African Queen Glasgow’s restaurants can serve up flavours from a broad geographic spectrum, but it’s fair to say that Abyssinia will be a new one for most of us. Eileen Heuston visits the Queen of Sheba
U nlike the lady it is named after, the Queen of Sheba has been slightly overwhelmed by its popularity since it opened in December. As a result the décor – a mix between utilitarian screens and African artefacts – has a half-finished look and the service can be slow too, but the staff are so eager to please that it’s easy to forgive. Table- sized serving trays are brought covered by a woven basket. The tray is draped with several huge, thick, pancake-like injera breads (ideally used as a plate and utensil, as no forks are provided) and various beef and lamb stews, which dominate the menu, are then scooped onto them. According to the menu, almost every meat dish has ‘Ethiopian butter or spices’ or ‘special’ spices added, thus risking a uniformity of flavour – even more so when the
10 THE LIST 4–18 Mar 2010
ingredient that’s supposed to differentiate a dish – for example the chickpeas in the Bozena Shiro – is almost absent. It is possible to choose one of two European dishes on the menu (steak or chicken and chips) or ignore the injera but that would mean losing out on what is, for most, a novel experience. + The novelty, the hospitality - The teething problems
QUEEN OF SHEBA 175 St George’s Road, Glasgow
0141 331 0192
Mon–Thu 5–11pm; Fri-Sun noon–11pm Ave. price two course evening meal £17
> RECENT OPENINGS
The best of the new restaurant, café and bar openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, covered in every issue by The List’s team of independent reviewers
Glasgow THE PARTNERS ITALIAN BISTRO 1051 Great Western Road, West End, 0141 339 5575, www.theitalianbistro.co.uk, £6.50 (lunch) / £17 (dinner) A replacement for Lux and Statione in the former Kelvinside railway station by Gartnavel Hostpital, and run by the team behind Tattie Macs off Gibson Street and The Partners Bistro in Bearsden, this tastefully decorated restaurant’s appealing menu reflects a fusion of ristorante and bistro styles. A wide choice of pizza and pasta dishes are available as you’d expect, but you might also encounter Oban scallops served with sweet potato, chorizo, and apple sauce, or meltingly good roasted pork belly. Coffee and pastries are served through the day, the bar has 30 wines by the glass and there’s live jazz at weekends.
BAR GAMBRINO 372–374 Great Western Road, West End, 0141 357 3071 Picking up from where the popular Republic Bier Halle left off, the sleek and relaxed Bar Gambrino – an offshoot from nearby Gambrino’s Ristorante – has left plenty unchanged but tweaked just enough to keep it exciting. The 2 for 1 pizza deal that was its predecessor’s main draw is still in full effect: the pizzas are juicy and loaded with toppings, yet avoid being sloppy; as do the gourmet burgers, generously piled with cheese and assorted delights, resting on a bed of chunky hand-cut chips. An extensive range of beer from around the world has been teamed up with the wine list from its parent venture across the street.
Edinburgh THE CHOCOLATE TREE 123 Bruntsfield Place, Southside, www.the- chocolate-tree.co.uk Lovers of real, hand-made chocolate will delight at the arrival of another chocolaterie in Bruntsfield. Alastair Gower and Friederike Matthis’ Chocolate Tree has roots in East Lothian, making organic chocolates with equal parts ethics and arresting flavours. Upgrading from stalls and tents at local fairs and farmers’ markets, they are now serving their creations from this cosy little café (including a secret snug out the back). Stop in for excellent hot chocolate as well as chocolate cakes baked on the premises.