On Thursday night I was lucky enough to join a small group of fellow bloggers for a preview evening at new East End bar and restaurant A’Challtainn. The restaurant is situated within the Barras Art and Design (BAaD) centre in Calton (the word A’Challtainn itself is the Gaelic from which Calton is derived), a new venture by the creators of previous pop-ups Fish Plaice and Heverlee at Tontine Lane. The multi-purpose venue has been designed with the vision and aim of creating a Food Quarter set within the Barras Market.
Arriving at the venue, it is understandably hard to envisage how an upmarket institution will work in the surroundings of the Barras – units are shut up and the whole area needs more than a little TLC. Step inside BAaD, however, and you could be in a chic restaurant in Finnieston or the Merchant City. Still undergoing work when we arrived, it was clear that a lot of thought had been put into the design of the venue – no doubt helped by the six-figure investment that has been put into it.
We were shown upstairs to the bar area and served cocktails by the friendly staff – and what a cocktail it was! Named the A’Challtainn, whisky, port and green tea had been mixed with charred lemon and mint to create a fresh and not-overly-sweet cocktail. The big question, therefore, is why it doesn’t appear to be on the sample drinks menu for the restaurants public opening. With such a delicious, drinkable and moreish invention, I’d have thought you’d want to continue serving it every night, and not just on special occasions.
We were then treated to a little oyster shucking master class – it’s not at easy as it looks you know! These freshly shucked oysters were then brought to our tables to try, alongside more of that delicious cocktail. Sadly, no other food was available to try (I have a sneaking suspicion that the kitchen wasn’t quite ready for cooking in) and so I really can’t comment on the quality of the food. The sample menu we were given has some interesting dishes- mostly fish with a few meat and vegetarian options thrown in. It’s a bit of a shame that we were unable to sample these dishes – as you know, it’s all about the food with me!
The night hit a bit of a bump when one waiter told us there were no toilets (another aspect that wasn’t quite finished) although we were able to use what appeared to be the workmen’s toilet before we left. It is perhaps rather unsurprising, therefore, that the restaurant has since pushed their opening back almost a week – they now open to the public at noon on Friday the 28th of October.
Whilst I can’t make any comment about food, I will say that the staff were all very friendly and that the venue itself should make for very pleasant surroundings in which to enjoy a meal. How well the venture will work in a rather dilapidated area of the city – well, we’ll just have to wait and see.