In lazy articles and free plug magazines Cafe Gandolfi is often referred to as 'an institution'. Founded in 1979 it has a wonderful interior with furniture by Tim Stead and stained glass by John Clarke. There are many good reasons to go there, but the last few times I have, the food wasn't one of them. Next door is it's newish sibling, Gandolfi Fish, and it's here we came for lunch on Friday.
It has a modern interior with a huge expanse of glass that gives great views of the street. A small bar by the entrance is a nice spot to sip drinks while waiting for late arrivals. On a previous visit I'd asked for the cocktail list mentioned online but was told they'd stopped offering it due to a lack of interest. Customer's or staff's I wondered? Shame. But the wine list is good and includes a range of sherries and wines by the glass.
We drank the Chilean Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2008 at the bar and throughout the meal. It was, I think, £15.99 a bottle and everyone seemed to like it. Fresh, clean lemony taste but maybe a tad too sweet for the oysters I had to start.
The oysters themselves were splendid and reeked of the sea. With a drop of shallot and red wine vinegar they neared perfection. By far the best oysters I've had in Glasgow recently. £10.00 for 6 or £2.00 each. The waiter said they came from Loch Fyne. Others tried lobster pasty and pickled herring. Both went down very well.
At lunchtime you can choose from the carte or the special deals. We mixed between the two. I went for fish and chips at just under £10. There was a high batter to fish ratio, but what a batter! Gorgeous light and crispy right through. The fish was sweet and fresh. The chips were nice enough, but not in the same league as another purveyor of the 'just under £10' fish supper, Stravaigin.
Others had fish pie, also just under £10, a big plate of large langoustines, £24, and something crabby. Everyone said their food was great. Deserts were all £5. Ginger pudding was a big hit. On my last visit I'd tried the sticky toffee pudding. It was sublime, someone in the kitchen knows how to steam puddings. But I'd gone for the Pear tart, mainly because it came with custard. It was the posh stuff, more 'creme anglais' than Birds. The tart was fine, but frankly, I'd rather just have a big bowl of vanilla flecked custard. Why isn't it a desert in it's own right?
I've eaten here twice in three weeks. The owner was around this time. Last time he wasn't. The service was impeccable on both occasions. Even the toilets impress. Altogether, much better than eating in an institution.
84-86 Albion Street,
0141 552 9475