Food: The Rum Shack

May 27, 2015

I used to blog about food a fair bit, but got out of the habit, tonight is worth sharing…

The Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road, opened about a year ago and is exactly what you expect from a place called The Rum Shack – lots of Rums (their facebook site claims 50, I didn’t count), Caribbean food and reggae music.

2015-05-26 20.13.01Being child free for a night meant we were out on a school night – but being parents of a young child meant we were in and out again before the cool people made the place look busy, in order to get to bed at a sensible time :-(

However, there was time for a couple of rums.  The bar staff were knowledgeable and after a few questions and suggestions….  “Yea I’ve tried that”  “Is that like their previous one”  “What’s new from Barbados?” I had an Angostura Cask Collection No.1 and later a Plantation Grande Réserve 5 years.  Both were very nice, but the Angostura was amazingly smooth and I’ve started trying to track down a bottle (limited edition with only 9,600 bottles available worldwide).  But I was supposed to be blogging about food not rum…

The Rum Shack’s menu isn’t extensive but from my limited Caribbean experience (honeymoon in Barbados) it seems authentic enough with Salt Fish, Curry Goat and rice-and-peas of course. We shared a starter of Accra -Salt Fish mixed with herbs and seasoning, shaped into balls and fried till golden. This came with the house hot sauce which nearly melted my lips and I thought I wouldn’t taste anything else all night!  The hot sauce isn’t messing and was way beyond my limit.

After some water and about 10min my mouth had calmed down enough to carry on.

2015-05-26 19.45.05Our main courses were Rum Shack Fish-n-chips which had a jerk style coating, sweet potato chips and lentils and Jerk Chicken, served with rice and peas and corn on the cob.  It was all absolutely delicious, the flavours weren’t overwhelming or too hot, everything was perfect.  Except, in my opinion, the portion size was a little small especially given the prices, e.g. 3 small balls of fish.  It isn’t extortionate but neither is this a cheap choice so you really don’t want to leave still feeling hungry.  That said, I would certainly like to go back and give it another try for both the excellent food and the chance to try different Rums!



food: The Ivy Bar (now known as Distill)

November 24, 2012

update 14/12/2012: now known as Distill (probably a name change brought on by this lot)


This is my favourite restaurant in Glasgow!

Tonight D and I went along, and shared a beef burger and Felafel burger, they were both absolutely fantastic!  I’m not sure what spiced up the beef burger but every mouthful was a delight.  The burgers were served with chips and side salad but really just saying that doesn’t do it justice.  The chips were hand cut and perfectly fried, salty and not the slightest bit greasy or overdone.  The ‘side salad’ was an exciting mix of leaves, beet, peas, etc.  and just enough to add to the disk and not overpower it.  While the burgers were more than adequate we decided to try a pudding simply for the sake of completeness and went for sticky toffy pudding – this was the best sticky toffee pudding I have ever tasted perhaps with the exception of the Downe’s Sticky Toffy pudding that I must try again just to make sure :-)

I do think the Ivy doesn’t have the most welcoming entrance (from Argyle Street) , with big heavy dark doors, and once in at first it appears to be a bar.  But as you move through to the back (or come in the other door from Kelvingrove Street) the small restaurant areas is very comfortable with dark lighting and chill/funky music at a decent level but not distractingly loud.

All that aside, the reason I discovered this place was a recommendation from the guys at The Good Spirit Company because this bar boasts around 100 different Rums and has staff who know what they are talking about when it comes to Rum!

Tonight, I started with a Cuban classic cocktail “El Presidente” (made with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, which is a fantastic rum on its own!).  At the end of the meal I asked for some advice on another rum to have, had a short conversation for the waiter to figure out what I have tried and enjoyed, then he brought three bottles over to discuss and choose from. I was very very pleased with the Foursquare 66 I ended up with – straight to the top of my wish list of Rums to buy!

Food: Ivy Bar Glasgow

March 10, 2012

playing catchup here since we went to the Ivy last Saturday, but better late than never:  the Ivy Bar (as it seems to be called, rather than ‘the Ivy’)  is on the corner of Argyle Street and Kelvingrove Street … in Finnieston – which seems to be the up and coming area of Glasgow for trendy bars and restaurants. It has been recommended to me various times now as the best selection of Rums in Glasgow. It turns out they claim to have the largest selection of Rum outside of London with around 90 different varieties on offer.  However, lets start with the meal.

