Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- The Sisters Restaurant, Jordanhill, Glasgow
No, The Sisters Restaurant isn't in the building shown on the right - that's the nearby Jordanhill teacher training college (part of Strathclyde University). The restaurant is located on the first floor at 1a Ashwood Gardens, a side road from the main artery of Crow Road, which leads to the Clyde Tunnel.
It's easy to spot Ashwood Gardens as that is the access to Jordanhill Station, on the commuter line into Glasgow from the west.
As its name suggests, The Sisters Restaurant is run by two sisters - Jacqueline and Pauline O'Donnell. They were formerly at "Deirfiuracha" ("the sisters" in Gaelic) in Ashton Lane, in Glasgow's West End, but outgrew that and moved to the present location in 2001. Since then, they have branched out and now have another restaurant at Kelvingrove Street, just down from Kelvingrove Park. (Same great menu but a modern décor).
Access to The Sisters at Jordanhill is past an attractive outside dining area with large umbrellas, palm trees and hanging flower baskets. Yes, the weather in the west of Scotland makes al fresco dining possible (well, sometimes). The entrance itself, after a short flight of steps, is framed by a sweeping curtain - very "Arabian Nights".
Inside, as you can see, there are a lot of warm country browns, a bit of tartan, lots of cushions and walls that are a mixture of stone and plaster lit by uplighters. The variety of styles should have produced a cacophony - but instead blended together to produce a rustic, relaxed atmosphere. At lunch time, it was bright enough for photos to be taken without flash - but in the evening there are lots of candles on the tables to provide a romantic ambience.
We were welcomed at the door by Pauline O'Donnell and throughout our meal Pauline and her team were full of help and advice. The Sisters have developed a justified a reputation not just for good food, but a warm and friendly atmosphere.
It's always a good sign when you have trouble making up your mind which of a number of items on the menu to select. My dining companion (Scottish song writer and singer Moira Kerr - just back from a tour in Canada) was having the same pleasurable problems with the menu as myself. How do you choose between buttered leek and parmesan tartlet with herb leaf salad, homemade chicken liver paté with homemade oatcakes and fruit relish or Charlie MacLeod's black pudding with bacon and red onion salad - and that's just the starters on the main menu. There was also a "Sisters' Special" for the day which included Shetland mussels in garlic cream and chardonnay or Plockton prawns (served in their shells) with garlic butter. In the end, Moira chose the homemade green bean soup (partly because that is an unusual variety of soup). She was not disappointed - pronouncing it "delicious" and enjoying also the accompanying warm home-made soda bread. That soup certainly looked substantial too. I opted for the homemade fishcakes with a lime and chive crème fraiche. The batter on the fishcakes was crisp and there was a generous amount of tasty salmon inside, which went very well with the delicate flavours of the crème fraiche.
Choosing the main course presented the same delightful difficulties of deciding what to have. There was Scotch beef fillet medallions on garlic roast tatties (potatoes) and caramelised onions and I nearly had the fillet of salmon with an oatmeal crust on herb and lemon salad. After much debate, Moira chose the Sisters seafood selection on a wild Arran leaf salad from that "Friday's Specials" menu. This turned out to be a substantial plate of sea trout, sea bream and salmon (see illustration). The fresh, grilled fish was a testament to Scottish food at its best and Moira enjoyed all three of them. The fresh, crisp salad set off the flavours perfectly - and there was also a good selection of new boiled potatoes, broccoli, carrots and mangetout in a side plate. It's always impressive when a restaurant provides piping hot vegetables which are almost "al dente" for everyone at different times!
Haggis is one of those classic Scottish foods that people either love or abhor. I have to confess that it is one of my favourites and so although that salmon looked attractive, I decided to opt instead for the chicken breast on Dornoch haggis. This proved to be a great choice as the tender chicken was perfectly complemented by an unusually light haggis. The oatmeal was a particularly fine variety and there was an absence of heavy suet which is often a major part of traditional haggis. And there was not the usual strong presence of spices, which meant that it matched the roast chicken very well. There was also a whisky, mustard and cream sauce - which I happily mopped up by the end. To accompany our meal, we had a glass of medium dry Sauvingnon Blanc by the name of "Mosaique" which proved to be a refreshing, light and fruity wine, which went very well with both the fish and the chicken.
I later did a Google search for "Dornoch Haggis" - and found a site where the author described it as the best haggis he had tasted in Scotland - and I can understand why.
Having expressed our satisfaction about the starters and main course to Pauline, she asked if we maybe wanted a wee rest before tackling a sweet course? She had clearly seen other diners flagging at this stage - after all, the portions were generous. But we were made of sterner stuff and Moira ordered the homemade chocolate cake on coffee syrup and mint chocolate ice-cream. The chocolate cake had a soft centre and, despite all those chocolate ingredients, was surprisingly light. My choice was raspberry roulade with raspberry ripple ice cream from the "Friday Specials" - and it was special too. The soft, surrounding sponge had a real melt in the mouth texture and there was a good helping of fresh raspberries in there too - see illustration.
The final pleasant surprise came with the coffee - instead of the usual accompanying mints or biscuits, there was puff candy!
Contact The Sisters Web Site for current menu and prices.
You can book a table by phone (0141 434 1179), via The Sisters Web Site (where you can see the full menu and access a location map) or by e-mail at Info@thesisters.co.uk
If I could sing, Moira and I would have been performing a duet in praise of such an excellent lunch. Like the decor, the various food elements and delicate flavours in each course at The Sisters Restaurant blended together to create a most delightful performance for themselves. This was the first time I had been for a meal at The Sisters - and I'm already working on arranging a repeat engagement!
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