Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- India Quay, Finnieston St, Glasgow
Finnieston, on the banks of the river Clyde, is well known on Glasgow for the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and the Finnieston Crane (hard to miss at 200 feet high). Much of the area is being redeveloped and the latest addition is the Finnieston Bridge (known locally as the "Squinty Bridge" as it crosses the river diagonally to reach the BBC Scotland HQ and the Glasgow Science Centre at Pacific Quay).
Not far down river from Finnieston is the huge Glasgow Harbour development on 130 acres of derelict Clyde waterfront, creating a high-quality, mixed-used development with commercial, residential, retail and leisure facilities in one integrated location. The new Glasgow Transport Museum building will also be on the waterfront.
India Quay restaurant is right on the doorstep of all these attractions, below a new block of apartments at the entrance to the Finnieston Bridge. The curving, corner site gives diners great views of the attractive new bridge and the passing traffic through large, picture windows. Inside it is bright and airy. Some Indian restaurants have a decor suitable for a wealthy prince. Indian Quay has instead gone for a cool black and white - with extremely comfortable seats.
In addition to the extensive downstairs area, there is also a smaller mezzanine floor. With a judicious use of glass balustrades, it is light and airy too. When there is a major event on at the nearby Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, all those tables are no doubt required. Equally, when it is quiet, the layout means that customers don't feel isolated.
India Quay opened towards the end of 2005, so it is still establishing itself. But when a group of top chefs (in town to judge the Scottish Food Scholarship final) ate there, they reported that they thoroughly enjoyed their meal - and they should know.
Staff are friendly and attentive and service is efficient too. They are also knowledgeable - their recommendation of Lussee (a cooling yoghurt shake sweetened and enriched with a crushed pedha which originated in the Punjab) as an aperitif was ideal for someone like me with a sweet tooth!
Another touch which appealed to me was the design of the cutlery - at first sight it looked as though the knives were all balancing on their blades - closer inspection showed that the handles were at right angles, allowing them to be displayed in that eye-catching fashion!
Glasgow has had a long-term love affair with food from the Indian sub-continent which goes back for decades. These days, Glasgow's restaurants compete with those in other cities for the accolade of "Curry Capital of Britain" and they have won the title three times in the last six years. In 2005, when the city regained the crown, the organisers of the competition, which is based on a public vote, described the Glasgow submission as "just exceptional". So India Quay has a lot of competition and a high standard to maintain - and does so handsomely.
First of all, there is an extensive menu of starters and main courses - all with good descriptions of what they are. For Starters, there are the usual Vegetable Samosa and Pakoras, as well as Chicken Tikka Shaslik (stir fried with fresh capiscums, onions and mushrooms and served with mint yogurt sauce and mixed leaf salad) or Dosa and Poori (a choice of crèpe-style lentil pancake or a light pan fried chapatti, stuffed with a sweet and sour chasni sauce or a garlic sauce, which is available with chicken, prawn, mushrooms or king prawns. Or how about a platter for two with a medley of chicken, vegetable and mushroom pakoras, onion bhaji rings samosa and spicy chicken chaat, all served with garlic mushrooms, chick peas and a yogurt sauce?
Main courses include the ever-popular Chicken Korma and Chicken Tikka Masala but there is also Chicken Tikka Chasni (with a rich creamy sauce with a twist of sweet and sour) or South Indian Garlic Chicken (barbecued chicken pieces in a garlic and chilli sauce with fresh coriander and a touch of crispy red chilli. Then there is Chicken Tikka Sharabi (a garlic and tomato based dish cooked with mushrooms, onions, fresh coriander - and a generous measure of the finest brandy! All the chicken dishes are also available with lamb, prawns or king prawns.
Although I am not a vegetarian, it was good to see that there was a wide selection of eight items suitable for them, instead of what is often just a gesture of one or two.
So, what to have? As a starter, I opted for the Mushroom Pakora. The generous portion of fresh mushrooms came in a crisp, very light batter, with a delicious, spicy dip and a fresh leaf salad. At first, I thought the sauce was quite mild, but gradually the taste was building up on my tongue in a most satisfactory manner!
For my main course, I ordered a Chicken Bhoona, with a dry ginger, garlic and tomato sauce. When the menu had described the chicken breast as "succulent" I had thought this was just a bit of good presentation, but indeed the meat proved to be nicely melt in the mouth - I was cutting it with a fork, leaving that knife balanced on its blade! Again the sauce was just the right balance, with the ginger building up nicely on my taste buds. As you can see from the illustration further up the page, there was a nicely presented mound of Pilau rice to go with it.
The waiter had also suggested a side plate of Cheese, Chilli and Coriander Naan Bread. The Pizza-size portion was more than enough for two and came straight from the kitchen, hot and crispy - and the mix of ingredients went very well with my Chicken Bhoona.
See www.indiaquay.com for current menu and prices.
The restaurant has its own India Quay Web site,and reservations can be made by phoning 0141 221 1616 - or just drop in at 181 Finnieston St, Glasgow G3 8HE.
It's always good to go for a review meal and come away feeling that you want to go back again - and that's the satisfying conclusion from my visit to India Quay. Perhaps the menu is not adventurous and goes for the well tried and tested varieties of Indian food. But it does it well, giving the taste buds a good exercising in a relaxed atmosphere. And the two-course business lunch is particularly good value for money.
It was good to see that in 2009 India Quay took third place in the UK wide vote by readers of the restaurant website toptable.co.uk in the best-rated category.
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