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
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
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
1 SIMPLE SEAFOOD CQDKING
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
FOOD & DRINK
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