Food & Drink

Eat out, drink up


Drink is noer to

Well worth returning to Cathedral Hous


The Medicine Room is giving bar food a good name in Glasgow; so does that make it a vaunted gastropub? Words: Barry Shelby

hat the hell is a ‘gastropub‘. anyway? The definition is unclear and the expression‘s origins are a bit shady. Some say it began in 1990 with two brothers named Eyre and a pub named the Eagle on Farringdon Road. London. Best we can tell: it

is a bar that serves good food.

Is that all“? Apparently. but even if we don‘t precisely grasp the definition. our view is rather similar to an

esteemed jurist‘s take on obscenity: we may not know what it is. but we recognise it when we see it.

The Medicine Room is it (a gastropub. not an obscenity). On the strength of David Harrison’s cooking alone. the bar at Cathedral House in Glasgow can happily be recommended. I give it .000

Harrison only recently took the reins of the kitchen. Previously he was sous chef under Kenny Coltman at Farfelu. which is one of The Lisr‘s favourites. Indeed. Coltman happily handed over his second and took a financial stake in the operation (which is managed by the same people who run Brel and Ad Lib).

The Medicine Room menu is straightforward and benefits from such simplicity. Starters include warm salad of black pudding. crisp bacon and poached egg (£3.95). seared salmon fillet on a creamy chive pomme puree with swirls of savoury tapenade (£4.25) or moules mariniere (£4.75). Those three happen to come in large portions.

Mains range from warm yellow fin tuna nicoise (£6.75) and gorgonzola. potato and spinach tan (£6.75) to warm confit chicken leg salad with orange dressing (£5.50) and grilled Bamsley chop with potato salad. crowned by a fried egg (£6.95). Portions are nearly perfect and presentation is handsome.

The Bamsley chop interestingly also highlighted on the menu of Time Out’s gastropub of the year. Lots Road Pub. in London is succulent. It is a legendary cut in south Yorkshire. weighing sometimes as much as 31b and allegedly served to visiting royalty. Here it’s of more

reasonable proportions. comforting on the creamy mayo



I BanAlba 11 Grassmarket. Edinburgh. 0131 229 2665. Try the orient express combo of Chinese influenced seafood starters or crisp battered chicken fillets.

I Eighty Queen Street 80 Queen Street. Edinburgh. 0131 226 5097. Smoked chicken and chorizo salad with mango salsa is notable.

I Human Be-In 2—8 West Crosscauseway. Edinburgh. 0131 662 8860. Moroccan spiced monkfish skewers with sesame fried cabbage: there's one you wouldn't expect at your local boozer.

I Lowdown 158—164 Bath Street. Glasgow. 0141 331 4060. Chef John Quigley combines traditional favourites (beer-batter cod) with more adventurous fare such as Creole-spiced fisncakes on the tapas platters.

I Strata 45 Queen Street. Glasgow. 0141 221 1888 Yahoo for pan-roasted pork fillet with tomato. olive and basil sauce or salmon served on egg noodles with oyster dressing. (Barry Shelby)

potato salad and fit for a monarch. Harrison’s pan-fried chicken livers are cooked v pink

(as is the style these days) and the only complaint with this dish is that the pine nuts could have benefited from longer toasting. Vegetarian courses don't appear to be an afterthought. judging from the tangy gorgonzola tart stuffed with fresh leaves. The Bookmaker steak sandwich (£5.25) is. however. is a surprising disappointment: overcooked tough bits of beef that made for awkward eating.

But it’s perversely reassuring that the challenging dishes come off more successfully. And it encourages us to try the restaurant upstairs soon. Only open Thursday to Saturday just now. Cathedral House restaurant changes its fixed price menu (£21.95 for two courses) every week. Recently. Harrison featured fillet of pan-fried red snapper. roast rump of new seasoned lamb with white pudding and lasagne of Mediterranean vegetables.

Still. the Medicine Room. with the mezzanine dining space looking out towards Glasgow cathedral and the necropolis. is our cup of tea.

The Medicine Room, Cathedral House, Cathedral Square, Glasgow, 0141 552 3519. Cathedral House is serving graduation meals (two courses for £12.95 and three for £15.95) throughout the month.

Side dishes

An extra dollop of news 7. . .

I FOR THOSE FOR WHOM food is not enough, Zinc restaurant is luring punters to Lelth’s Ocean Terminal with a food and film deal. An easy £20 gets you a two-course meal, a ticket to the Ster Century multiplex plus a cinema snack such as popcorn or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Side dishes sent an emissary and found that while service was erratic, food was of a high order: a mushroom tart featured a light, airy pastry and vegetable paella was made with compellineg sweet yellow rice. The fact that we chose to go on to Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is our own fault entirely. Call 0131 553 8070.

I IN GLASGOW, WlNTERGlLLS pub owner (and former Celtic player) Jim Brogan has relinqwshed that West End landmark and moved across the river to take over the Victoria Pub in Govanhill. In doing so, he 2:: now neighbour of another Celtic veteran. Billy McNeiil, wno owns the eponymously named bar on Torrisdale Street.


in Edinburgh has converted its bar named 399 into a fine dining restaurant called Vermilion. The fixed price menu (£39!) offers lots of fresh, locally sourced produce. Executive chef Geoff Balharrie favours dishes such as dressed Skye crab and langoustines with pressed rosemary-roasted tomato and sweet basil oil or loin of Ayrshire lamb with haggis and smoked bean cassoulet. Gregor Mathieson, who is responsible for designing Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant at Gleneagles, did the interiors.

I FINALLY, WE'VE HAD A chance to admire the Vistas afforded by the Outsoer, the next restaurant from the owners of the Apartment in Edinburgh. Rather stunning over roofs. chimney pots and the Grassmarket towards the castle. Oihef‘lee the place is a work site wath blokes in hardhats, but it won't be long: an opening is planned for August.

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