There are no weekend reservations at Tabac, one of Glasgow’s buzz-worthy city centre restaurants promising something new.
The other half and I were a bit dismayed to hear it, picturing half our Friday night spent lingering at the bar and waiting for a table.
Thankfully, we had barely ordered our first schooners (with a grumble from Mr Where’s My Pint, although it has to be said that Tabac’s selection of draught is excellent) when a rare table became free.
In fact, bar and tables are one and the same at the small Mitchell Lane establishment — and it’s one of the few criticisms I could make of Tabac; that jostling elbows and after-work drinks crowds were never far from our mountain of food.
Okay, so the lighting is a little low too - more urban cool than able-to-see-your-dinner — but it adds to the atmosphere of a place where ‘Please God make tomorrow better’ looms large in neon letters over the windows.
Between us, we ordered up more than enough food for a table of four (lesson learned but I regret nothing), starting with a small plate offering of deep fried lamb ribs.
Oh, to be facing another plate of them; soft meat crumbling from the bone punctuated by a coating of nutty dukkah and pops of pomegranate — an inspired combination, unlike the many ribs combos doing the rounds in Glasgow’s dirty food favourites.
Pork san chow bow style was tasty; lettuce cups packed with minced meat, hoi sin, coriander and chunky peanuts; refined enough to excite the inner foodie, but meaty and mighty enough to fill your stomach.
Fries with chicken salt were a savoury novelty, but the king of the sides was an ‘ancient grain salad’; a hearty mix of grains, green herbs and tahini dressing.
If Tabac is willing to share the recipe then I’m all ears.
If you’re looking for something really special, my money’s on the scallops with avocado, lime and crispy chicken skin.
Any food fan worth their (chicken) salt knows that a little sharp, savoury flavour goes a long way against plump seafood morsels.
Bacon, chorizo; this keen eater has tried a few, but clean, crisp chicken skin is the future — like mixing the best bits of Sunday dinner (that’s a posh starter and the naughtiest bit of the main).
Pair this with hidden puddles of zesty avocado cream and it’s a winner. Keep serving this one and I’ll soon be a regular.
Tabac is a trendy place, no doubt about it — but will it survive beyond the first wave of foodies and post-work drinkers swooning over those craft beer schooners?
With food this good — and so unlike Glasgow’s horde of down and dirty burger joints — I’m willing to bet yes.
If tomorrow does turn out to be better then I’m first in line to taste test it.
10 Mitchell Lane
0141 572 1448