Turning 21 meant I could choose somewhere a little more upmarket for my birthday meal this year, and so I used the opportunity to visit a restaurant which has been on my list for some time – The Gannet. Located in the now very chic area of Finnieston, since opening in 2013 The Gannet have won a number of food and drink awards making them a bit of a destination restaurant. The restaurant is compact and so I would advise booking in advance to ensure you’re not left disappointed.
You’re made to feel very special at The Gannet – after our orders were taken we were served a small amuse-bouche of Salt Baked Celeriac Espuma (foam to you and me!) topped with Grated Chestnut and accompanied by Fresh Bread. Well, who knew foam could taste so good? The melt-in-the-mouth espuma had a gorgeous, delicate flavour and the accompanying bread was some of the best I’ve had. Soft, pillowy fresh bread with a crunchy crust. Yum! By this point in the evening I was pretty sure everything to come was going to be fabulous – and I wasn’t disappointed!
It was no easy thing to decide on our orders – while the menu is relatively small it boasts great quality ingredients and fabulous sounding combinations. I plumped for the infamous Stornoway Black Pudding Scotch Duck Egg from the specials board – a comparatively cheap dish that gave a lot of bang for our buck. The large duck egg was cooked to perfection, with the yolk seconds away from still being liquid. The black pudding wasn’t the spiciest (I usually find this with Stornoway) but for once I felt this was a good thing. The savoury, peppery flavours of the black pudding were just enough to compliment the egg without over-powering it. The whole thing was coated in crispy breadcrumbs, and pulled together by the stunning chunky, remoulade-like sauce that adorned the plate. A fairly hefty dish, it’s definitely good value as it is also the cheapest starter on the menu.
Mum and dad both decided to try something new, choosing the Perthshire Partridge Breast, Confit Leg, Caramelised Onion and Quail’s Egg. A considerably smaller portion than mine, this dish was, aesthetically, extremely appealing. Fortunately, it also tasted delicious. The partridge was tender, lean, and perfectly cooked without any hint of chewiness. I also have to mention the impeccable standard to which the quail’s egg was cooked – the dainty little egg was perfectly shaped with a shiny yolk.
You’re left to rest for quite a long period between courses at The Gannet. While mum and dad may have found this a little long it was perfect for me having demolished that heavier starter. The mains, however, were totally worth the wait. Upon choosing the mains I had had something of a dilemma, until we were told that the kitchen had run out of the Red Deer. Slightly disappointing, perhaps, but probably just as well or I might have been there all night trying to choose! Also, kudos to the kitchen who rectified this by offering the same garnishes from the Red Deer dish served with Mallard – quick thinking allowing patrons to still enjoy as full a menu as possible, as well as proving that the ingredients being used are fresh and in season.
However – on to what we did actually eat! Dad and I had chosen the Slow Cooked Borders Lamb, Shoulder Cannelloni, Butternut Squash, Kale and Cumin Sauce, and I think the only word that really does it justice is WOW! The lamb was a glorious shade of pink, as it should be, and just melted in the mouth. The beautiful, meaty flavour was extremely evident, especially in the little sliver of lamb fat at the side of the plate. The butternut squash came in the form of a puree – smooth, silky and sweet it provided an outstanding contrast to the tender, meaty lamb and crispy kale. The star of the dish, in my opinion, was the cannelloni. The thinnest pasta I’ve ever seen encased shreds of the gorgeous lamb shoulder – all the flavours you could ask for bursting out of this tiny morsel of food.
Across the table, mum also thoroughly enjoyed her choice of Peterhead Landed Monkfish, Garlic Potato Puree, Seared Leeks, Parsley Root, Crisp Salsify and Five Spice Sauce. The potato puree was the same consistency as that silky smooth butternut squash, with just a subtle hint of garlic which didn’t fight with the chunky monkfish. I took the general silence from across the table to be a very good sign indeed.
One of the nicest things about the smaller portions served at restaurants like this is the ability to have three courses without feeling like you’ve completely stuffed yourself. On this note, we set about perusing the dessert menu. Dad made his selection (the Farmhouse Cheeses from George Mewes) immediately, whilst mum and I had a little more difficulty. Mum still managed to choose the Christmas Crumble Tart with Spiced Ice Cream before I made my decision though; I, in fact, still wasn’t quite sure what I was going to say when the waiter came to take our order. I even managed to surprise myself a little, ordering the Milk Chocolate Feuilletine, Chocolate Orange Wafer and Orange and Whisky Ice Cream. I didn’t regret my choice though as the dessert was rich and decadent featuring superbly balanced flavours. The thick, ganache-style chocolate was smooth and rich, contrasted by the strong nutty flavour of the crispy feuilletine. The ice cream was also incredibly impressive – a strong hit of orange with just the slightest alcoholic aftertaste wowed us all. Equally impressive was the ice cream on mum’s dish – the Christmassy spices packed a real punch which made for delicious ice cream. The actual tart, she said, was like a gourmet mince pie – find me someone who doesn’t like the sound of that! Dad’s four cheeses were explained to him upon serving (a lovely touch) and were served with slices of apple and some fruit and nut filled crackers. The crackers were, in fact, a huge hit with dad who raved about them the entire time he was eating them. His only slight quibble was that he would have liked some butter to spread on them – although I’m confident that if he had asked for it would have been brought without any issue.
Stunning food cooked perfectly and plated with skill and an eye for detail. Service which was unobtrusive and polite. Surroundings which were simply decorated and not too noisy. If there were any issues at The Gannet I certainly didn’t find them. Definitely a restaurant built for special occasions (no, it’s not cheap but it’s great quality), The Gannet impressed with every passing minute. I’d like to say I’ll be back, but I might have to save up for that one!