To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I last ate Greek cuisine when in Paros many moons ago, and, as best my fast-fading memory allows, it consisted of meatballs in various guises!
So when you visit Frosoulla’s on Sinclair Drive in the Southside of Glasgow, prepare yourself for a lot more than just meatballs.
The restaurant is tucked down a side street opposite the old Victoria Infirmary, and directly across from the place where Mediterranean dining started in Glasgow 42 years ago at The Golden Greek Kebab, run by the parents of the current restaurant’s owner, Frosoulla Kyriacou.
There is no private parking but plenty of on-street and metered bays available so finding space shouldn’t present a problem. It didn’t for me on a Friday evening at 7pm. Disabled access is good with no steps into the restaurant.
Now, I will warn you, it doesn’t look much from the outside, and it’s in a street that looks, well, slightly run down if I’m being honest. But don’t let that put you off, you’re in for a taste-tingling experience.
There was a very warm welcome from the sole waitress who covers the front of house, while Frosoulla covered the bar service. Like the external of the building, I had in my mind’s eye, something more rustic and taverna style in décor, but primarily it’s a very modern black and white colour scheme, with a nod to Greece from Aphrodite in the alcove and the Greek fret symbol. Still one must remember I’m not here as a design critic but to taste the food, which I’d been hearing a lot of good things about.
The ground floor is small allowing for 25 covers, however, a further 50 covers can be seated in the first-floor level.
So menus were duly provided, soup of the day advised and drinks orders taken. We were seated at a window table for two which wasn’t the warmest seat in the house, but once the food was served, frankly I couldn’t have cared less had I been in Siberia. One thing to keep in mind is to ask what the specials are. It was only after ordering that I noticed a board beside the bar providing the details. Luckily for me, I didn’t want the pork chops!
We were only the second table seated at 7pm which is always a worry in a restaurant, however, my fears were groundless, as by 7.30pm it was full.
There was a very ‘homely’ feel about the way this place is run. Almost as if you’re a friend and not a paying diner, and that’s nice, it all adds to the overall ambience. And, to bolster that, Frosoulla’s is in the running for Scotland’s Best “Rest of the World” Restaurant award at the Scottish Hospitality and Entertainment Awards 2016.
The menu isn’t extensive, and for me, that’s always a good thing. I’ve said it before, if you concentrate on your core dishes, rather than getting sidetracked into a lot of other stuff, the chances are, you’re in for a good meal. I worry when I have to put aside a half-hour just to peruse the menu!
So into the food dear friends, I launch. The starters I opted for was Keftedes – Crispy deep fried, seasoned meatballs with herbs and breadcrumbs. Smothered in the house, roasted tomato and wine sauce. I wanted to see if they could kick-start my memory of Paros in 1989. And you know what, they did exactly that. I was transported back to that wee taverna’s lemon grove where the CO and I ate many a meal of meatballs. However, what I don’t remember was there being such a huge plateful! Trust me, this is now a very good thing in my playbook. I had three huge roughly shaped meatballs with a nice crispy exterior and the most amazing, moist and full of flavour soft filling. The mix of lamb and beef was just right as was the spicing, and truth be told, add some potatoes to this dish and it’s no longer a starter it’s that large a portion. The sauce was rustic, with a good tang to the tomato base softened slightly by the wine to refine it ever so slightly. This was easily an award-winning dish.
My other half opted for the spinach and feta cakes. This like my Keftedes, came served with a dressed side salad. The plate contained three large fritters, and I was beginning to get an idea of portion sizes at Frosoulla’s by this stage. These had a lovely crisp golden brown crust, which, when broken open had chunks of oozing feta mixed into the potato and spinach filling. I thought this dish was slightly under seasoned and could have perhaps had a wee bit of a kick to it, however, Mrs Mac said they were absolutely perfect for her palate and she’d chosen them because there was no mention of hot spices on the menu. Horses for courses then.
Mains duly arrived and my Adana Kebab – Middle-Eastern lamb kofte patties served on hot pitta bread and smothered with a house roasted tomato and Greek Makedonikos red wine sauce, topped with a dollop of creamy tzatziki was a dish to behold. Oh, and did I mention I ordered a side dish of rice with it. What a plateful – but being the food review trooper I am I tucked in. Talk about sensations assaulting your taste buds, this dish had it all. The chargrilled patties, which I had feared might be too similar to the starter, was a pointless concern. These were chunkier in texture, a different flavoured lamb spice mix, smothered in that amazing red wine sauce, and the creamy soft smooth tzatziki. The six patties, however, were almost my undoing, and in hindsight, I didn’t need the rice either, although it did help mop up what was left of that lush sauce.
Mrs. M had chosen the house specialty, the Kleftiko. This has been prepared the same way for over 45 years by Maria Kyriacou and it is indeed very special. A large, tender, slow-cooked lamb shank with oregano and herbs. So tender in fact, it fell straight off the bone. There is no requirement for a knife with this dish. There was a choice of salad, chips, rice or roasted potatoes with this dish and the CO opted for the waitress approved option of the roast potatoes. An option for a gravy was also given, but again our very knowledgeable waitress suggested that its own juices were good enough for this dish. And she was right! The meat had no stringiness to it, proving it had indeed seen the inside of an oven for some considerable time. The roasties, more quartered potato wedges actually, were very good. Crisp on the outside with a creamy, fluffy inside, just as a good roastie should be.
I’m going to give fair warning at this point to any prospective diner – starve yourself before visiting Frosoulla’s! This restaurant doesn’t offer fine dining, and it’s not pretentious enough to kid you on about that. What you will get is an authentically cooked taste of the Mediterranean. It’s rustic home cooking at its very best, and it’s now easy to see why they’ve been shortlisted for an award. I wish them all the best with that – they deserve it.
As for the sweets, well it’s fair to say I couldn’t get anywhere near the bottom of my Pandora sundae. A vanilla ice cream, maraschino cherries, raspberry coulis and white chocolate flakes knickerbocker glory style pud, topped with whipped cream was the menu description. It was slightly disappointing. The chocolate ‘flakes’ were just catering style ‘buttons’ and the whipped cream, well it’s one of my pet hates when canned cream is used in a dessert as opposed to proper whipped cream!
However, Mrs. M opted for a much more traditional Greek specialty – the baklava. A crispy filo pastry layered with nuts and drizzled with honey syrup. Served with cream or ice cream. This was made to order so took a little longer to serve, but to be honest, after the size of the two courses we had consumed that was no bad thing. This came right up to the mark said my dining partner who scoffed the lot without a word being uttered, other than a lot of oohs and aahs.
Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the eclectic music mix. We started the evening with some very traditional Greek bouzouki music, but unfortunately part-way through the dining experience, this morphed into Frank Sinatra, UB40 and Billy Ocean. My recommendation is to ditch everything but the bouzouki.