Saturday 16 May 2015

Pickled Ginger - Japanese vibes in Finnieston

Pickled Ginger is the latest new kid on the Finnieston block. Well actually it's about two blocks beyond Nouveau Finnieston proper in a part that is definitely still up and coming, if not downright down and upping. This sushi joint has taken the space vacated by Glasgow's favourite grumpy Italian, Riccardo, who pioneered an Italian eatery in these parts after closing the much missed Espresso. Riccardo is a seasoned professional but even he found it hard tempting people into this part of town.

We ventured down the day after Pickled Ginger's jam packed opening party- the posts were all over Facebook- but the following lunchtime, aside from one person at the bar we had the bright modern space to ourselves.

After comic attempts at pronunciation from both me and the waiter we managed to order two glasses of high end sake, the most expensive on the menu, when not in Tokyo and all that. Good sake is never cheap, it's all about polishing rice and master brewers staying up all night to ensure the rice doesn't get lonely or upset or something during fermentation. Very OCD, very Japanese. So in a shop expect to part with £25+ and in a restaurant, well. Well actually we couldn't part with anything because that particular sake had been polished off at the party, very generous of them, so we went for a mid menu sake at £5 a glass- beautiful elegant tall stemmed glasses which compensated for the measure which was about two gulps worth. Fortunately it was delicious- gummy and refined with hints of dried apricot and blossom- perfectly suited to gentle sipping and almost chilled enough. Fairly priced for good sake but I fear those measures are going to be a hard sell in Glasgow.

The menu is a greatest hits of sushi so we ordered a mixed sushi platter for two to try a few, some tempura and a miso soup. Miso is something that's as easy to make badly as it is to make brilliantly, this one was pretty good. The tempura was delicious.

And the sushi?

Well it was salmon. There were a couple of prawns and two squid nigiri, but mostly it was salmon.

Well made artfully presented very tasty salmon sushi but I was rather hoping for a bit more variety, nothing far out just a wee bit of tuna, clam or eel would have done. Maybe they'd run out of other fish the night before? So I asked why there was so much salmon and got the response, "Oh do you think we should mix it up a bit more?". Err yes, it's called a mixed sushi platter.

The Bill:

2x small sake £10.00
1x Miso soup £3.00
'Mixed' sushi fish £23.50
1x Tempura mixed £8.00

Total including tip: £50 for lunch for two.

Good sushi is never cheap and that's not cheap. The last time I ordered a mixed plate of sushi was in Zushi Puzzle in San Franscisco's Marina District and it cost about the same. There I was served nine different types of fish, some I'd never even heard of, and thanks to the cutting arts of the eccentric looking sushi master Chef Roger each one melted in the mouth.

Pickled Ginger has just opened and I'm sure it'll evolve rapidly in the coming weeks as the opening night hangover subsides. There's a lot to like here and a lot more to try- they have other dishes like noodles and gyoza and some tasty sounding Japanese vibe cocktails- I'm looking forward to visiting again but next time I'll order sushi individually rather than getting the salmon platter.

Pickled Ginger
512 St Vincent Street
0141 328 8941
G3 8XZ

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The deeper the cut the greater the thrill

Really, who doesn't love a bargain? Finding a rock bottom price for something you've actually considered buying at full price before. Today I struck gold, but first let me set the scene.

A few months back I found myself staring rather too long at a bottle of Tesco's own label Hermitage. In fairness I didn't just stare, I also picked it up off the shelf once or twice to read the back label, marvel at the depth of it's punt and generally fondle. The evitable became inevitable and, reflected in the beautifully formed shoulder of the weighty bottle, I saw a security guard lurking a little too close.

"I am not a bloody shoplifter just a man searching desperately inside himself to find a recent life event worth escalating out of all proportion in order to justify spending £21 on a bottle of red wine. One that, according to the back label, will go remarkably well with the reduced price venison I picked up a few aisles earlier. Now, distracted by you, you brute in a suit, I've bottled it, happy now?"

Of course in reality I just put the bottle back and left.

Today I went to Silverburn Shopping Centre. Now there's a sentence I've never written before and will never write again. Anyone wishing to study the end of the capitalist system in action should pop along to witness first hand it's seething mass of cheap and bland. The airport mall where the delayed departure to sophistication is never called.

In an attempt to find something to buy I reverted to form- food or drink or both- and headed into Tesco Extra. It's called that because everything you want to buy is an extra mile away from the check-outs. After a lengthy stroll I found myself at the wine aisle and went straight into bargain hunter mode, scanning the shelves looking for any inconsistencies with price to name, any reduced to clears or, and this is an important hunting ground, anything that isn't priced. I could barely contain my excitement with my first catch, so took a shelfie.

No special colouring on the label, no reduced stickers, just a price £13 lower than last time I'd seen it, what a bargain for a bottle of Hermitage.

Next up, a solitary bottle of classed growth Bordeaux from an excellent vintage on a shelf in the middle of no-where with no price.

Definitely worth a punt so after asking a member of staff to check if there was anymore Hermitage lurking out back, there wasn't, I headed off to the till.

The Haut Bages Liberals wasn't on the system so a member of staff went off to see if she could find the price. After 5 minutes of checks and discussion with others it was decided, since it wasn't listed, they'd let me have it for £4.99, did I want it at that price? Err yes please I said trying not to hug her.

According to my google researches, conducted from an armchair whilst caressing my catches, Haut Bages 2009 is normally £35+ a bottle. Every little helps and 'a lot' really helps, thank you Tesco.

Here's a man from Tesco saying just how good my £4.99 bottle of Haut Bages Liberals is.