Celtic Connections and The Cail Bruich Tasting Menu

Every January for the last few years we have been making a pilgrimage to the Celtic Connections winter music festival in Glasgow to enjoy some of Scotland’s finest musicians.  It’s also a good chance to try out a few of Glasgow’s equally fine eating establishments and so this time, we booked Cail Bruich for dinner.  They have built up an impressive reputation over the last couple of years and also quite a few awards including a 3 AA Rosette award, so we were looking forward to sampling chef and co-owner Chris Charalambous’s menu.  We also had the added bonus of getting a birds-eye view of the kitchen at the chef’s table.

An excellent view from the chef's table
An excellent view from the chef’s table

We received a warm welcome on arrival and were shown to our perch where co-owner Paul served some crispy bites with a deliciously salty olive tapenade and we perused the drinks menu.  It was a very busy night’s service, and the compact kitchen had seven members of staff at full tilt.  It’s a sight to behold, and the organisation, team work and level of precision involved in crafting each dish is impressive.  With the pulling back of the curtain, everything is laid bare, and we felt lucky to be able to see it for ourselves.

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Cocktails anyone?

We ordered a couple of cocktails to start with and I went with a Wild Violette Sour (£9) which was smooth, seductive and very drinkable.  Donnie was in love with his Whisky Mist (£9), a ruby coloured sweet and sour combination of Monkey Shoulder, Cherry Marnier and Cocchi Torino garnished with slivers of golden beetroot.  Both cocktails were expertly made, had bags of personality and were a great start to the evening.

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The menu has an à la carte choice but we couldn’t resist the dazzling array of appetisers and dishes that featured on the £55 tasting menu.  There is a vegetarian (£45) and pescatarian (£55) option too and chef is quite happy to substitute any dishes if you have any allergies.  You can also add five matched wines for £35.  We decided to go for a bottle white and then go with the flow once that was finished. Our  sommelier steered us towards the versatile and refreshing South African Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc (£33) to start with.

Cail Bruich Tasting Menu Snacks

Selection of Snacks from Tasting Menu
Selection of Snacks from Tasting Menu

First up from the tasting menu was a selection of snacks to get our taste buds ready for the main event.  The buckwheat cannoli were deliciously light with a good crunch and filled with smoked salmon, crowdie then dipped in hazelnuts.  The potato bread blinis were served charred which overpowered the flavour of the smoked cheese and onion although it did remind me of my mum’s skirlie stuck to the bottom of the frying pan.  The beef fat doughnuts were outstanding – puffy buns filled with fermented cabbage and savoury shredded ox tongue that were light as a feather and unbelievably moreish.

The main event – another 7 courses on the Cail Bruich Tasting Menu

plate with Salmon, Smoked Cod Roe, Celery, Apple and Lemon with Black Radish
Salmon, Smoked Cod Roe, Celery, Apple and Lemon with Black Radish

After our snacks, we had our starter of salmon which came with slices of apple and celery that made the dish refreshing with the slivers of black radish giving a bit of added heat to the dish.  Our zesty chenin blanc turned out to be a great suggestion and went really well with the salmon and also with the next couple of dishes.

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Mushroom Ravioli, Celeriac, Parsley, Truffle

Our next course consisted of a parcel of ravioli filled with mushrooms on a bed of celeriac bound in a pungent parsley puree.  The dish was simple and the ingredients spoke for themselves, enhanced by the finely sliced raw mushrooms and shavings of intense Pèrigord truffle.

Plate Showing Skate Wing, Langoustine, Mushroom, Sea Kale
Skate Wing, Langoustine, Mushroom, Sea Kale

Our fish course was also a simple affair of skate wing and langoustine served with freshly foraged scarlet elf cup mushrooms.  The dish looked striking with the red caps and a swathe of bright green sea kale and is about as seasonal a dish you will find anywhere.

Plate showing Aged Dairy Cow, Carrot, Hay Smoked Potato, Beer Mustard
Cail Bruich Tasting Menu – Aged Dairy Cow, Carrot, Hay Smoked Potato, Beer Mustard

Our next dish was like a farmyard on a plate with aged dairy cow and hay smoked potatoes, a chunk of carrot and caramelised spring onions.  We’ve not seen dairy cow on the menu before and the thought of an old, knackered dairy coo wasn’t the most appealing.  The idea is that after a few years milk production, Daisy is sent out to pasture for a couple of years to fatten up and this results in beef with lots of creamy marbled fat and stacks of flavour.  The beef did require some extra jaw work but was very rich and flavoursome helped by the delicious bone marrow gravy and smoky mash.  The Mount Langi Girhan Cliff Edge Shiraz (£8) we enjoyed with this dish was another good recommendation from the sommelier – it’s warm and peppery flavour working well with the beef.

Room for cheese and dessert?

An extra course of George Mews cheese is available for £6 per person supplement but we had our eye on the desserts and wanted to leave plenty space for them.

2 pictures showing Pre Dessert of Caramelised Creme Fraiche, Honeycomb, Ginger Beer followed by Pear Tatin, Walnut, Vanilla
Pre Dessert of Caramelised Creme Fraiche, Honeycomb, Ginger Beer followed by Pear Tatin, Walnut, Vanilla

Desserts began with a pre-dessert of golden honeycomb chunks covered in a frothy ginger beer crème fraîche.  The combination of creaminess, sweet crunch and heat from the ginger exploded on the tongue and made for a delicious sweet treat.  This was followed by a classic pear tatin topped with caramelised walnuts and served with a simple vanilla ice cream.  It was a perfect comfort food dessert for a cold January evening in Glasgow.  We had a glass of Jurançon Moelleux Domaine de Montesquiou (£7) to accompany dessert which was intensely sweet and chilled to perfection.

 

Plate of chocolate nibs with Jerusalem Artichoke Fiance and Valhrona Chocolate Truffle on the top
Jerusalem Artichoke Fiance and Valhrona Chocolate Truffle

The meal ended with another final surprise – a finger of artichoke sponge and an indulgent rich, dark chocolate truffle.

Cail Bruich were recently listed in the Sunday Time top 100 UK restaurants and after our tasting menu experience, we can see why.  The restaurant is a welcoming space and service is relaxed and unhurried.  This means that you have time to appreciate the care, attention to detail and skill of the talented kitchen team.  The Cail Bruich Tasting Menu changes frequently depending on the season and what has been foraged that week so it’s definitely a restaurant that you can return to again and again enjoying some exciting food from one of Scotland’s top kitchens.

How do I book the Cail Bruich Tasting Menu?

Cail Bruich
725 Great Western Road
Glasgow
G12 8QX

Tel: 0141 334 6265

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