Food & Drink

Eat out, drink up


While it is perfectly possible to have fun at Glasgow’s various G1 ventures - whether it be the Polo Lounge, Corinthian, Arta, etc - you would not necessarily say the places had senses of humour.

That’s why the wee brochure Stefan King’s company produced for its new operation, Gong, was exceptional. Dropped here and there are pithy quotes, such as the classic Miss Piggy line, ‘Never eat more than you can lift.’ Not gotcha funny bone? How about this gem from Oscar Wilde: ‘Work is the curse of the drinking class.’

This is G1 ’s first venture in the West End and some neighbours near the old Salon cinema were predictably nervous with its take- over from the short-lived and ill-fated Littiejohn’s. But G1 played the community relations game properly and assured all that this was no heaving disco, but a bar and restaurant keeping moderate hours

(5pm-midnight during the week and from noon on Saturday and Sunday). Furthermore, Gong Is a place that

G1 finds a new use for the old salon cinema after the Ill-fated Littlejohn’s

critical response to his fresh approach towards tapas and Mediterranean meals at Arta has been strong. Here at

Side dishes

An extra helping of news . . .


have opened a new restaurant, Namaste, in Edinburgh at 41/42 West Preston Street (0131 466 7061). With chefs from Singapore who specialise in Northern Frontier and other sub- continental cuisine, Namaste’s interior design features lots of traditional Rajestani decor imported from Jodhpur by Perdip. This is his second restaurant after Coconut Grove in the West End. ‘Food is very important to us,’ Perdip says. ‘I’ve never really got the curries I’ve wanted in the UK.’ So he has brought across the chefs who, he believes, can do the job. With Gujarati and Punjabi food promotions on the horizon, Namaste has launched with a rather concise menu; focusing on fewer dishes, but trying do them fight

GLASGOW'S GAMBA RESTAURANT has been named the city's top restaurant for the second consecutive

year at the Glasgow Restaurant Association's Auchentoshan Spirit of , Glasgow Restaurant Award ceremony. At the recent gala dinner. ( the City Centre fish restaurant was i joined by La Parmigiana (best casual dining) and City Cafe (best newcomer) on the awards dais.

Gong, he offers small bites and sharing platter; big bowls ' and more traditional mains; pasta, pizza and salads. That's a lot of variety, from £34 roast lobster for two to crab cakes with chilli dipping sauce (£5.50) to grilled vegetables with saffron cous-cous (£7).

Brunch plans include traditional eggs benedict, bits and corned beef hash. A variety of cocktails of classier vein - eg martinis, cosmopolitan, sea breeze or bellini - are also

many locals could well come to appreciate, as it does offer a stylish, welcome alternative and room for 100 diners.

Yet, they may have to erase fond memories of first dates and snogging in the old movie house. The interior redesign means only those with an active imagination and eye for stray detail would realise this was once a cinema. Indeed, a huge curtain has been hung where the screen once was.

The old balcony now has one of two bars at either end of the space. Here and there snatches of original comicing can be spied amid the modern, angular decoration.

Key to the restaurant‘s success will be the kitchen’s executing the menu of chef Michael Smith. Popular and

(Barry Shelby)


in the pipeline. Priced 50% lower from 5—8pm daiiy, we may be laughing all the way to the proverbial bank.

I Gong, 17 Vinicombe Street. Hi/Ihead, Glasgow, 0741 576


With only a week before it would be launched. Gino Santin was in Edinburgh to check on progress of his latest Italian restaurant to join those already in London and Milan. Brimming with enthusiasm and displaying a touch of old-world cosmopolitan charm, the Venice-born restaurateur is what you might call a hands-on owner. And he was none too chuffed with partitions designed for the fine-dining space. They would have to go. he said. They did.

The restaurant on the wind-swept Conference Square plaza in Edinburgh's West End offers two dining rooms and menus. Santini focuses on more elaborate Italian cuisine. with a refined ambience. while the more spacious Santini Bis is casual, with the emphasis on smaller. simpler dishes. Part of the complex which houses the Sheraton hotel's new spa. ONE. Santini also operates the cafe upstairs where the pampered and health nuts can take rest and refreshment.

Santini restaurant is definitely geared towards the upper end of the market. But that will come as welcome relief to

Up-market Italian Cuisine in Edinburgh's West End

those who see Edinburgh increasingly dominated by too many damn cheap. cheerful pizza and pasta joints. Prices on the fine-dining menu hover in the 210 range for starters and pasta; closer to £20 for the mains. With chefs and staff from Italy. the goal is to give Edinburgh a little piece of Italy.

Here, the recipes combine fresh ingredients and straightforward preparation. It is all generally light. cooked with a minimum of butter or

cream. Ravioli is freshly made. Turbot is briefly seared. then baked and served with potatoes. red onions. capers. olives and tomatoes. Santin's ethos is that good food doesn't need to be all dolled-up. The artistry is in the cooking not the presentation. As he says. 'Good tasting food looks good. naturally.‘ (Barry Shelby) I Santini 8. Santini 8/3. 8 Conference Squre, Edinburgh. 0737 221 7788

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A DIVERSE GROUP OF TEN well-known Edinburgh restaurants have joined forces to promote these aspects they share: moderately priced meals (three courses for £15) and wines (a selection for 210), as well as a relaxed ambience. Headed by Nicolas Henderson of Henderson’s, the group includes Barioja, Far Pavillions, Howies, Mamma’s, Oxygen, Doric Tavern, Henderson’s, Magnum, Rick’s and Whighams. The group’s web site is

AS YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTED elsewhere in this issue. the CCA in Glasgow has been re-launched at 350 Sauchiehall Street. The Jorge Pardo designed bar faces Scott Street, while the cafe/bar named Tempus sits squarely in the heart of the renovated building.

A FEW WEEKS AGO THE FOOD page gave an incorrect telephone number for North Bridge Brasserie at the Scotsman Hotel. For bookings call 0131 622 2900.

18 Oct-1 Nov 2001 THI LIST 121

' Hoegaarden