Glasgow food scene: Scotland's best city to scoff

"Ahn thart's yoo," says Danny Murphy, the proprietor of the Pot Still. After spending a week in Glasgow, I soon learn that this expression can be applied to a multitude of scenarios. In this case, it's when general manager Danny Murphy plonks down a haggis pie in front of me.

"It dinnae get more Scottish than this wee pie," he says. While the pub is on the map for having one of the finest collections of malt whisky in Scotland, Murphy says the homemade haggis, black pudding and square sausage pie also deserves a bit of a "fash" (fuss).

When I visit the Pot Still, it is full of everyone from tourists to "old-timers" drawn in for a wee dram. When I ask Murphy if he plays up his Gaelic heritage for visitors, he laughs. "Ah'm a Scot wearing a kilt with a ginger beard and ah'm working in a whisky bar. I dinnae need to play oop ma heritage," says Murphy.

Just a five-minute walk up West George Street and I find myself again enjoying haggis, albeit a more high-end version in the form of bonbons while dining at Martin Wishart's acclaimed The Honours in the basement of the Greek Orthodox Church that is now the Malmaison hotel (malmaison.com).

Apart from the wow factor of the glittering dome ceiling, dimly lit space, and sumptuous leather banquettes, this is the place to enjoy French fare with a strong Scottish accent. Do order the ox cheeks – cooked for up to 10 hours with lardons, mushrooms and onion in a bone marrow and red wine sauce – followed by the signature sundae to seal the deal.

Also within walking distance of my room at the Malmaison is Smile Cafe (121 Douglas Street, Glasgow) where I enjoy a chance encounter with Emma Sweeney, a 31-year-old tattoo artist who lives in Strathbungo, one of the city's many up and coming areas. The cafe is run by two lads from southern Italy and, as well as earning cred for its coffee, is a popular place for a panini.

Sweeney could well be the poster girl for the #PeopleMakeGlasgow (peoplemakeglasgow.com.au) campaign, an online initiative that curates an ever-evolving range of itineraries designed to showcase the rambling city on Scotland's west coast.

The tourism site seems to be plugged into the same zeitgeist as Sweeney who waxes enthusiastic about many of the places listed under its Food and Drink category. I do as Sweeney suggests and "run doon the rood" to Babu Bombay Street Kitchen (babu-kitchen.com), which is a great example of the city with the working class roots continuing to reinvent itself as a culinary hot spot and city of cultural diversity. Bombay-born Rachna Dheer started out with a stall at Glasgow Farmers' Market (citypropertymarkets.co.uk) five years ago before catapulting to the city centre where she sells signature street food dishes such as the pau bhaji a toasted Morton roll and her nourishing dahl of the day. Given its tag as Britain's unofficial curry capital, no guide to eating and drinking around Glasgow would have cred without a nod to born-and-bred Glaswegian Monir Mohammed, founder of the Mother India chain (motherindiaglasgow.co.uk). Mother India, located across town in the West End, is an informal tapas-style restaurant that offers lighter portions of Indian treats such as chilli garlic chicken, chana poori (chickpeas served on pastry) and fish pakora.

"The idea behind Indian tapas is to give people the opportunity to try as many different flavours as possible," says Mohammed. The roll call of the rich and infamous that have dined here  since its establishment 15 years ago includes comedian Billy Connolly, actors Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlisle and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

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Cafe Gandolfi (cafegandolfi.com) has also played a starring role in serving seasonal Scottish produce since it opened in 1979 in the former offices of the local cheese market in the old Merchant City. Have a stoush with your dining companion over smoked haddie, peat-smoked salmon or Cullen skink (a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions).

While Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery (twofatladiesrestaurant.com/buttery) is another not-so-hidden gem, it deserves the attention it receives for its dedication to serving real-deal Glaswegian fare such as west coast scallops, Stornoway black pudding and smoked haddock cream.

