First Michelin starred restaurant for Glasgow, awarded in 2021 Guide
Cail Bruich (a Gaelic phrase meaning ‘to eat well’) opened approximately 12 years ago. It latest head chef, Lorna McNee took over in 2020 having arrived from serving as Sous Chef at 2 Michelin starred Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, where she gained most of her inspiration from and of the recently passed Mr Fairlee.
Although quite long, I can confirm it is possible to get a train from London Euston direct to Glasgow, have lunch there and train it back in the afternoon, also with no stops achieving a lot of work on the journeys. The ultimate question is, above the £90 full tasting menu tag, was it worth the trip? And the immediate answer is absolutely. I was very pleased with this meal; there is a clear talent within Lorna McNnee and it is the sort of food you would just like to eat. Full details are at the expansion button below.
There were two choices on the menu: a 6-course tasting menu at £65 or a 9-course tasting menu at £90. Owing to the journey I opted for the full tasting menu but declined on drink purely as I had a lot of work to be done on the way back, but the drinks menu was reasonable and nicely judged with numerous world offerings but not too much to bamboozle. It was also nice to see the fabled Salon champagne on the menu for far less than twice the wholesale price in one case which is, in restaurant terms not hugely common.
An offering of mini pea tartlet with pea and mint oil, bergamot, horseradish, ricotta cheese, Feuille de Brick pastry was an enjoyable start- very light pastry and good mint flavouring (the pea not having as much). Next bite was a cheese gougere made with Winchester cheese which was also good followed by a delightful bit size piece of lamb belly with parsley Emulsion. All of these put me in a good mood and immediately calmed my trepidation of making the journey for the meal. Homemade sourdough baguette with wild allium butter and chicken fat butter with chicken skin bits were both absolutely lovely and I now knew I was in good hands at the bread and butter alone. I’ve often said and thought you can get a very good feel for the quality line of a restaurant based on how much attention to detail goes into the things that most might overlook and think of as not as important such as butter. But if you think about it, these are the very opening impressions and it just goes to show ultimately how important they are.
The first course was dressed brown crab made with Exmoor caviar, garden herbs, grew strawberries turbot roe, Isle of White tomatoes using half cooked, half raw and within the consommé. This dish was fatty but light, silky and smokey overall with lovely fresh herbs kicking in. Each mouthful produced a change in primary flavours with the acidity from tomatoes coming through well at the end.
Roast Isle of Skye langoustine, pork lardo, powder from the langoustine’s head, citrus bisque, ponzu onion and lemon purée was served with claw meat. This had a wonderful clarified citrus consommé with bits of grapefruit beneath the creamy espuma. My observation is that the langoustine was initially a little drowned by all of this, but once the bisque was drained in the mouth, it was coated with a good combination for the langoustine which had very good texture.
Hen of the woods mushroom was next with black garlic, brioche, Madeira gel, summer truffles brushed with cep mushroom butter, cep purée, king oyster mushroom, filo pastry, truffle velouté and lemon gel dots on top. Quite a mouthful to describe! The velouté itself was absolutely gorgeous, silky rich and a level of truffle aroma that was pitched well and had decent pastry texture. A readily enjoyable hit of umami.
Turbot came from a 5.6kg fish caught off the Orkney Islands (landed at Scrabster, taken to Perth and then to Glasgow); this is a medium – good-sized turbot and represents good value for money based on the portion size and more importantly was very good quality, cooked beautifully. In a new one for myself, the turbot had fish stuffing inside made with nibbed almonds and I thought this was a great touch, the richness of the stuffing being a good compliment to the gentle turbot and not overwhelming at the same time. Herbs and smoky charred lettuce came with a consommé made from the turbot bones, squid and salmon skin with a bergamot gel. There was a glorious smokiness to this and whilst I had reservations about seeing bergamot in this dush, the citrus punch from this was actually matched well. The consommé had good depth and this was a very good dish.
Saddle of Roe deer from the South Scottish border of Kelso was cultivated as long as possible pre-cooking by being bathed in spiced salt beetroot and came with a potato and rosemary emulsion and sautéed foie gras. The meat was beautifully tender and with good judgement of the spiced salt. The fatty emulsion and fried foie gras (also good) had good relief from the two very good friends of game dishes, blackberry and beetroot. I thought this was very well done.
The first dessert was a super strawberry and cream dish made with milk from Seahills farm outside of Arbroath and Katy Rogers crème fraiche (north coast) using only owned British Friesian cattle. The dessert sat on a basil sponge with a mint and strawberry consommé that was so clear and strong (using approx. 5kg of strawberries for the consommé) reminded me of my first strawberry soup at Arzak, San Sebastian. This was absolutely tip-top and if the organisers of Wimbledon are looking for a strawberry and cream dessert to make their clients happy in their corporate boxes, I believe I have found it.
Coconut espuma and pina colada sorbet with pineapple crémeux came with a mango salad and lemon gel. Again, there wasn’t much to not like on this and was a lovely celebration of pina colada in a dessert, decorated with a very pretty, honeycomb biscuit cover. Who wouldn’t want that? Coffee came from a Tin Donkey coffee (the owner naming the company after the ‘sweep up’ vehicle that follows at the rear of the Tour de France), a local Glaswegian artisan coffee company. Petit fours included a salted caramel and custard tartlet petit fours which were totally delicate and with a nicely thinned chocolate coating around the salted caramel – very good finish.
There was an additional cheese cross-over course as the pre-dessert and although I was tempted, I actually didn’t want to risk being too full and uncomfortable as that would have left me less happy. Based on this menu, I have no doubt it would be good to do but I had experienced enough of Lorna McKnee’s offering to know that I was indeed in the hands of a skilled chef. In summary, there was very little to not like here and this is what I would say is a rock-solid 1 Michelin starred restaurant. It is in the upper echelons of the Michelin starred family in my opinion and I am genuinely pleased to have made the trip.
Food Grade: 83%
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