I love Glasgow, especially the West End of Glasgow. My three brothers live in the West End and when I go home to visit my family, I usually spend the majority of my time there. With its wealth of fantastic restaurants, delis, bars and pubs, it’s the ideal foodie destination.
One of my favourite restaurants in the West End is Crabshakk, a fantastic seafood restaurant situated at the Finnieston end of Argyle Street. This is a regular haunt of my brothers and I’ve been several times myself. I was in Glasgow a couple of weekends ago with a couple of my friends from London. I know my friend Carmen very well and I knew it would be right up her street. Luckily, I was right! She and her boyfriend loved it, as did my friend Maggie who had never been despite living in Glasgow herself. I have a feeling she will be there again very soon.
Crabshakk has been converted from an old and very small shop into one of the most stunning restaurants in Glasgow. It is very easy to miss, with a muted grey front and a small sign above the door.
As you walk in, you are confronted with four huge and very striking lamps above a large bar that you can eat at. This is for walk-ins only, you can’t book the bar. To the side of the bar are benches of driftwood and I mean that literally. This is the kind of place where you need to be prepared to get up close and personal. In fact, my brother spent a great deal of time (and money) ‘courting’ his now fiancé in Crabshakk. There is one large table at the window where you can perch on stools, and a couple of small tables where 4 people can sit together, albeit it very closely! Through an alcove past the bar there is yet more driftwood to eat at.
With lots of wood, steel, exposed stone walls and a stunning ceiling painted navy and adorned with beautiful original cornicing it really is a lovely place in which to eat. Above, there is a mezzanine area with lots of white tiling and a selection of black and white prints featuring the beaches of Lewis, the hometown of the owner, architect John Macleod.
We arrived at Crabshakk about 8pm but it was full, so we headed across the road to The Ben Nevis pub to wait until they had a free table. Twenty minutes later we got a call from the restaurant to tell us our table was ready. We finished our drinks and headed back across the road.
An incredibly friendly waitress introduced herself and ran through the specials with us.
Then she told us that they had sold out of langoustines. Aaaargh…disaster! I was really looking forward to them. But at least that was the only thing missing from the menu.
We began with a large portion of scallops in anchovy butter (£10.50). I was a bit nervous about the anchovy butter but the waitress assured us that there isn’t a strong taste of anchovy.
These were absolutely incredible. They arrived on the table in a roasting hot cast-iron skillet, with the butter still bubbling. They were huge and juicy with the coral attached. Unfortunately they had to be shared amongst the 4 of us. I could have scoffed the lot!
Matt ordered 3 oysters (£5.95)…
He said they were meaty, succulent, the perfect icy temperature and served with a lovely shallot vinaigrette and a dash of Tabasco. He could have eaten a dozen.
Then came the tempura squid with soy and coriander dipping sauce (£6.95)…
These were heavenly. The tender, juicy quid was encased in an incredibly light crunchy batter. Unlike many fried foods, this wasn’t at all greasy or sickly, it was perfect. Again, I could have scoffed the lot myself. Carmen said this was the best tempura squid she’s ever had. Its also my brother’s favourite dish when he eats here.
Once we’d finished our starter dishes, our mains came out. We had picked two mains between us from the specials board…a whole lemon sole in a chorizo butter (£20)…
The perfectly cooked, delicate lemon sole was a delight. Unfortunately the flavour of the chorizo wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, there was just a hint of it in the background. The sole itself was as light as air.
We also ordered the Malay style curry with monkfish and Pollock (£16)…
I think this was one of my favourite dishes of the evening, it had a fantastic flavour and a gentle heat and the monkfish gave a good meatiness to it. I loved it.
We also decided to order another large portion of scallops since they were so good.
Puddings are a bit of an afterthought here but that’s fine, they admit that themselves. They concentrate on their strength which is the seafood. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed my vanilla panna cotta (£4.50)…
And Carmen and Matt enjoyed their Affogato (£4.50)…
Espressos finished off the evening.
Crabshakk never disappoints…the space is tiny and intimate but bursting at the seams with a buzzing atmosphere. The fish and shellfish is locally sourced and fresh and the chefs know exactly how to handle it. They really do cook it very well. Their crab cakes are apparently fantastic although I haven’t tried them myself. Maybe next time. The staff couldn’t have been nicer. Unfortunately I didn’t get our waitresses name but she was so lovely. Really friendly, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable about the food. She really made our night perfect.
Please make this a destination if you’re heading to Glasgow and if you live there and haven’t been there then what are you waiting for?? If you do go, make sure you pop into The Ben Nevis pub across the road. It’s got a great atmosphere, an entire wall filled with different whiskeys, some great gins and they often have live music.
Crabshakk, 1114 Argyle Street, Finneston, G3 8TD
Tel: 0141 334 6127
Open: Tue – Sat 11am till 12am; Sun 12pm till 12am