Food – Glasgow: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill. Must pay attention – could do better!

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The writer pictured with a rather grumpy chef!

It was a shame that the main star of the show, Marco Pierre White decided not to play along with the advertised Q&A session – at £90 per ticket, I’m fairly certain this element of the evening was a draw for many to shell out their hard-earned wonga!

However, I was there partly because of Marco’s latest UK book launch and to sample the food on offer.

The steakhouse restaurant is located within the Indigo hotel on Waterloo Street. The restaurant has no private parking available, although just around the corner on Blytheswood Street there are several metered parking bays available in adittion to a Q-Park across the street. Disabled access is excellent with a level street to restaurant surface.

The restaurant exudes quite a formal ambience in shades of reds and creams. It’s light bright and airy and open-plan in style, so if you’re looking for a cosy private booth for two on a romantic date night, you’ll not find it here. But if you want nice clean table linen and napkins, crystal-clear glassware and sparkling silverware, then you’re in the right place.

It must be remembered this wasn’t a standard visit for a restaurant review, and this will be reflected in this report. Upon entering, diners have a choice of a comfortable seating area/lounge to the right and the bar to the left with a mix of bar stools and lounge seating.

The staff were expecting me, but even so, were very friendly, helpful and attentive. Drinks were offered while I awaited other invited guests arriving. It was no surprise to see that the place was packed, and this also explained why it was a restricted menu on offer, with all meals due to be served at the same time.

So, to the food we go. The selection of four starters included a dish of smoked Scottish salmon, shallots, capers, pickled cucumber and buttered brown bread; salad of beetroot, goat’s cheese, candied walnuts with a merlot dressing, and a nice retro 70s prawn cocktail; a Creme du Barry (cauliflower) soup with baby leeks and truffle oil. My choice was for that old favourite, the prawn cocktail. Served in the ubiquitous ‘sundae’ glass, the shredded iceberg lettuce was crisp, fresh and still had a bite to it. One of my pet hates with prawn cocktails is when the kitchen team can’t even be bothered to make their own Marie Rose sauce. Not so in this case thankfully. It was a light, tangy, yet sweet sauce, and didn’t smother everything. There was enough of it to make the dish work. In a restaurant of this standard, I was expecting good Scottish langoustines, but it wasn’t to be. The standard ‘supermarket’ style king prawn, sliced in half, was what we got. That was a shame as this dish could easily have been lifted to the next level. A nice touch though was the half lemon wrapped in a muslin square allowing it to be squeezed without covering the dish in lemon pips.I find that if a restaurant pays attention to the small, finer details, nothing goes far wrong. So, I was also surprised to find that the crusts had been left on the bog-standard sliced brown bread. A nice piece of homemade crusty bread would have made all the difference.

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The selection of mains were; macaroni of wild mushrooms in a cep veloute sauce served with a soft poached egg; a grilled 8oz swordfish steak a la Provencal with buttered new potatoes, sauce vierge and fresh basil; a 10oz ribeye steak with pomme frites, tomatoes, steakhouse green salad and a merlot dressing or a chicken a la forestiere with spinach, wild mushrooms and a jus reduction, served with potato Dauphinoise. I opted for the latter.

This was well presented on a plain white china plate I was pleased to note. No need for the eccentricity of slates or chunks of timber!

Surprisingly, my chicken was just on the point of being dry. Had it been any drier then I’d have requested a replacement. Once again one can only assume that the kitchen had been prepared to serve at a set time, and with the delay of Mr White, everything had to be held back slightly. This was a shame as I had been looking forward to sampling this kitchens work. However, there were no complaints over the taste, which was exquisite. The jus reduction, wilted spinach and wild mushrooms all came together to provide a hearty ‘earthy’ solid taste on the palate, almost rustic and very reminiscent of some food I’ve eaten in a selection of small tavernas in the countryside around Provence and the like. And, to bring a contrast to the dish the creaminess of the Dauphinoise with a slight garlic/onion background hint, as well as the crispness on the top layer of potato was a better option than boiled or roast potatoes, so often normally served with this dish.

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The dessert course options were an old favourite, Mr White’s rice pudding with apricot compote; a warm Chicago chocolate brownie with a milk ice cream; Eton Mess or a cheese board containing a selection of farmhouse cheeses, and served with grapes, quince jelly and artisan crispbreads. I’m a sucker for a good cheese board, so it was no-contest on this course for me. The Morangie Brie, Blue Murder and Blairlaith Cheddar were delicious and there was enough of them on the board to satisfy me. The quince jelly was basically a small sliver and could easily have been a larger portion, the grapes, well, they’re grapes, disappointingly though, the artisan crispbreads were basically mini oatcakes. perhaps that’s what MPW’s steakhouse classify ‘artisan crispbreads’. I certainly don’t! And, I had to request that butter be brought to the table.

All in all, I was disappointed with the offering if I’m to be quite frank – I expected more. I had this idea in mind of some of the best cooking in Glasgow with amazing flavour combinations. I got some of the latter but little of the former. But you know what, we are all entitled to an off day, and I think that was the problem on this particular evening. I also strongly suspect that it was a case of circumstances beyond the kitchens control.

Perhaps I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this occasion and pop in again on a non-event evening and allow the team to show off their true skills, which I just know are there somewhere.

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