If our trusty 'national newspaper' is to be believed, noodles are the next

big thing in the British food industry. So with perfect timing, then, comes Soba, the new ‘bar and

noodle kitchen' which opened on

the cusp of the new year in

Glasgow’s Mitchell

Lane. The brainchild of one-time newspaper

marketing executive and events

promoter Brad Stevens, Soba has replaced the late, lamented and short-lived blue bar café on the

ground floor and basement of the

Lighthouse centre for architecture. A redesign done by Glasgow's One

Foot Taller brings an olive (from

Southdown to Ripple) colour scheme and significantly more lounge seating, of the low-slung upholstered variety. The mandate, Stevens says, was to ‘warm it up

and funk it up'. About all that

adolescent mooning that apparently greeted diners

remains from its previous incarnation is a set of chunky wooden tables set in concrete that work well with the new look and bespoke furnishings. The addition of some frosted glass should discourage the occasional


The overall feel is less sterile and more down to earth: Stevens is convinced that his venture will fare better than blue as a bar that offers some freshly prepared and satisfying Asian-influenced cuisine. Alongside a range of , hearty noodle dishes comes a selection of sushi, bento 3 boxes and some fancier items such as crispy whole fish. Food is served from noon-10pm, with a more limited selection of snacks available until close. Soba has just signed on to the 5pm.co.uk website and internet bookings will secure a two-course meal and Tiger beer

for £8.50.

On the drinks side of the equation, several Sake-based


Fried snapper stands out at Soba

concoctions feature on the cocktail list, such as the Soba

Bomb (a shot of Sake dropped in a glass of beer), a

Saketini, and the Angry Red Planet, with vodka, tomato juice and some nippy wasabi mustard. This month nightly promos (5-8pm) include half-price cocktail pitchers; vodka, gin, or whisky doubles for the cost of a single; and a £1.40 pint of lager. With ambient hip-hop from a DJ backed by live percussionist and bass player (as well as accompanying video projections), Soba is looking for a different formula on the entertainment tip. And pending a license, Soba also plans to organise club events upstairs in the Lighthouse, using the bar for pre-

club warm-ups. (Barry Shelby)

I Soba, 77 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, 0747 204 2404.

SEAFOOD RECIPES Gamba gastronomy



Tempting recipes from a Glasgow chef

Completing a trilogy of recent books

that highlight local talent in Edinburgh

and Glasgow restaurants, Black and

White Publishing has issued perhaps its most ambitious title, Gamba: Simple Seafood Cooking. While the preparation of fish can be indeed one of the easier tasks in the kitchen (aside from searing beef steak), many if not most of us find the fruit of the sea a daunting prospect.

Author Derek Marshall, head chef and co-owner of Glasgow’s vaunted Gamba restaurant, does his best to live up to the book’s title, offering tempting reCIpes that should not tax any home chef. As with Edinburgh on a Plate and Glasgow on a Plate 2, this edition also features scrumptious photography by Alan Donaldson.

Arranged seasonally in chapters, each of which has half a dozen starters, another six mains and a clutch of puddings, the book also offers sample three-course dinners, complete with wine serving suggestions. The winter menu, for example, is feuillette (using puff pastry) of lobster, asparagus, mussels and thyme fish cream; grilled monkfish with leeks, honey and

mustard glaze; and rum and raisin creme brulee. Appendices include stocks and cremes, a metric converter and list of recipes (though, alas, no alphabetical general index).

The trickiest part of preparing fish is the timing and no book can hold your hand reassurineg while you cook. Marshall might leave some wanting with instructions such as ’fry for a few minutes on either side’ (peppered tuna steaks) or ’sear on both sides' (John Dory with pepper, prawn and tomato salsa). Nevertheless, most of the mains involve stove-top cooking, quick and easy, and the few done in an oven have more specific preparation times.

The tacit message is clear: simply don’t over do it. There is no better way to ruin fish than to cook it too long. And if you’re still frightened, you can always book a table at Gamba for inspiration. (Barry Shelby)

I Gamba: Simple Seafood Cooking, Black and White Publishing, Edinburgh, 15 76. 99/Gamba, 225a West George Street, Glasgow



Side dishes

News of new openings THE MUSSEL INN is coming to Glasgow next month. After nearly one year in the planning, the Edinburgh-based seafood and fish restaurant has finally secured the city centre Glasgow location it believes is ideal: Hope Street in the former premises of Ton Tun. Edinburgh’s StudioArc is handling the refurbishment. But in contrast to its iiber-styled predecessor on this site, Mussel Inn will focus more on food than fashion and flash. Although daily specials may differ, the menu in the Glasgow branch will be the same as at the Rose Street flagship. Obviously mussels are a speciality, arriving fresh from Muckairn Mussels Ltd, the Loch Etive-based farms of the restaurant's co-owner Walter Speirs.

AS ASSIDUOUS READERS of the diary column in a certain Glasgow-based broad sheet Will have noticed, the West End's venerable Ubiqwtous Chip is converting its former Wine shop into a new bar. No concrete opening date has been set (although early February is likely) nor has any name been chosen as this goes to press. The saloon Will be little more than a snug, however, With room for only about 28 tipplers.

BEWARE: COFFEE POLICE are on the prowl. A neat marketing trick by

Matthew Algie, the coffee and tea

purveyors who try their damnedest to make sure that their clients serve a proper cappuccino, this ‘new force of crime fighters' want to snuff out bad java. In a cyber-version of Crime Watch, people are encouraged to report instances of lousy lattes and execrable espressos to a web site, www.coffeepolice.com, where comments are posted on the police files page.

Some alleged coffee criminals have apparently been aghast at such publicity, but the campaign, however serious, keeps its tongue firmly in cheek and in fact no names are offered, only the street and city. In Edinburgh, for example, a Queensferry Street based venture was lambasted this month by Nigel Brown who reports, 'Tastes like they recycle the grounds here. There’s better flavour in an instant coffee than this.’

City centre seafood

l8 Jan—l Feb 2001 THE ll8T103