Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- The Giffnock Ivy, Glasgow

The Location
Giffnock Ivy is at 219 Fenwick Road, a main artery from Glasgow to the south. Giffnock itself is in East Renfrewshire, just to the south of the Glasgow boundary. This is a relatively wealthy residential area, with most houses made of sandstone, a number of local parks and playing fields. Giffnock is home to the administrative offices of East Renfrewshire council and the Eastwood Theatre is in the area.

Located close to the Giffnock railway station, on a main bus route and with plenty of free parking close by, customers to the Giffnock Ivy are spoiled for choice as to how to get there. And of course many diners will be within walking distance!

The Restaurant

The previous Giffnock Ivy has undergone a transformation under the supervision of new owners who took a number of months to refurbish and modernise the premises. It re-opened in May 2008 and it was well worth the wait! Recognising that these days a visit to a restaurant isn't just about food, the previous rather bland décor has been updated and now certainly has the "Wow" factor. Exposed stone walls, hand carved wood panelling, walls painted in soft creams and muted browns contrasted with the rich red of the seating. A nice touch is the use of red ribbons round the table napkins - it must take the staff an age to do all that, but it is indicative of the care and attention to detail that becomes evident during the meal.

Another delightful feature is the adaptation of a small side room to provide a table and seating for up to six customers. This provides a nice, secluded area for that special family group or friends. It should also prove popular with parents with younger children too - where the little darlings can misbehave out of sight of other customers!

The Giffnock Ivy has recognised the increasing use of phones and pocket PCs and provides Wi-Fi access for diners. While replying to e-mail is not the sort of thing you would want to do during a meal (the friendly service is too efficient to allow that) it can be useful to be able to access the Internet and resolve a question via Google!

The Food

The publicity for the Giffnock Ivy said that it would "offer innovative infusions of Scottish and French cuisine with a twist." That is perhaps not surprising as head chef Ahmed Badaoui originally trained in Paris with two Michelin-Star Chef Jean Pierre Philippe. As you might expect, the ingredients are sourced locally from fresh, best quality ingredients.

There is an extensive dinner menu (more on that later) but my lunch companion and I were there for the simpler lunch-time selection (which changes frequently). It certainly offered some interesting dishes - and is also available as a pre-theatre menu in the early evening. That included Black Pudding (catering for local Glaswegian tastes there) on Bramley Apple stacks, mixed leaves and balsamic dressing (to add the French touch). On other days there could be traditional mussels marinière (from Scotland) with garlic, white wine and cream. I opted for the Smoked Duck salad with mango, sweet chilli and lemon dressing - and that proved be a great choice on a number of counts. Firstly, the artistic presentation, with fan-shaped slices of duck interleaved with the mango was a delight to the eye - and made for an attractive picture to illustrate this article. And the delicate flavours of the tender smoked duck, mango blended well and they were not overwhelmed by the right level of sweet chilli and lemon.

My lunch companion was attracted by the freshly prepared soup of the day - on this occasion Tomato and Lemon Grass Broth. This was not perhaps as photogenic as my duck and mango, but proved to be really thick and substantial, with a real taste of lemon coming through. It was soon pronounced "excellent". It is perhaps worth noting at this point that the Giffnock Ivy has an interesting choice of bread, baked on the premises. After consuming the initial slices of date and walnut or herb and onion bread, the offer of more was accepted with alacrity!

After that great starter, it was on to the main course. Choices can include oven roasted salmon with tarragon cream reduction, beef steak and Guinness pie topped with a light and flaky pastry (with pan fried potato and vegetables), classic chicken chasseur or chicken breast with thyme mash and onion gravy. I went for tagine of lamb - which I admit was a complete shot in the dark. I'm not all that keen on lamb and I didn't know what "tagine" was! I subsequently found that tagine is a type of dish found in the North African cuisines of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is named after the conical pot in which it is cooked. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation. They are used to slow-cook the ingredients at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce.

The lamb was indeed extremely melt-in-the-mouth tender and my taste buds were soon responding to the mild curry flavours. To add to the textures, there were raisins and walnuts as well, combining to make a most interesting dish. The fresh vegetables (including carrots cut into triangular shapes, rather than the more conventional slicing) were soon hard at work mopping up those delicious juices. It wasn't perhaps appropriate to ask for another slice of that date and walnut bread to help with the mopping up! Even so, I finished well satisfied, with the proverbial clean plate

My lunch companion's Black Sea Bream (tender, tasty fish with a crispy skin) was set on a bed of crushed potato with ratatouille (made with courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes, green and red peppers, aubergine, onion, and garlic) accompanied by a pool of herb beurre blancs was full of flavours and textures that my lunch companion reported blended well.

And so on to the dessert. After such excellent starters and main courses our expectations were running high. The choice was between Tiramisu, Crème Caramel or a selection of cheeses. I went for the Tiramisu, which was rich, smooth, creamy and full of coffee flavour, although it did not seem to be the conventional recipe with savoiardi. My companion's Crème Caramel was equally smooth textured but drew the comment that it "could have been a bit bigger"!

The dinner menu at Giffnock Ivy has an even wider range of dishes. Starters include such delicacies as ravioli of west coast langoustines served in a pool of rich lobster bisque and traditional French foie gras, sea salt and homemade star anise bread. Main courses look equally tasty with free range breast of Grampian chicken stuffed with haggis, glazed with a Glenmorangie whisky sauce (how Scottish can you get?) vying with pan fried sea bass served on a fresh tagliatelle & wilted box choi, with sweet red pepper sauce. And vegetarians are well catered for with, for example, baked red peppers filled with delicate asparagus and tofu risotto. The Giffnock Ivy also offers an international wine list featuring hand picked fine wines and champagnes.

The Bill
Lunch: Two course - £9.95. Three courses - £11.95.
Dinner: Starters - £3.95 to £8.95. Main Courses - £9.50 to £17.95. Desserts - £4.95 to £5.95, though there is an "Ivy Grand Dessert" at £12.95 which a platter of four desserts, ideal for sharing!

Further Information
Giffnock Ivy is located at 219 Fenwick Road, close to the Giffnock railway station. To book a table, telephone 0141 620 1003 and for more information, see the Giffnock Ivy Web site. Currently, the restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday for lunch from 12 noon to 2.30pm and for Dinner from 5pm to 10pm. On Sunday the hours are from 12.30pm to 10pm. Closed on Monday.


The Giffnock Ivy has opened in an area where there is a lot of competition from other good restaurants but its attention to detail, eye-catching, fresh food which delights the taste buds should ensure that it is a great success. Best of all, although the food and its presentation are of such a high standard, its prices give excellent value for money. If I lived in the area instead of on the other side of the city, I could easily see me becoming a regular customer - maybe they could be persuaded to open a Bearsden Ivy?

June 2008

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