Saturday, 20 April 2013

Enoteca Panevino - top wine & nibbles in Finnieston

Panevino, bread and wine, two of the greatest achievements of western civilisation and two of my favourite things yet until last night I'd never been in. Outside the menu read well, peeping through the window all I could see was a chichi sea of marble and polished metal. Italian bling is no doubt still the rage in Newlands and Newton Mearns but it's totally incongruous amid Finnieston's seething mass of piercings, tattoos and fixed gear bikes. This is Glasgow's wanna be Dalston that ended up Potlandia, here everyone believes they've at least one good pop-up in them.

Anyway, last night we were booked in for a spot of total immersion theatre in an empty warehouse above a fishmonger, as you do in Finnieston, but completely forgot to book anywhere for dinner. Numerous phone calls, a few of which were actually answered, resulted in the conclusion that since it was 12 degrees centigrade, sunny and Friday the entire city had decided come out to eat, drink and kid-on they live in a proper climate. Suddenly I remembered Panevino and we were in.

It's a funny thing getting in somewhere after trying everywhere else. Initially it's elation but by the time the phone call's finished you start thinking, 'Hmm, why did they have a table when nobody else did?'. I needn't have worried, the answer was 'because they could be arsed', the place was mobbed and they'd made an effort to squeeze us in.

The menu's full of things I like eating at this time of year. There's various nibbles- hams, salamis, cheeses- as well as more substantial dishes. If you get there before 6pm they do Aperitivo where for £5 you get a drink and a selection of nibbles 'of the day'.

We started with grilled then marinated vegetables, all £2 a dish and enough for three of us to have a bit. We went for courgettes, aubergines, artichokes, all good, fabulous little red peppers stuffed with tuna and a couple of cheeses, the one with Barolo wine was delicious. Bread's £1.60 a basket and nice enough.

For mains the beetroot risotto looked brilliant and tasted good, beetroot and parmesan go together really well. Proper risotto needs to be cooked to order, that takes at least 25 minutes with pretty much constant attention, something most restaurants can't do. Here they'd managed to retain a bit of bite to the rice.

If bread and wine are western civilisations greatest achievements then Linguine alle Vongole must surely be one of Italy's. It's a relatively straightforward dish that's almost impossible to find well executed.  Panevino's last night was the best I've had in Glasgow and by quite some way. Throughout the short time it took to devour the al dente linguine, swirling mass of surf clams and perfectly integrated garlicky sauce I didn't say a word. Rarely does a craving get satiated so well for £10.50.

The wine list's excellent and there's over 30 by the glass. We drank a superb bottle of Sardinian Vermentino, so good it tasted like a bargain at £22.40. There's plenty of good looking bottles for less than that. Frustratingly they don't put their wine list online, that's a real shame because it makes for good browsing.

We finished with a couple of very good espressos, just £1.40 each, before wandering off to the warehouse where we spent the next hour atop penny farthings, peddling away, staring into a Victorian camera at beautifully crafted miniature worlds whilst someone whispered in our ears. I love Finnieston.

panevino, 1075 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8LZ
tel. 0141 221 1136


Click here for the panevino website

And here's a clip from the bloody marvelous Portlandia:





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