Food & Drink

Eat out, drink up

c’ué‘it Hoar:

Iasgow’s Italian Centre, despite its

name, has a cosmopolitan bent when

it comes to dining and drinking. Today, the restored Merchant City landmark ventures towards the New World for the first time with the opening of Cuba Norte. In order to make room for this sprawling taste of Havana, however, Cafe Qui and the rather insipid Irish theme bar Kilkenny’s had to go; at least in the latter instance, good riddance.

The basement venue has been cleared of

all the Celtic kitsch and road signs aplenty; to be replaced with vintage photos of old Havana and the city’s now world-famous musicians like the Cuban All Stars. Indeed much of the renovation work has been to strip everything back to its more natural state; the mahogany bar freed of paint, stone flooring liberated from old carpet. As one worker was reportedly overheard to say, it was like taking a Halloween mask off a supermodel. The vaulted brick ceilings of the

subterranean space add the correct

atmosphere in the dining area, which

accommodates about 90.

Across the room, to the left as you enter from John Street, is the lounge, lowered a few steps with plenty of couches - a fine place to enjoy a cigar. The cocktail list features several rum-based drinks, perhaps highlighted by the Papa Hemingway, the

author’s own concoction of Cuban rum, pink

grapefruit juice and fresh lime. Smack dab in the middle is the dance floor where regular Latin dance lessons

will be taught in the evenings before DJs and the served.

occasional live salsa band can let things fly until

midnight during the week and lam Friday and Saturday. The cafe above, with a mezzanine and outdoor

seating on both pedestrian mall and within the Italian

It was like taking a Halloween mask off

a supermodel

Centre courtyard, opens at 83m, serving both Cuban and Scottish breakfasts (as well as Cuban baps with a variety of fillings). For lunch, Cuban cigar rollups at about £5 are the featured attraction. Some such as the ‘classico’ offer authentic combination Cuban ingredients such as honey roast pork, smoked ham and salami, while the “sloppy Joe’ borrows more from

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Htlltl to billeze that less than a year ago tapas '.'.ere a ltilli§ in Glasgow. While they were certainly part of some I atin themed menus and served as atterthoughts at a few bar's. nobody was devoted to them. How times change. Dukes bar in the West End has not onli, had a complete overhaul. with all the Prairie land Americana off the walls. but nov. otters a dedicated tapas menu from noorrfpm. Chet Alan liew is slightlt. chagrined at the timing. 'I had the idea over a tear and a halt ago.’ he says. But since then. of t‘LlLll'f‘i) l a last‘a. Fl Sabor' and Arta restaurants opened Milli) tull tapas menus. as ‘.'.el|.

Dukes. laaxrext-r. remains tirmlg, a bar. Nor. hitter the management of Mandt lxlaclnms. it's still a wee place .iitiiot.gii lt).7llilifl than it ‘.'.'as. thanks to tlit- {tritlll‘ and rerno:al of clutter. l-ie'fs tar as are all under 11%. ranging from grilled mussels on the halt shell

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104 THE LIST ' ':~ l~.'.:'

Rum, cigars, Latin dancing . . . oh, and food

Miami’s Little Havana. And also beginning at noon and running on into the evening, a range of tapas are

Head chef John-Paul Persighetti spent time in the Caribbean cooking for a variety of venues. Now after more than two years working at Cuba Norte in Edinburgh, he commutes to the Glasgow operation

where he says he enjoys the challenge of a larger

space to try out his Nuevo Cubano recipes. As he

says, ‘Good, fun, entertaining food.’ In the evening only (until 11pm), the basement restaurant will offer

(Barry Shelby)

croustada 652.50) and roast potatoes with lll()]() chilli sauce iS‘l .65».

lvlaclnnes suggests a cold pint ol San Miguel as accomr)animent. btit Dukes still has some 91') llaxoured vodkas as well as a few specialist brands in cold

storage. such as Poland's gently hei'b‘;

Bison Grass.

.Just down the way from Dukes on the premises of the old Murphy's Pakoi'a Bar. Indian appetisers have given way to a fair number of Spanish influenced ones at Moloco. Its range of tapas ipr'iced (31.95 and 532.9% include Spanish bean stew and lamb. mint and paprika kebabs. Moloco also otters pizzas. pastas and burgers.

Glasgow is still chasing Edinburgh in the tapas stakes. One of the best in the capital is Barioja (19 .lettrei,’ Street. where it‘s not unusual to hear Spanish being spoken most afternoons. A recent visit revealed

some standardbearing fried calamare.

succulent ‘.'.llll nag a trace of ant, rubbery COllSlSlellC‘). Also receiving good (SHIB‘IJS of late is Tapas Tree ‘7

Persighetti’s more elaborate creations: starters such as a smoked haddock and herb hash cake (with creamy hemp pesto sauce) and mains like Cuban spiced ground beef on black beans and rice - or in the more evocative Spanish ‘picadillo con Moros y Cristianos.’

I Cuba Norte. If John Street. ()lasgoiz, (NJ? ’-,‘:>./‘i:'

The last of the old Duke’s kitsch

Ferth Str'eeti, Of it ot‘e SLIIT’IEt. pacer recently remarked that it threes the passion of Flarrrencr. (3'.i".ar" iBarn,’ Shelb;,.

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The Salon

MASH HS ()I- THE.- l/iertliant (Hi). Stefan

K rigs (ii (jroup. have recently purchased two ‘r'flest [-iid Glasgow properties: the Crest/error and Salon theatres. Films i. continue to be shown at the former rat least for he time being, but the Salon was converted into a restaurant last year by the Scottish chain Littlejcrtn's. Recently it added a more upscale rvneiu .vnile becoming less family friendly; r‘eititer of which were wast: 'ttQ'/BS. G1 says it complete a second refurbishment to ‘Cori'ttl‘iran standards this year and reopen.