Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pintxos in Glasgow

You know, before I posted this article I had to double check that one, Glasgow was in fact in Scotland and two, that The Herald was not a news paper from say a Glasgow in Canada or a Glasgow in Australia. This is what they claim at their About Us page:

Welcome to The Herald Online, the website digest of Scotland's leading quality newspaper.

Based in Glasgow, Scotland (UK), and established in 1783, The Herald is one of the oldest English language daily newspapers in the world. Within its field it has long been the clear market leader.

Here you have the article that called my attention:

Pintxo, Glasgow
Barry Shelby

562 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow
0141 334 8686
Style: Compact, friendly tapas bar
Food: Spanish
Price: Tapas around £3.50-£4 each; three for £8.95 during
Pre-theatre Wheelchair access: Yes

Opening a new cafe/restaurant that emphasises Basque-style tapas could seem a bit risky. Headlines from the semi-autonomous region of northern Spain can occasionally run on a par with those from Beirut. But setting aside any associations with the politically motivated violence of separatists, the Basques have a rich culinary tradition, and restaurateur Allan Mawn has spent several years there.

So, focusing on the food of a disputed district may be no more dicey for Mawn than locating his new tapas bar in western Partick, though he should do well from the affluent Glasgow Harbour set, only a few minutes walk away.

Pintxo is recognisable from the almost unreadable branding on the black converted shop front. Inside, there is some counter seating at the street-side window and clusters of tile-topped tables in the narrow premises. It feels authentic - perhaps all the more so for forgoing any stereotypical Spanish music in lieu of Dave Brubeck jazz and Eric Clapton blues.

Basque appetisers - or pintxo (pronounced pin-cho) to use the correct term - are served for £1 at the bar. The full menu has a raft of tapas covering both sides of an A4 sheet. A recent rejig of the menu, however, appears to have dropped some of the more exclusively regional items, such as the Basque style mussels.

Attribute it to some bad luck when ordering, because that mild disappointment is compounded when some other options - such as a tuna dish or the baby padron peppers (fairly identified as "seasonal") - are not available on this particular Friday evening.

Apples are a key ingredient in the Basque Country, and Pintxo has some of the vaunted Asturian cider on the drinks menu, which also highlights fine Spanish sherries and brandies, as well as a full complement of Iberian beers and wines.

But apples pop up in recipes as well, such as the green-apple aioli that comes with the fried calamares (which, while nicely cooked, are coated in a rather under-seasoned crispy batter). A lamb stew combines meaty flavours with a sharp, acidic tomato sauce, and the Spanish black pudding - morcilla - is sweeter than the Scottish equivalent, and served with a few tiny apple wedges.

The crevettes are extremely fresh, smelling of the sea, simply grilled and served piping hot, while the dish of pearly scallops is a tad cool, though the seafood is served atop fried thin slices of chorizo sausage. You get three of both of these in the pre-theatre portion and it's the same with the chargrilled asparagus, which comes with manchego ewe's cheese and romesco sauce. It's not huge but you can taste the good quality of the produce.

Among the puddings, another no show tonight is a crema Catalana, the Catalonian creme brulee. The orange flan is a suitable substitute, however; tasty and remarkable for not being too sweet.

Although it may be pulling back from its more authentically Basque offerings, Pintxo, like the recently opened Tinto in Battlefield, is to be very much welcomed for bringing freshly prepared tapas, with seemingly well-sourced ingredients, to Glasgow, and all in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Then, why all the fuss with the "Beirut Headlines"? Why not Belfast? Is way closer to Glasgow for one thing.

So, what I gather is that Barry Shelby is no fan of Alex Salmond.

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