Review: Porter & Rye

Steak has been taken to another level in Glasgow thanks to the introduction of Finnieston’s newest restaurant, Porter & Rye. It’s owned by the same people who own Finnieston favourites Lebowski’s & The Finnieston, with the aim of bringing together good quality aged beef & molecular cooking (how very Heston!).

Ever since Porter & Rye opened in December, I had been pining to visit & the perfect opportunity came up to go for dinner on Valentine’s day. The interior of the restaurant has a homely yet modern feel to it with stripped back brick walls & a sleek metallic style bar with open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. The seating is spread out with a few booths & bar types seats on the ground floor & a split mezzanine with booths to the back & table to the front. We were fortunate to be seated in the upper booth area which was cosy with dimmed lighting. It was also seated directly above the kitchen so I could sneak peeks at goings on downstairs.

rest

When I say steak has been taken to another level, this is evident when you’re seated. Our waitress had a blackboard with each type of steak, which cut of meat & the price. On the night, there was 30 day aged Galloway & 28 day aged Aberdeen Angus to choose from. I found out after our meal from John, the head chef of the group, that from pictures provided by their butcher, individual cows are picked by the restaurant for their meat to ensure they are getting the best quality!

We opted to order some drinks whilst deciding & I’ll admit that I hardly recognised any of the ingredients on the cocktail menu. That didn’t stop me & I ordered a tequila based cocktail that came with blue cheese stuffed olives that arrived with the biggest block of ice I’d ever seen! Normally that would put me off but on the first sip, it was evident that the focus here was on the alcohol & not masking the taste with fruity or sugary flavours! Not that I’m complaining!

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Our starters were chosen from the small plates section & we opted for beef carpaccio & smoked mackerel pate. I know, a beef starter when we’re about to have a steak but I couldn’t resist. This was the first evidence of the molecular cooking as the carpaccio arrived with a domed cover filled with smoke that evaporated once uncovered. Despite this, I could still taste the smokiness with each bite of the carpaccio. The smoked mackerel pate had a similar smokiness to it, hinting that it was smoked in-house to give it a subtle taste. The pate also came with 8 oatcakes which couldn’t be finished as we had to keep space for the main! We also received some of the oysters that were on special that weekend with compliments of the chef. These were covered with an apple foams with tiny bits of diced apples, seated in a crate on a bed of seaweed which our waitress made smoke with some liquid poured over it. These were divine – very fresh & tangy from the apple & a nice change from the usual oysters au natural.

starter

The main event was to die for! We opted for a chateaubriand medium rare which came with 2 sides & 2 sauces. It was difficult to choose only 2 sides but we narrowed it down to broccoli & marrow bone mac & cheese which I had heard good things about. Before your steak arrives, you are presented with a selection of steak knives & allowed to choose which one you prefer! The steak was beautiful – perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth & full of flavour. I honestly could have eaten the whole thing to myself it was that good! I’m normally a fast eater but I took my time with this as I wanted to savour every mouthful.

beef

Our sides were also fantastic. Although we had tenderstem broccoli as they had run out of purple sprouting, it was crunchy yet slightly buttery & salty – a far cry from my usual plain old boiled broccoli I make at home! And the mac & cheese, what can I say? I’d never been sure about trying bone marrow but the small cubes that were mixed with the mac & cheese were meaty & complimented the pasta perfectly. The mac & cheese was not overly cheesy which actually went quite well as it wasn’t too heavy & didn’t detract from the steak. Our sauces were porter & bacon & smoked garlic & pink peppercorn & although they were nice, I didn’t feel they were needed as the steak & sides provided enough flavour for the main course.

sides

With my main I had a particularly fabulous cocktail which had a spirit I had never heard or, nor can recall but had green apple sorbet in it with a large slice of a granny smith. I’d never had sorbet in a cocktail but it was really refreshing & helped soak up the (strong) alcohol that was in the cocktail.

