The Glasgow Food Blog has been a bit quiet recently. Not for lack of the love of food, but general life chaos. Life has been so chaotic in fact, that the two meals we’ve had out recently are lacking photos so apologies in advance.
We ate at Number 16 Restaurant last Sunday, and La Bonne Auberge last night.
Number 16 Restaurant have a two course pre theatre for £11.95, or three courses for £13.95 including a glass of wine. We arrived and were allowed to pick our table – we choose the upper mezzanine which is small but very pleasant. I had the slow braised pigs cheek with oriental sauerkraut, pickled vegetables and chilli caramel, whereas Graeme had the roast merguez sausage with herb and parmesan polenta and a warm gazpacho dressing. Two really amazing entrées that we both enjoyed thoroughly - the pigs cheek really did melt in your mouth in a delicious, tender way, and the sausages packed a lot of flavour for something so small.
For main, I had the roast chicken breast with root vegetables, black kale and red wine sauce. Graeme had the slow braised pork belly with stir fry spring greens, snow pea, bean sprout and peanut salad, Asian mint, soy and mirin broth. My chicken was perfection! Rich, delicious and the red wine sauce gave it a real punch and depth of flavour that really offset the creamy, tender chicken. Graeme’s dish was also a huge success, with all of the different elements mixing together perfectly. Lots of restaurants are cooking with pork belly at the moment, and this was amongst the best dishes we have tried. Highly, highly recommended.
We shared a dessert; a chocolate tart with mint ice-cream. This was probably a mistake, as it was so good we wanted one each! The tart had the right balance of chocolate without being too rich or heavy, and the mint ice cream was fantastic.
What I loved about Number 16 Restaurant was the standard of food and service. Restaurants seem to sometimes take the easy approach to pre theatre menus and use it as an excuse to serve their substandard cooking while the good stuff is saved for the more expensive a la carte menu. To me, the mark of an excellent restaurant is its ability to serve amazing food on a pre theatre which will make you want to go back for the a la carte. Our experience at Number 16 Restaurant left us full, contented and excited to return for another amazing meal.
La Bonne Auberge have a two course pre/prix theatre deal for £14.95 including a glass of wine. Keep in mind that they add a 12.5% surcharge to the bill automatically, so this bumps up the price to £16.80. Of course you could ask for that to be taken off, but I’m guessing that few would actually do so. I don’t understand why restaurants do this as it really leaves a bad taste in the mouths of diners right at the end of the meal – even if the meal was of a high standard, I’m still not sure I’d leave impressed where a restaurant does this.
To the meal. I had an entrée of rich chicken liver pate, Graeme had the special lamb roulade. While I love pate, there was nothing special about this pate and it was served with two small pieces of bread. The roulade was good, and was presented well; it was also good to see that there wasn’t a supplement applied for the special. For the main, I had grilled chicken breast with Gruyère cheese mash, spring onion and piri piri dressing. This dish was a bit disappointing. While there was nothing stand-out wrong with it, it was really just a basic chicken breast and the sauce was a tad too sweet. The highlight was definitely the mash, but I always love a cheesy mash. Graeme had smoked paprika and garlic pork loin with white bean and tomato cassoulet, coriander and mint dressing. Again, this was a solid if not spectacular dish – the pork was nice and tender and well seasoned, and the cassoulet textured without being mushy, but the coriander and mint dressing was perhaps a little superfluous. The waiter helpfully let us know that this dish didn’t come with any sides, so we ordered some mash, which was also good, and was a great way to soak up the remainders of the cassoulet.
The atmosphere at La Bonne Auberge was pleasant, it was relatively busy for a Sunday night but not heaving. Service was friendly and attentive at the start, however towards the end of the night we were completely abandoned by the staff (who were chatting at the front of the restaurant), we weren’t offered more drinks, we struggled to get the bill, and then to get someone to process the bill. This makes paying a 12.5% service charge even more frustrating in my opinion.
To me, there is a massive contrast between the two restaurants and the two pre theatre deals. Number 16 Restaurant ticked a lot of boxes for me, and I would be delighted to return. Sadly, in the shadow of such a great restaurant, La Bonne Auberge didn’t live up to expectations and seemed overpriced in comparison.
Both these meals were booked via www.5pm.co.uk - a highly recommended site for great dinner deals in the UK.