We really didn’t know what to expect of the place as it looks like a very modern bar with a restaurant section towards the back and I’m not sure what their focus is on – food or drink.  The menu content was basically chicken, steak, burgers & fish and chips, but obviously described in a nice, fashionable way…”Beer battered coley fillet and chips with mushy peas, lemon and tartare” for example.  However when the food did arrived we were very pleased with the standard of everything on offer.  D had a steak while I had the fish(above), both dishes were superb and not too extortionate and we shared a gorgeous sticky-toffee-pudding to finish.

We both had cocktails with our meal a Mai Tai:
Angostura Bitters, Myers Jamaican rum, Appleton’s V/X Jamaican rum, Santa Teresa Orange Venezuelan rhum, raisins, fresh pineapple, salted caramel, house orgeat and fresh lime juice
and an El Presidente:
Diplimatico Exclusiva Venezuelan rum, Carpano Antica vermouth, Merlet triple sec, house grenadine

Towards the end of the meal I finally made my way to the bar to ask for a recommended Rum.  This process started by me telling them of a few that I liked and then I had a sniff of a few bottles.  The nicest smelling turned out to be £12/shot, so I had to miss that out this time around but instead had its 12 year old cousin “XM Millennium” Rum from Guyana.  Which I discovered when I got home was the same rum I selected as my favourite at the rum tasting last year!

Suffice to say I can highly recommend the Ivy’s food, selection of Rums, friendly service and knowledgeable bar staff who will help you find just the right Rum for you!

Christmas the 1st

December 31, 2011

Almost a week since Christmas Day but this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and think about it.

We moved into our new home on the 2nd of December and only a few weeks later hosted Christmas day for 9 of my lovely family, six adults and three children, including them all sleeping over so no one had to worry about driving.

This is the first time I have cooked a Christmas meal for many years, first time for this many people, first big meal in this house and first time using everything in the kitchen.  So I might have been a little stressed and a tad over prepared.  I decided to go for doing the lot from scratch and created the spreadsheet-of-doom to tell me when to do things on the day (this more or less worked for keeping things in order but the timing of each stage quickly went out the window and the estimated time of sitting down became “when it is ready”

First up, and made in advance was swede and cardamom soup, which I think worked really well but was perhaps a bit too heavy considering everything else that was to come.  Then the Turkey, which I bought from a local butcher, broke down into joints and cooked like this link – it lied by the way and took much longer than the time given to come up to temperature.  I also used that last link for a method of making the stuffing.  Along with this was the gravy, bread sauce & cranberry sauce, sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes and, of course, bacon-wrapped chipolatas.  Everything else, puddings, drinks, snacks, crackers, etc… were provided by my wonderful in-laws.

If you follow the links above you will see they are all youtube videos of the various recipes, and not all from the same chef, although I did stick to just two (with some tips from elsewhere).  By and large this was good because I like general pointers rather than strict recipes but a few time this was a little sketchy as not many quantities are mentioned in these videos, either to indicate how many the recipe is for or how much of any ingredient to use.  However, I worked it out more or less and everything sort of worked.

Cooking Christmas Lunch really isn’t that difficult and certainly not as difficult as I decided to make it for myself by not taking any shortcuts.  However, the lessons learned from this year might be as follows:

  • Jointing the turkey myself was a faff and not worth the extra effort just to get some bones for stock and a little brown meat.  A crown is enough for anyone and at a push turkey legs can be purchased fairly cheaply.
  • Scottish Free range organic… all nice words but this bird did have a lot of taste so I think it was worth it.
  • bread sauce is easy to make
  • cranberry sauce is even easier to make
  • gravy was a bit of a hassle because I was waiting for the bones and juices from the turkey – not sure this was much better than if I have prepared it fully before hand, then I could always just use the bones and juices later for stock or gravy for ‘left-overs’.
  • you can’t have enough chipolatas, especially with children at the table.
  • sprouts can be made almost edible by adding lots of other stuff to them

Above all, however, I think it is important to remember to have some really nice bread for the turkey sandwiches later on.


food: Jamie’s Italian

January 25, 2011

Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Geroge Square has been open for a while now and the queues you used to see outside have quietened down (then again it was a Sunday evening).  Despite the lack of queues outside, we still had a 40 minute wait in the bar.

The menu was interesting and it was hard to choose (partly hard to understand, mostly hard to choose) but we finally settled on spaghetti bolognese and some fish and chips…  well actually “Frito Misto – Italian dish of bits of meat, seafood, and vegetables dipped in batter and fried in olive oil”

I’m not a big fan of ‘shell fish’ or ‘squidgy things’ but I do like fish and in particular white fish and the waitress said this was mixed bits of white fish.  The photo shows how it arrived, which looked dramatic with the fried ‘fish’ in brown paper and topped with deep fried spaghetti, and a little bucket of chips (which were extra).

