Seamus MacInnes and I on the first of myself and Niall’s three visits to Cafe Gandolfi in two days. We just really liked it.
As I travel around, I find myself collecting favourite hang out spots, whether they be restaurants, cafes, bars or shops that I love. Mentally, I’m creating my perfect town which would house all of theses wonderful places.
In this town, among lots of others, there’d be a Katz’ Deli, a Walpole Cafe, a Beacon’s Closet, a Dim Sum Go Go, a Bistro Guillame, a Triple R station, a Gruel and a Mermaid Cafe, a Cake Shop, a Bernard Shaw, a Grogan’s, a Mono, and there would most certainly be a Cafe Gandolfi’s, the second place the good folk at Visit Scotland had us down to visit last weekend in Glasgow.
Cafe Gandolfi - or Gandolfini’s as I continuously and unwittingly referred to it as – has been serving the good people of Glasgow with excellent but unpretentious grub since 1979 when the founder Iain Mackenzi took over the empty offices of the Cheese Market to create a hub of deliciousness. The business has since expanded to include Bar Gandolfi upstairs at the original cafe premises as well as a fancier restaurant two doors down with Gandolfi Fish.
Upon our arrival at Cafe Gandolfi’s in need of some R&R after our morning at the World Piping Championships, we were greeted by the irrepressibly friendly and charming Seamus MacInnes, who welcomed us warmly to the business in which he started off as a kitchen hand in 1983. He worked his way through the ranks of Cafe Gandolfi through kitchen jobs and management positions until Mackenzie handed over the reins of running the business in 1995, as Seamus shared his passion for locally sourced and proudly Scottish food.
We were ushered into Gandolfi Fish and were given the lunch menu – 2 courses for £14.50 and 3 courses for £17.50 - made up of fish from Scottish seas, apart from the Whitebait, which I had to order as they were Devilled Whitebait. How delicious!
Niall went for the Smoked Mackerel Bang Bang which was smoked mackerel served on fresh vegetables and a peanut sauce. It were lush.
For the main course, Niall just had to go for the Gandolfi Fish and Chips. It was incredible. The beer batter was the softest yet crunchiest either of us have ever tasted. Beautiful stuff.
I went for the Mackerel Fillet with Tomato and Red Pepper Cous Cous with Preserved Lemon and Rosemary Butter and an Olive Tapenade. It was delicious, the fish perfectly cooked and the cous cous beautifully light and fluffy. The only reason I couldn’t finish it all was that I stole too much of Niall’s Fish and Chips. Droool!
We shared the Raspberry Bavarois for dessert and it was like Petits Filous for grown-ups. Obviously, I mean that as a compliment!
We loved the buzz so much at Gandolfi’s that we decided to come back the following day for Sunday lunch. And I had a hunch that it would be a good spot to get a Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning in Glasgow.
Bar Gandolfi upstairs from Cafe Gandolfi – bartender lady makes a mean Bloody Mary…
I wasn’t wrong. It was delicious. And the brightness of the room at Bar Gandolfi’s was great for a Sunday morning. The bar also has an extensive food menu with many options from the Cafe available in the upstairs bar. We were still full from our Friday and Saturday food fest so we stuck with coffee and Bloody Mary.
After the Bloody Mary we went for a walk around Merchant City checking out the nearby and wonderful Mono and 13th Note, to build up a sufficient appetite for lunch. In reality, we really didn’t need lunch but that’s how badly we wanted to check out Cafe Gandolfi! Oh, we’re such troopers
Cafe Gandolfi on Albion Street
As you can see the interior of Cafe Gandolfi boasts the beautifully crafted furniture from the Tim Stead Workshop, with light flooding in from the huge windows looking out onto Albion Street.
We got the refreshing Kir Royal and Sapphire Collins (a Gin based cocktail) to kick start our Sunday lunch.
I went for the “Light Meal” of Arbroath Smokies (£6.90). These were incredible and possibly the most enjoyable thing I ate all weekend in Glasgow. It’s basically smoked fish baked in a tomato and basil sauce, which I will be recreating at home thanks to the gift of the Cafe Gandolfi Cookbook Seamus gave us on our first visit.
Niall went for the outrageously enormous New York Pastrami (£10.70) which was devilishly delicious.
Because we are gluttons with an aim to punish our waistlines, we ordered dessert. Niall had the near coma-inducing Caramel Shortcake Square (£2.00).
I went for the Bakewell Tart (£3.75) which came with the recommendation of an Elderflower Dessert Wine from England, a recommendation that I just couldn’t decline
Hello Mrs Bakewell, you truly are a thing of beauty!
All in all, we adored the place.
Have a look at the Fish/Cafe/Bar Gandolfi website for details of all parts of this delightful empire, and have a closer look here at the delicious Cafe Gandolfi menu. And please do visit it next time you’re in Glasgow. Lovely stuff.
64 Albion Street
Glasgow G1 1NY
0141 552 6813
Buy the Cafe Gandolfi Cookbook over here. And make the Arbroath Smokies. Nom.