A’CHALLTAINN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, CALTON, GLASGOW.
A’Challtainn is a relatively new restaurant in the heart of the famous Barras, Glasgow, a brave attempt to civilize that area of the East End which has hung onto its traditional weekend market selling everything from dodgy cds and tapes to Persian rugs, with a plethora of other goods in between.
If we ignore the politics of urban cleansing involved, then in general the idea seems good, and the place clearly hit the spot for its target market of hipsters and trendies, with a few bemused locals occasionally wandering in for a look-see.
The space is large former market trading area, with a sizeable downstairs bar surrounded by small units offering a range of home-made goods, artistic prints, gifts, sofas etc., all of which were strangely closed on a Friday afternoon. There is also a flea market down there, which we didn’t have time to visit.
My intrepid wingwoman and I made our way upstairs to a table overlooking the bar, which we found quite interesting, although I suspect that had the place been at its fullest, the noise levels would have been overpowering, and we would have been unable to hear each other speak.
Service was well-paced, and menus were soon with us, predominantly seafood, as would be expected, with one or two meat or vegetarian dishes for oddbods.
We each chose the Cullen skink to start, as we were starving, and soon there arrived two plates of the hot and flavoursome broth, well filled with chunky pieces of haddock, served with a chunk of sourdough bread and decent butter.
To follow, I had the monkfish satay, while my friend had the sea bass with langoustine. Both dishes looked fresh and appetising on the plate, and we delved in. The monkfish was properly cooked, very tasty, served on a bed of steamed fennel accompanied by some interesting leaves, of which more later. The satay tasted freshly made, and was encouragingly non-gloopy, and was enough, but not overflowing the plate as is sometimes the case.
The seabass was, I am assured, delightful, as was the langoustine, filled with luminescent red roe as it was…, but the strongest favourable comment was made about the potatoes, which were simply boiled in their skins and served with butter, yummy.
All in all, the meal was refreshing and enjoyable, although my interesting leaves did manage to conceal a delectably bright green caterpillar, which I spotted trying to make its excuses and leave.
The staff appeared unperturbed by this turn of events, explaining that all the vegetables were freshly picked that morning, which the young waiter explained affably while picking the caterpillar from the leaf and playing with it in his hands, before wandering off to discuss matters with the chef. I did point out that sometimes washing the leaves helped, but he seemed unconvinced by this.
My companion and I were rather nonplussed, and awaited developments, none of which were forthcoming, although at bill-settling time, our coffees were deducted. No sign of the chef or any further apology.
Despite this setback, I would very likely go back there to eat, although I may well examine my vegetables more forensically.
Service: 8/10, despite caterpillar
Food: 7.5/10, also despite caterpillar