When I managed to get past the brittle deep fried spaghetti (which frankly was a waste of time, tasteless brittle nest of stuff that didn’t add anything to the meal) I discovered that most of the deep fried fish wasn’t fish but – calamari, sardines, prawn, etc. with very little (IMHO) fish!  The tartar sauce was excellent, the chips were OK but though I tried everything it really wasn’t to my taste – or to be more accurate ‘rubbish’.  The bits of fish I could eat weren’t even that great but the calamari was very chewy, the sardines tasteless, basically I didn’t like it.

D’ said the Spag-Bol was OK, but nothing too fantastic and to be honest that is what we expected.  Jamie Oliver’s restaurants trade on his name and reputation and I really like his TV and books so was expecting something above average.  We were charged highly above average price, but the quality of the food, just wasn’t up to that standard.

For interest – the above bag of little fishy bits with tartar sauce and ‘waste of space’ deep fried spaghetti cost £16!  Spag-Bol was a little over £10, chips were £3.25 and Morgan Spiced and Coke was £4.50 each.  I have paid more for a meal than this, but I think this might have been the worst meal I’ve eaten at a restaurant.  Deeply disappointing and I wouldn’t recommend going here.

food: No. Sixteen

November 25, 2010

Number 16 Byre’s Road was the long awaited number ‘N’ on our ongoing alphabet-restaurant-journey.  We managed to get there in time for their pre-theater menu which ends at 6:30pm during the week and looked forward to our two courses for £12.

Unfortunately I really didn’t find much to say about this place.  I had a starter of pan roast merguez sausage and a main course of Pan fried fillet of bream with olive crushed potatoes, red pepper essence and salsa verde.  Which was fine.

And that really sums up the food – it was fine, but nothing really blew me away or stood out as being extra special.  What did stand out was all the extras – how did 3 people eating a  fixed price menu of £12 end up at £53.

£3 for a fairly small, average tasting coffee
£2 for each small glass of soft drink
£2.50 for “seasonal vegetables” – which I thought could be really stunning but ended up to be a disappointingly small portion of steamed broccoli and courgette which was damp and tasteless.

I would have to say that No16 is, in my opinion, highly overpriced for their extras, drinks, etc. and the standard of food overall certainly wasn’t worth the £12 charge.  No photos I’m afraid because my phone has been playing up.

wedding – food – music – busy Saturday

October 10, 2010

To the SECC for the Scottish Wedding Show!  For some reason people seemed surprised that I would be interested in going to this at all.  I wasn’t the only ‘groom’ in the room but I do think D might have gotten more out of it if she was with her bridesmaid(s).  Lots of cars to sit in and try to have an opinion about, many cakes, dresses, wedding bands, photographers, etc.  what there wasn’t much of was things that are a little out of the ordinary or quirky – so I don’t think we came away with any new ideas.  There really is a massive industry built around weddings and I don’t think I saw anything today about making your marriage last after that one day, or the commitment involved in the sacrament of marriage, which is a bit sad.  Perhaps there is room for a christian marriage preparation course to market itself at an event like this.

After an exhausting afternoon going up and down the isles of this exhibition we had a bit of a rush to get into town and had to grab some place quick to eat before the concert.  We almost walked past Dragon-i, but had a quick check of the menu and from then on everything was quick – and excellent!

Dragon-i is on Hope Street (across from Theater Royal) and is a modern fusion Asian restaurant with influences from Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The pre-theater menu (at £12.95 for two courses) had more than enough choice for us and we had hardly started our complementary crackers before the first course arrived.  Between the two of us we had nothing bad to say about anything we ate.  The service was quick, friendly and efficient, the garlic rice was lovely and flavorsome.  We were slightly rushed but I would certainly like to go back to Dragon-i – my new favourite Asian restaurant!

Lastly, the slight gamble of the weekend was a surprise for D, we went to an RSNO concert in the Royal Concert Hall.

Nice’n’Easy was billed as a celebration of your favourite hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s by such songwriting greats as Bacharach & David and Henry Mancini.  …Music to Watch Girls Go By, Soul Bossa Nova, Do You Know the Way to San José?  The Girl from Ipanema, Strangers in the Night, etc.  This was a fantastic evening of great performances and lots of fun.  Most of the music was nice and familiar with a few new arrangements of songs.  There were lots of nice highlights in the evening but the standout performance was certainly from Peter Grant, check him out if you like that style of music.

By the way – I found out about this concert and got two tickets for the price of one through the 5pm email list!  5pm often has good deals worth being reminded of.