Although it's a tourist magnet, the Ubiquitous Chip (ubiquitouschip.co.uk) also attracts Glasgow's socially minded set and exemplifies the city's cultural crossover of politics, fashion, art and food. Writer and artist Alasdair Gray lives nearby and many of his murals adorn the walls at the family pub owned by the Clydesdale family since 1971. Hello@oxandfinch.com

Joining me at the Ubiquitous Chip is one of the organisers of the second annual Let's Eat Glasgow festival (letseatglasgow.co.uk), Ilya Scott, who says the Clydesdale family have been pioneers of the city's renaissance as a dining destination for almost two decades.

"The Clydesdale family deserve recognition for being at the forefront of the growing food revival happening in Glasgow and recognition for proudly celebrating local West of Scotland produce, such as oysters, smoked fish, meat, game and vegetables," she says.

Further evidence that Glasgow's food scene is on the rise can be found at the Ox & Finch (oxandfinch.com), which was presented with the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland prestigious Bib Gourmand award for 2015. The contemporary light-filled space serves seasonal dishes such as tartare of roe deer, game sausage, confit duck, Thai yellow curry and crispy rice.

Beer geeks should wet their whistle at Drygate (drygate.com) where a bearded brewer will talk you through your tasting paddle and give you a tour of the facilities, which are part-gallery, part-tasting hall. Complete your mood at the East End brewery with beer-infused grub such as Bearface Lager fish and chips or a Drygate beef burger with jerk ox cheek.

For another scene entirely, head to the recently refurbished Club Dining Room (theclubrestaurant.co.uk), which overlooks Royal Exchange Square from its elevated position in the Western Club. You might want to wear your rooty-ma-toot (suit) to this old-money sanctum, which is anchored by a menu of solid seasonal dishes, such as the seafood mixed grill, triple cooked chips, crispy kale and salsa verde.

The commitment to local and seasonal is also evident at Cail Bruich (cailbruich.co.uk), which means "eat well" in Gaelic and hums along nicely thanks to the theatre crowds who describe the trad Glaswegian fare created with French technique as gallus (excellent).

It's fitting that my five-day tour of Glasgow's food and wine scene finishes up at the Battlefield Rest (battlefieldrest.co.uk), which sits in the middle of a Mount Florida traffic island in what was once a resting place for tram travellers. The continental bistro stops traffic for its rustic fare such as spaghetti al ragu and whitebait fritti. Owner Marco Giannasi hosts Plan Bee (planbeeltd.com) hives on his restaurant roof and his chefs include the premium-grade honey on the menu. Finally, if you're "not fur gaun home" yet, line up at the Rum Shack in Strathbungo and enjoy a few Mick Jaggers (lagers). Ahn thart's not quite yoo, Glasgow. But it's a start.

TRIP NOTES

MORE INFORMATION

Peoplemakeglasgow.com.

GETTING THERE

There are no airlines that fly direct to Glasgow. The major airlines that fly to Glasgow from Australia are Qantas, Emirates & British Airways. Qantas flies daily to London from Sydney and Melbourne via Dubai with onward connections to the rest of Europe with oneworld partner Emirates. Economy fares to Europe now start at $1543.

STAYING THERE

Dakota (179 West Regent Street), Glasgow's newest designer boutique hotel, is divine. The five-star hotel has a dedicated champagne bar and is a 10-minute walk to art galleries, museums and restaurants. Rooms from £213 a night. See glasgow.dakotahotels.co.uk. For something a bit more affordable, try APEX Glasgow (110 Bath Street, Glasgow), which is within walking distance of George Square and the Gallery of Modern Art. Rates from £106 a night. See apexhotels.co.uk/glasgow-hotel. Malmaison Glasgow (278 West George Street) is a comfortable, contemporary base in the heart of the newly glammed-up Glasgow. The hotel, which was a Greek Orthodox church in a former life, is just a 10-minute walk from the city centre and is a top spot from which to explore the city. Rates from £85 a night.

Carla Grossetti travelled as a guest of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau with the assistance of Qantas.

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