Glasgow’s Central Restaurants – The old and the new

by Katie on July 27, 2011

As the song goes, “I belong to Glasgow…” and like any Glaswegian I am dutifully proud of the city, its history, its art and culture, its people, its friendliness and its nightlife.

However, as a city, it has not been noted for its high class Michelin star restaurants which seem more prevalent in our frenemy Capital, Edinburgh.  Saying that, there’s an abundance of choice in Glasgow but I tend to stick to either the central or West End areas of the city when going out to eat or drink.  And Glaswegians, a little like peacocks, love shopping (it is one of Britain’s most esteemed shopping destinations) and then going out to parade their style in the multitudes of bars, restaurants and clubs all over the city.

Glasgow’s city centre has been totally transformed and is positively Mediterranean on a sunny day with outside eating areas in all the restaurants and bars in Royal Exchange Square where the Glasgow Museum of Modern Arts is situated and a must see for any visitor to the city.

I always head for The Rogano restaurant (11 Exchange Place, G1) which is as elegant and stylish since the day it opened over 75 years ago.  The Rogano is a Glasgow institution and a mecca for all rarefied Glaswegians and, it appears, celebrity visitors to the city.  Built at the same time as (and some say modelled on) the Queen Mary cruise liner, it holds a special place in Glaswegian hearts at it harks back to our great ship building and Art Deco heritage.  

Like a super stylish magnet, this place draws you back again and again to try the oysters, lobster and largely fish themed menu whether to eat in the restaurant or shoot the breeze at the bar or in the stylish 1930’s bar booths.  The restaurant epitomises art deco and fine taste.  Though there have been better days in its long past (the restaurant has changed hands a number of times), the service is good but not as friendly or as casually attentive as it used to be and that’s a shame.  Still, it’s a ‘should go there’ as you won’t see many establishments like this in the world and what can be finer than sipping house champagne at a glorious bar that’s like stepping into the past?

The new kid on the block that is gaining massive support and popularity in Glasgow, often with long queues is Jamie’s Italian at 1 George Square, Glasgow, right slap bang in the centre of the  city.  Since it opened a year ago, this restaurant has been constantly packed partially due to the fabulous food, the great layout, the buzzy atmosphere and the fair prices. Speaking to the manager, he informed us that this branch of Jamie Oliver’s empire is often near the top in terms of takings.   On the Thursday night that I visited, the restaurant, the place was upbeat, friendly and the perfect place for catching up with friends.  The manager confirmed that it was indeed a popular place for groups of 6-8 friends to get together before going out on the town due to its food,  atmosphere and location.

My friend and I had a sumptuous meat antipasti with salami, mortadella, prosciutto and schiacciata piccante, pickles, cheese (mozzarella and pecorino) and crunchy salad.  We also shared a selection of Italian bread as well as some funky chips and a rocket and radicchio salad. we were recommended a lovely clean Soave to match the meal.  

The menu at Jamie’s Italian used the best in produce and uses locally sourced items when possible, a real strength of Jamie’s.  This is like transporting a popular top London eaterie to the centre of Glasgow and loses none of the original charm and appeal but swooshes it up a notch by managing to capture the local ebullience.

Glasgow may have changed since I left but it’s only for the better.

Let me know if you have visited either of the two Glasgow restaurants mentioned and whether you have visited the city in the comment box below.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 8:54 am

Wow! Love this article – more on shopping in Glasgow please! Alex x


Duck July 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

We always go to The Rogano for a glass of champagne or prosecco before going out for dinner, but since most of my family is vegetarian we basically can’t eat anything there!

My mother dragged me to Jamie’s last time I was home and I have to say I was quite disappointed. I went to one in Oxford about a year ago and thought it was ~OK, although the salad dressing tasted bizarrely of geraniums. This time, though, my pasta was stodgy and the sauce had barely been seasoned. We ordered some antipasti which the waitress insisted on balancing on top of tins of tomatoes, which was totally impractical on our tiny table and kept falling over. When I took it off the tins, she came over and put it back up! Not impressed.

Saying that, I do have my Glaswegian favourites… Have you been to Guy’s restaurant in the Merchant City? Parents only just introduced me to it and it’s pretty delicious. I also love Mother India, and Balbir’s was good but it did make me feel a bit sick afterwards. What I really think Glasgow is missing is a good Japanese restaurant – I’ve tried the few that are there but they just aren’t up to scratch!

Any other recommendations, let me know – always looking for things to do with the family.



MeLikeyUK July 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hey Katie – nice post! As a fellow Glaswegian living in London, it is nice to see something posted about home. I’ve been living in London for 11 years but went back to Glasgow last month (to see Take That @ Hampden on a rain-free night – way-hay!). I went to Rogano for the first time for lunch – we went downstairs. I was really impressed with the quality, range and price of the dishes! You easily forget how pricey food can be in London.
I also love going to La Vallee Blanche and No.16 on Byres Road in the West End when I go back to Glasgow.


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