At the end of February, I went to The Finnieston for the Best Of The West Tasting Menu & Wine Dinner after being invited by the Group Head Chef John Traynor. I had never dined at The Finnieston before but I knew from speaking with friends that it had mixed reviews, oh and it allows dogs into the restaurant.
Wanting to judge the food, atmosphere and service for myself, I went in with an open mind. A slightly nervous mind owning to the fact that I’m not a huge fish fan. I adore shellfish but for some reason, some fish scare me.
The tasting menu comprised of six courses of sea food combinations with wines matched by Frank Bradley (previously of Alliance Wines) to accompany each course. With each course served, Frank came around and explained the choice of wine and gave us a little background information on it.
First course was a West Kilbridge Tempura Oyster with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree. Yes, you read correctly. Tempura Oyster. I have to admit, I was rather apprehensive about trying this. I love oysters the way they are normally served- raw. With the tempura oyster, a Baumard Cremant de Loire Blanc (France) was chosen. The batter on the oyster was light crispy golden brown and inside a soft perfectly cooked oyster. It was delicious. I’m now a reformed tempura oyster lover. The sparkling wine was light, clean and crisp with a hint of pear, complimented the flavours extremely well.
The dish I was most looking forward to was next, Ethical Shellfish Company Hand Drived Scallops with Rhubarb Pickle and Apple Crisps. I adore scallops, well cooked ones. I’ve had exceptional scallops and I’ve had awful ones in various restaurants around the world. The scallops were large and plump, seared on the outside but if I had to be honest, they weren’t seared enough for my liking. I would have liked them a lot more if they were seared for another few seconds as they were so plump, but that’s my own personal preference.
The puree was delicious, the rhubarb had a nice tartness to it and the apple crisp was great for finishing off some of the extra puree. The wine for this course was Domaine Defaix Chablis (France), it was very citrusy white wine and rich. I enjoyed the wine and glad that it was being served for the next course as well.
Simple described as Cock A Leekie ‘My Way’, it left us wondering what on earth it could be. Soup? What way is his way? Well, his way was a deconstructed version of Cock A Leekie soup with sliced chicken breast, leeks, carrots, edible flowers, date puree and then a broth that was poured for us at the table. I couldn’t fault this. I rarely eat soup because I find it rather boring but this was very aromatic and flavoursome. The edible flowers made the dish stand out even more. Beautiful.
Next up was Troon Landed Salt Cured Hake, Pork Belly, Smoked Mackerel Croquet with Purple Sprouting Broccolo, Braised Fennel and Unami Butter Sauce. To accompany the dish, Domaine Wachai Zweight (Austria) was chosen. Maybe an unlikely choice given that it was a red wine and you normally associate white wine with fish but it balanced the dish. It wasn’t a dry red wine, it was light and crisp. The hake was cooked perfectly- succulent light and flaky flesh with skin crispy. The pork belly meat was flavoursome, soft and full of texture. The rind was beautifully crisp, however, there was too much fat which I had to discard as I’m not a fan. Unfortunately, I disliked the mackerel croquet as I’m not very keen on strong flavoured fish. My boyfriend on the other hand, loved the croquet and ate mine along with his own.
After a short break, we were served one of two desserts. First up was a Basil and Raspberry Doughnut. What we got was nothing short of impressive. The doughnut was served with your own injection full of jam which you squeezed into the doughnut, along with being rolled in basil sugar. The doughnut was surprisingly light and the jam was delectable. I actually ended up eating the jam on the spoon. It was THAT good. Basil & Raspberry works extremely well, I could have happily ate another doughnut. I really think that this dish should be put on the restaurant menu from here in out.
Lastly, a dessert of ALL desserts. Vimto Candy Floss Panna cotta with Popcorn Sorbet, Salt Caramel Fudge, Honeycomb and Popping Candy Crush. The wine to compliment the dish was Mad Tokaji (Hungary). I’m not sure any words could describe just how outstanding this dessert was. The panna cotta topped with candy floss was divine. The fudge was true and proper soft fudge, not a tablet consistency like some are mis sold. The popcorn sorbet was mouthwatering, leaving you wanting more. The dessert was finished off with some popping candy, my childhood favourite. How could anyone hate popping candy? I found the Mad Tokaji wine too sweet for me, especially with a dessert which was equally as sweet.
Overall, the food was exemplary and even though I disliked a few components to the dishes due to personal preference, it was really hard to fault it. It was a great introduction to The Finnieston for me and I will be back again to test the A La Carte menu (along with the dog for good measure!). We had a dedicated waiter and waitress for the evening which were very attentive to the tables, so for me, the service was to a high standard. I can’t judge for the restaurant as a whole though, hence needing to go back again to the main restaurant.
The tasting menu with matching wines costs £49.95 per person. It sounds rather steep, however, when you taking into account the high quality and thought put into the dishes along with wines to match, it is well worth the price. It is also a lot cheaper than others I have seen around town. The Finnieston do four of these per year so if you’ve never been, I highly recommend that you push the boat out and try one.
Note: I dined at The Finnieston as guests in return for a review. Whilst our meal was complimentary, I was under no obligation to write a positive review and my comments reflect my true experience on that evening.
The Finnieston Bar & Restaurant
1125 Argyle St, City Centre, Glasgow G3 8ND
Tel: 0141 222 2884
- Food - 8/108/10
- Service - 9/109/10
- Value - 9/109/10