SINGLE-MINDED SPIRIT New openings in Glasgow don’t just have to be burger bars and retro doesn’t just mean 1950s Americana and ‘Keep Calm’ posters. Jay Thundercliffe finds himself enchanted by some local nostalgia and proper Italian food.

A casual Italian restaurant opening in Glasgow should not be as much of a surprise as this. Yet last year’s explosion of places that made a meal out of sandwiching various meat items between bits of bread means it feels like a real rarity. And in terms of the city’s traditional trattorias, it towers above much like the huge, foliage-topped chimney that extends above this well-lit basement venue.

Secreted away on Garnethill the last vestige of a community in the city centre Singl-end shows an admirable embrace of Glesga. Emanating from the successful Butterfly & the Pig stable, it celebrates Glasgow’s grassroots: the immigrants, the tenement residents, the old lady across the close, the single- enders those families who crammed into single rooms. It reminds us that much of what is good and bad in Glasgow is born from past social hardships and family bonds. The interior is a real pleasure, where benches and shutters adorned with textiles by local designers Rhubarb & Ginger, crockery made round the corner by Fireworks, and soft relaxing tones feel like a publican’s bell on the recent run of brick chic.

Casual, Mediterranean menus scroll past on screens,


with tables having personal pull-down displays for perusing the loosely defined offerings. From breakfast to lunch, options include a fabulous home-cured brisket, served as part of a big breakfast or with a focaccia wedge and delicious minestrone soup fresh, hearty and uncluttered by pasta. The evening offering is minimal yet expansive ‘just’ a five-course taster menu that will make heads and tastebuds spin. This good-value option showcases the kitchen’s impressive breadth, from antipasti arancini and courgette fritters to primo and secondo courses featuring salmon cured in beetroot, mackerel and triumphant lamb carpaccio. Baked gnocchi then pasta with white bolognese lead into delectable meats including breaded rabbit, superb salt cod in a light, spicy batter and steak with rocket. Desserts mini tarts and tiramisù are the only perceived weakness, perhaps merely because they fail to live up to the preceding savoury delights.

+ A loving, expertly executed taste of a unique city - Sometimes you just don’t want to look at TVs

265 Renfrew Street, City Centre, Glasgow, G3 6TT, 0141 611 7270,

Food served: Mon–Sat 8am–10pm; Sun 10am–6pm. Ave. price of a two-course meal: £10 (lunch) / £22 (5-course taster dinner)

32 THE LIST 23 Jan–20 Feb 2014

SIDE DISHES News to nibble on The encouraging vein of pubs devoted to craft beers with an eye for good food continues in Fife, where Bob Phaff of the St Andrews Brewing Company has teamed up with Tim Butler from the Seafood Restaurant to open the St Andrews Brew Pub on South Street, with 16 taps of keg and cask ales, a tapas menu, roaring fires and big bench tables.

On the St Andrews theme, the Macdonald Hotel at Holyrood in Edinburgh is now home to a Rocca Bar & Grill, linked to Adrian and Susan Pieraccini’s original restaurant in the Rusack’s Hotel overlooking the Old Course. Among notable new openings is Bindi, a Gujarati / East African vegetarian restaurant and cookery school that’s taken over from Ann Purna on St Patrick Square near the university. Over in Glasgow, the White Elephant is serving smart drinks and bar food in the Glasgow southside venue vacated by Gordon Yuill’s Merrylee Road Bar & Kitchen.


PANDA & SONS Entered on street level by what looks like the front entrance to an American-style barbershop, Panda & Sons is not just serving some of the finest cocktails in Edinburgh, but clearly having a lot of fun doing it. The team in this New Town speakeasy is led by Iain McPherson, previously of the Voodoo Rooms. A lengthy menu / story book explains the panda thing, as well as introducing some memorable cocktails including the smoke- swirled Birdcage (pictured). 79 Queen Street, New Town, Edinburgh EH2 4NF, 0131 220 0443,