Glasgow’s food star may yet be on the rise — but, let’s face it, some of those offerings can be a bit samey.
Having munched my way through the city’s best burgers, goats cheese starters aplenty and enough ‘scallop with’ pairings to certify the shellfish for its own soap opera, I might have told you that new and undiscovered gems were few and far between.
But a visit to Mark’s Deli proved me wrong.
Okay, so Giffnock’s long-established Jewish population and the family’s long-running history of providing kosher food to generations of southsiders (there are pictures on the walls to prove it), show I’m behind the times.
I could have spent hours peering at shelves packed with new and interesting goodies. But I had a date with the adjoining cafe, and a mountain of food Mark himself recommended.
It’s a cheerful wee place; cartoons poking fun at Jewish stereotypes on the walls and the bustle of a community hub where as many are there for the conversation, a bite to eat being strictly optional.
Jewish penicillin — or chicken soup — was up first; a steaming, therapeutic bowl of savoury broth with kneidlach and lockshen (or dumplings and egg noodles). I was told that the sign of a bad dumpling is hardness — these were meltingly soft, like spongy clouds of doughy bread just made to soak up soup.
As the person voted most likely to catch a cold in any given room (if only there was a prize for it), I’ll take this remedy any day.
Next up was chopped liver and egg with matzo crackers. I know, it doesn’t sound the most appetising - but for pate fans, it’s not a huge leap. I’m not a fan of the stuff, but with this I could see the appeal; chopped egg and onion lightening the meaty spread, and the liver itself silky smooth.
Falafel followed; the dark crusted, crunch-fried kind, paired with soft pillows of pitta bread, hummus, olives and the deli’s secret sauce. Having tried a healthier baked version at home earlier in the week, I can say the deli kitchen wins, hands down - sometimes you need a little fried action. The sauce — a peppery tomato relish — paired well, and it was one of my favourites on the now-groaning table.
The eagle-eyed may have spotted Mark’s salt beef on this page last week, as the deli supplies Dandelion Cafe.
Here, deep pink, pickle-tinged slices of the stuff are served on rye with American mustard. Try it, love it, buy some to take home. I wish I had — and I’ll be back soon for some.
It also made an appearance on the specials board, alongside a crisp potato latke; rosti meets hash brown, and a tasty side with more of those briny pickles.
Last up was gefilte; a dense, slightly dry fish cake made of poached white fish — at Mark’s, given a Glasgow twist with frying, moving it into fish and chip territory. It came with chryne, a beetroot and horseradish sauce; an earthy flavour which sat well with the salty fish.
Apart from a taste of Mark’s excellent chocolate truffles and buttery kichels, I was done for the day (and perhaps the rest of the week).
But I’ll be migrating to Giffnock for many a leisurely lunchtime now, knowing full well that salt beef and top-notch falafel await on Burnfield Road.
An overview of the menu:
Jewish pencillin - £3.95
Israeli falafel platter with hummus, olives and secret sauce - £7.95
Chopped liver, egg and onion platter - £7.95
Fried gefilte and chips - £7.95
Hot salt beef sandwich - £7.95
Hot salt beef and latkes (special) - £6.95
6 Burnfield Road
0141 638 8947