Food – Glasgow: Catch West End. It simply has to be the finest fish supper in town!

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Catch West End can be found on Gibson Street in Glasgow. Pic: Google Streetview

The team behind the award-winning fish and chip outlet, Catch, is open once more – and despite the current Covid-19 restrictions, can still provide a fantastic fish supper.

So I decided to support my local economy – goodness knows they need it right now – with a visit to the company’s latest Gibson Street branch in the west end of Glasgow. Located in the student quarter, it was a shrewd move opening up this third branch. What student doesn’t like fish n’ chips?

There’s no car park and limited on-street parking, some of which is metered, but free after 6:30pm. To reach catch it’s on a local bus route or the nearest underground stations are located at Kelvinbridge or Hillhead. The restaurant is then a short 15-minute walk from either station.

Please be aware all tables are currently located upstairs therefore disabled access is limited, depending on your level of mobility.

The restaurant is located on Gibson Street in an area dominated over by Glasgow University and a multitude of student flats in what could be termed a vibrant area with a busy evening economy.

Given we are still working through the worst health pandemic of our time, restrictions on eating out in Scotland still apply. These include the wearing of facemasks or coverings, hand washing and/or sanitising, and the social distancing of tables and customers are just a few of the rules that must be adhered to in an attempt to alleviate transmission of the virus while we all get back to the ‘new normal’.

On arrival, there is a sanitising station at the main door and all diners are asked to use it before entering the restaurant.

We were not asked for any personal details as is required in Scotland for the Test and Protect system – I assume because I made my booking online they already had the information required. (Name, telephone number and email address).

All staff were masked, and our waitress promptly escorted us to a table upstairs in the dining area. The restaurant can normally seat around 26 to 30 depending on table configuration, however, with a 1m social distancing rule, this cuts down the number of available tables.

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Social distancing is still necessary in Scotland.

Unfortunately, what wasn’t explained prior to our arrival, or on the company’s website, was that Catch is currently operating a much-reduced menu from normal!

Notwithstanding that hiccup, the menus were located underneath the glass table tops so there was no need for handling paper  – another nod to viral security.

Drinks orders were taken –  the restaurant is licensed and will serve bottled beers, ciders, wines and spirits as well as soft drinks.

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The current reduced menu

Normally Catch offers quite a large range of starters, mains and a choice of desserts, but in these changed times current menu offerings are not as extensive.

There were five starters available, mac and cheese balls, salt and chilli squid, king prawn tempura, chicken tempura and halloumi fries. Unfortunately, there are no desserts available at this time.

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Catch’s original menu.

Owner Giacarlo Celini said:  “I wanted to create a casual but stylish café where diners could enjoy exceptional, fresh seafood dishes, without the stuffiness or the price tag.”

A double portion of the king prawn tempura was ordered to share. The eight golden nuggets were sprinkled with a chilli and spring onion dressing and served along with a bowl of sriracha mayonnaise.

The prawns were of a good size but don’t go expecting giant size, these are more your supermarket king prawn size and that’s probably why eight are served. It was an excellent starter portion.  The only thing missing to my mind was a slice of lemon to squeeze over for those who don’t like mayo dressings. Here’s a wee tip for you, prawns are normally graded numerically, according to the number in a pound weight.  So the smaller the number, the larger the prawn will be. No need to thank me, you’re welcome.

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These were cooked perfectly, they were a uniform golden yellow colour. Biting into one told me all I needed to know about the chefs abilities. I’ve maintained for years, a chef who can cook a prawn correctly or a rare steak is one worth keeping!

These seafood delights were soft but with just a little bite remaining to them, sweet and succulent, true jewels of the sea. Oh, did I mention that tempura batter – no, it was perfect: light, crispy, non-greasy with a lovely crunch to it and an ideal complement to the softer prawns. The sriracha mayo – creamy with a wee hint of heat to it. But not to the point of ruining the food by either overpowering the prawns delicate flavour or being too hot.

Following the starter, I opted for the haddock fish supper as my main. For my readers across the pond, a supper in Scotland is not the time one eats their meal – although, confusingly, it can be. In this instance, it simply means a piece of fish served along with a portion of chips. Oops, sorry, I should have said fries!

Anyway, back to the review. I thought I’d ordered a standard fish meal, but the plate contained a full fillet of haddock plus another piece. I assumed the kitchen thought the fillets were not of their usual size so upped the portion.  Of course, there was always the possibility they had a good look at me as I entered and thought – fillet-and-a-half type of guy! Still, you’ll get no complaints from me on that front. Supplied with a small pail of chips, a side salad and a dish of home-made tartare sauce. I had also ordered pickled onions along with bread-and-butter as side orders.

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It has to be said that this fish was so fresh it could have swum off the plate. Cooked perfectly, and in a light crispy batter, the fish was delicious – large firm white flakes of sustainably caught haddock which held their shape when cut.

I’ve always said, and indeed believed it, that to get fish this fresh you have to drive to the coast and preferably a location with a fishing industry – I know, they’re becoming rarer by the year. So, to find this quality of well-filleted fish in the centre of Glasgow, during the worlds worst pandemic where very few fishing boats are actually at sea, is a testament to Catch West End and I take my hat off to them.

The chips were crispy on the outside and flowery on the inside just as a chip should be, and has to be the perfect definition of a well-cooked fried potato. Smothered in salt and vinegar, as we do here in the west, there’s nothing more likely to get your tastebuds moving than vinegar splashed over hot chips.

The remainder of the side dishes, tartare sauce, pickled onions and bread-and-butter merely served to top off what must be one of the best fish suppers you’re likely to find in Glasgow.

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The bill for four including soft drinks was a very reasonable £76.

If you’ve not tried catch yet, but hanker for a good fish supper, reserve a table online or join the queue for a takeaway, for their will be a queue it’s that good. Alternatively, if you can’t even be bothered leaving the comfort of Netflix and your living room, then try out the online delivery service for the local area.

For me, this was a good 8/10 meal. Very worthy of a place in my top 10 of seafood restaurants.

For reservations, see Catch’s website at: Catch Fish and Chips

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