Tuesday 12 March 2013

The Bay Tree Cafe & A Bottle of Chablis

I've been coming here for longer than I care to remember. It was still a militant vegan place when I first rolled through the door and judging by the reception I'd say they could smell the meat on me. They're much friendlier these days and it has one of the best things going for it of any Glasgow restaurant, BYOB with no corkage charge. How good is that? Instead of paying the bare minimum 300% mark-up everywhere else, you get to drink a bottle of wine worth what you paid for it.

Well, I paid exactly nothing for this Chablis. One of two bottles sent as part of a Bloggers Competition to show how many different types of food Chablis compliments. The prize is a weekend for two in Chablis though I suspect given what I'm about to write there's no rush to look out the passports.

First up was a 'plenty to share' vegetarian platter. It comes with their delicious homemade baba ganoush, hummus and the other very good reason to visit The Bay Tree, their falafels. These are not just any falafels, these are the first falafels I ate and thought, right I get it now. They're gently spiced and there's a moreish tension between the crisp coating and the crumbly almost too dry interior that makes you keep dipping in the hummus. At £8.95 this dish makes a great starter for two and has this cafe's food hallmark, total freshness.
As for the wine, well strictly speaking it's a 'Petit Chablis', made from grapes grown on soil not considered good enough for true Chablis. The label said it'll be on sale in Marks and Spencer for '£7.5', good luck with that. It's one of the sharpest most searingly acidic wines I've encountered recently, only improving slightly as it warmed up. On the plus side we both swore our teeth were much whiter half way down the first glass.

We persevered with it into the mains. Juje Chicken kebab (£10.95) was as perfectly chargrilled and as delicious as ever, the Perisan Naan it came with was a bit stodgier than usual, more paratha in style. Turkish Potato Chaps (£8ish), great name 'Chaps' isn't it? Mashed potato encasing minced lamb and again always beautifully, gently spiced. Unfortunately these three were burnt, two at the edges one to a crisp all over. It's really annoying when restaurants send out burnt food, people aren't stupid, they know it's burnt, what they're left wondering is why it came to their table? The really burnt Chap was replaced, the others had to be eaten around.

As a palate cleanser the Chablis worked a treat, if it hadn't been -10c outside the thought of it as a sorbet could have appealed. In the end we popped the cork back on deciding the only thing that wine is ever going to compliment is oysters.

As for The Baytree Cafe, well, Chapgate aside, this place is remarkable value. We sat for the best part of an hour after dinner sipping a much more agreeable bottle of Fairtrade Bonarda Shiraz (on offer @ £3.99 Co-op) without ordering anything else from the menu and the waitress continued to be as friendly as ever. Eight of us were in here towards the end of last year, running out to the The Cave and Co-op for extras, and the bill came back at £15 a head. Remarkable. You can even smoke a hookah outside with your coffee if you're that way inclined.


& click here for The Cave's Facebook page. Top independent beer and wine seller.

Strictly speaking the Chablis Competition was for takeaway food, The Bay Tree food is available takeaway we just fancied sitting somewhere else.

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