Food Review: Singl-end, Glasgow

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You know what they say — you can’t keep a good restaurant down. Sadly, it didn’t seem the case for Singl-end this time last year.

The community-style kitchen in Garnethill was beloved of foodies and raved about by critics — this one included — and yet the doors closed suddenly back in October 2014.

Run by the Pagliocca family — also behind The Butterfly and the Pig, and The Shed nightclub in Shawlands — the reasons given were excess demand and too many commitments at home.

Michele Pagliocca explained: “It was primarily run by my son Gianni and his partner Jeniffer. The plan was to steadily grow the business, however demand far exceeded our expectations and, with two small children, Gianni and Jeniffer felt it was unmanageable.

“Rather than keeping it open and potentially compromising food and service, we decided to close our doors and return when we thought the time was right.”

Well, it’s about that time. With Singl-end reopening on October 28, The Extra was invited along to a sneak preview relaunch party.

Homestyle Italian conjures up images of pizza and pasta, but the taster buffet veered towards the more adventurous — perhaps a welcome sign of things to come.

Hot garlicky prawns with ribbons of courgette sat alongside roast veg, meatballs and pine nuts swimming in tahini (a winning dish for me) and fresh brown bread topped with earthy shreds of beetroot and flaky hot smoked salmon.

This is finger food for grown ups; a hark back to my first visit to Singl-end, when Gianni and Jeniffer had me don chef whites and assemble their pick and mix starter board.

A playful take on the munchy box maybe, back then it was a pizza box lid dotted with gems like velvety pickled red onion with capers, bruschetta topped with fennel puree, slivers of golden beetroot and a wedge of cheese flown in from Italy.

Singl-end has softened around the edges — gone is the industrial decor, in favour of a softer aesthetic, deep purple walls and homely touchs a la Butterfly and Pig — and it may be rebranding as a cafe and bakehouse, but the home-style cooking which made it great seems to remain.

And, on the subject of bakehouse, it has to be mentioned that much of the new menu will be gluten-free, offering a dining out option for those who have to watch what they eat.

The talk of the room at last week’s launch was a wheat-free nut and olive bread; deep, dark flavours and a dense texture, but would I have guessed that it was without wheat? It’s doubtful — and that’s a compliment. Then, there were the desserts; snippets of more to come, highlights including brownies so rich you wanted to throw yourself at them, marshmallowy meringue atop zesty lemon pies and — my favourite — tiny slices of sweet potato and almond bread topped with honey-laced ricotta and fig.

I’ll be honest; I had wondered if, beyond foodies in the know, Singl-end had suffered from a lack of footfall — and it’s still tucked away in a rare quiet, residential corner of the city centre. But if the launch is anything to go by, the city’s appetite for Singl-end remains — and its fresh, seasonal cooking to share around the table is a refreshing break from Glasgow’s dirty food obsession.

SINGL-END

265 Renfrew St

Glasgow

G3 6TT

0141 611 7270