus root crisps and salty fingers
- Private dining: Up to 12 covers
- Provides: Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Outdoor tables, Free wi-fi
- Music on stereo: Funk and soul
- Capacity: 46
- Largest group: 12
- Open since: Sep 2011
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 35
- House wine: £18 per bottle