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I have to take my hats off to Porter & Rye for providing a dessert I could not resist, which is rare for me. I opted to have the peanut butter ice cream with banana & toffee sauce to end my meal. The ice cream was creamy & a not so strong but just about right peanut butter flavour. The banana was in the form of chips & caramelised banana chunks which was perfect with the toffee sauce.

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Porter & Rye was the best dining experience I’ve had since we dined in a Aux Armes de Bruxelles on our mini-moon. Yes it was expensive (we were £98 in total) but the reflection of the amount of time, effort & money they have spent developing the concept & dishes is evident from the moment you are seated. With new starters due to be launched in the coming weeks, I’m excited to see what else they can offer on top of what I regard to be an already amazing restaurant. This will definitely be one of our go-to restaurants for special occasions!

The Richmond

The Richmond has been on my list of places to try for a long, long time. We finally popped along on Easter Sunday (yes I am very behind in blogging!) to have dinner & some drinks. The Richmond is situated in Kelvinbridge in the West End of Glasgow. It’s not one of those places that stands out as it’s at the end of Park Road, but just off the popular Gibson St area. The restaurant provides a mix of modern dishes along with some Indian influenced meals. One thing that stands out for me with their menu is the amount of offers they have. Every night Sun – Thurs, they have deals such as 2 burgers & beers for £20 or 2 steaks & a bottle of wine for £25. Not to mention that most of their cocktails are £3.50 each Sun-Thurs.

Inside, the decor is very modern, with blacks & silver being the prodominent colour scheme. We were seated to the left of the bar so had a good view of our drinks getting mixed. I opted for a margarita straight away (my fav as you may have guessed) & I have to say, these guys know how to make a good margarita. As it was Easter, they also added a wee chick as a garnish too!

Margarita

For starters, I opted for the fishcake & Al went for the bloody mary prawn cocktail. When my starter arrived, I was a bit disappointed to see just one fishcake on the plate. Usually, you are given two or three fishcakes as a starter. I quickly took that back as it was full of flavour, with the fish being very fresh. The accompanying mixed pepper salsa was also really fresh tasting & added a nice flavour to the dish. And once I had finished, it really was enough for a starter, I had underestimated how big it looked. The prawn cocktail was really nice as the bloody mary sauce gave it a nice kick. A pleasant change from the usual prawn cocktail!

Prawn CocktailFishcake

As it was a Sunday, I opted to go for the beef Sunday Roast which was really tasty. The beef was perfectly cooked, being still pink & was accompanied with roast potatoes & buttered veg. The veg was really moreish & I honestly could have went another portion. [Edit – there was a Yorkshire pudding with the roast. It was a bit dry & overdone for my tastes] The other main was The Richmong burger consisting of a lightly spiced patty, cheese, pancetta & jalapenos served with chips & onion rings. I had a bite of the burger which was really juicy & well seasoned.

Sunday RoastThe Richmond Burger

I almost ordered a dessert but after my roast, I was stuffed. We decided to stay for another drink after dinner & when we asked for the bill, we were given an Easter egg! Such a nice touch to round off a lovely dinner. The cost of the meal was surprising – we were just over £50 for 2 courses & 3 drinks each. A rarity in Glasgow these days! A definite gem in the West End & we will definitely be back!

Easter Egg

Street Food Pop-up

I first came across the concept of street food when I stayed in New York briefly a few years ago. It generally involves a restaurant, a truck & some good food in a smaller than normal portion for a reasonable price. My particular favourite was a Korean food truck that sold pork & kimchi tortillas for $6 near my apartment – they were to die for!

When I heard that Scoop Events & Smoak Food had teamed up to bring a pop-up street food restaurant, I grabbed a ticket straight away. Scoop are renown caterers within the Glasgow & central Scotland region. Smoak, on the other hand, have a guest residence within The Variety bar where they served typical American BBQ food such as Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork and anything else that can be smoked.

The event took place in SWG3, which is a warehouse near the railway line at Yorkhill. If you don’t know the area it is slightly out of the way but staying nearby, it did not take us long to find it. On arrival, there was a big sign directing us into the restaurant area & the setup was amazing! The first thing that you could see was the food trucks, one for each company, stationed at the back of the room. There were long tables for people to sit & enjoy their meal, whilst to the right there was a bar area if you wanted to hang about after your meal.

