THE new SSE Hydro may be drawing more and more people to the Clydeside — but there’s another building nearby offering up a slice of history along with your dinner.
In the 1890s, the rotundas on either side of the river marked the entrance to passenger tunnels. Nowadays, the south rotunda lies derelict (although the National Theatre of Scotland has designs on it) — but the north houses three restaurants, all vying for the attention of gig-goers.
I went for Italian at La Rotunda; a romantic, candlelit restaurant which reflects the elegance of the building around it — but was equally inviting for a catch-up with my sister.
To start, I opted for calamari fritti; deep-fried squid rings served with a roast garlic and lemon mayo. It’s a great test dish because squid is so easy to overcook — but La Rotunda didn’t disappoint, with soft, succulent seafood and plenty of the punchy dip.
The polpette was just as good; meaty and generously portioned at four meatballs to a starter.
On to the mains (again, amply portioned), and my tagliatelle salsiccia was delicious; an incredibly rich ragu with crumbled Italian sausage and roast peppers.
But the star of the show was spaghetti al gamberoni; king prawns and roast tomatoes in a chilli and garlic sauce.
These were the biggest prawns I have ever seen (if La Rotunda care to share details of their supplier, I’m all ears) and the sauce was just spicy enough to please my chilli-loving companion.
Desserts were hardly necessary — but it’s all too easy to say ‘When in Rome...’
I chose a chocolate brownie; soft, moist and just the right amount of sticky, and across the table, affogato (vanilla ice cream topped with espresso) went down a treat.
It may be a sensible port of call when heading out for dinner and a show but, setting aside its famous neighbour, La Rotunda is a well-executed Italian in a striking historical setting — and even when the lights are dimmed over at the Hydro, it’s well worth a trip across the Clyde.
28 Tunnel St
Tel: 0141 847 0880