Pup-up Set up

As part of the ticket price (£5), there was a drink on arrival – beer or cocktail. As I’m not a beer fan, I went for the cocktail which was vodka, ginger beer & elderflower. I wasn’t too sure about the sound of it but it was really refreshing & came in a brown paper bag! The menus were on the table & the advice was to pick 3 dishes each out of the 8 tapas style dishes that were listed. We asked the waitress if she thought this was enough & she advised us to go for 2 each as that would be enough.

Vodka, Elderflower & Ginger Beer Cocktail           Menu

Depending upon which dish you chose, it would be cooked by either the Sccop or the Smoak team so they would come at different times. We had a 50/50 split of dishes from each team. Our Scoop dishes arrived first – Ox Cheek Tacos & Monkfish BLT. As they were tapas style dishes, the portions did not look that big but they definitely made up for it in flavour! Having never had Ox Cheek before, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the rich taste of the meat which was accompanied by a spicy sauce. I couldn’t quite place my finger on what was in it but it made the taco totally unique from any similar dish I’ve tasted before. However, as the dishes were marketed for sharing, it didn’t make sense as to why there were 3 served per portion. The monkfish blt’s were also tasty & much to our delight, instead of tomatoes, it came with a smoked tomato ketchup (we’re not fans of raw tomato). The monkfish pieces themselves were pretty small but as they were tapas, you can forgive that.

Monkfish BLT       Ox Cheek Tacos

Our Smoak dishes followed not long after the Scoop ones. From Smoak, we ordered the Smoaked Chicken & confit Sliders & the Smoaked Trout salad. The sliders were amazing! The brioche bun was really fluffy & the chicken was full of flavour. It was accompanied by a spicy bourbon sauce to dip the sliders into. I’ll be honest in that I didn’t really find any flavour from the dip but Al said he really liked it. The trout salad was Smoak’s take on a caesar salad with crispy anchovies & a creamy dressing. It was again full of flavour & I loved the anchovies as they were similar to crispy onions but only a bit saltier.

Trout Salad     Chicken Sliders

Surprisingly the dishes were really filling & I was glad we took the waitress’ advice & only ordered 4 between us. I did decide to order a dessert as they sounded too good to turn down. The choice was between a white chocolate cheesecake & a peanut butter parfait with jam sorbet. Being a peanut butter fan, I went for the parfait. It arrived in a star shaped wafer dish with a lump of sorbet on the top. The sorbet was a strong berry flavour which I was not expecting. As it only stated jam, I had got it into my head it would’ve been strawberry flavoured. However, it did go well with the sorbet, offsetting the peanut butter flavour. The parfait itself was not as strong a flavour as I would’ve liked. If you have tried Reese’s peanut butter cups, you’ll know that is a strong & distinct peanut butter flavour. That was the type of flavour I was expecting but it was more of a subtle peanut butter hint to it. Saying that, it was a really nice dessert & a good end to a lovely meal.

Peanut Butter Parfait

We decided to sit & have a drink afterwards & soak up the atmosphere. There was a DJ playing laidback funk-style tunes & with the large gas heater & candles, it was nice & toasty in the warehouse. One of the drinks that had taken my eye was the tapioca tequila. This was a shot of tequila accompanied by a shot with pineapple juice, chilli, lime & coriander. We had one each & it was really refreshing. The tequila was of such good quality it would’ve been a good post-dinner drink on its own but with the additional shot, it made for a really nice palate cleanser.

Tapioca Tequila

Overall, I really enjoyed the pop-up experience & the quality of food from both companies was top-notch! One drawback was the cost of the dishes, with each being either £6 or £7 each. That meant a bill of almost £40 for both of us for 4 dishes, a dessert & another drink each, not to mention the £5 each for the ticket to the event. Despite that, it was a good night & I hope to see other pop-up nights soon. Keep an eye out for Smoak’s food truck hitting the streets of Glasgow soon!