My good friend Maggie has had a pretty tough time of things lately so my friend Carmen and I decided to go up to Glasgow at the weekend to cheer her up. Maggie had been keen to try out The Fish People Cafe for a few months so we tried to get in there on the Saturday night. Alas, they were fully booked but we managed to get a table for a late lunch on Sunday instead.
The Fish People Café is tucked in between Shields Road subway station and its park and ride car park. They only opened their doors back in September and have already won Best Newcomer at The List Eating and Drinking Guide for 2013 and Best Seafood Restaurant at the Scottish Restaurant Awards.
The Fish People started out 13 years ago as a fishmonger, providing fresh fish and seafood to hundreds of restaurants and hotels. They then decided to open a café next door to showcase the very best of their produce.
We turned up at 2.30pm on a wet and miserable Sunday with a bottle of Sancerre in our bag. We had been told the night before that it was BYO. But when we sat down we were handed the wine list. It seems it was BYO until very recently. So we ordered a bottle from the list and kept our bottle in my bag.
The menu is lovely and it took a bit of time to decide what we wanted. Maggie opted for the Cullen skink (£5.50) to start and it was absolutely divine. Creamy, full-flavoured, silky, it was so delicious. I was gutted when I tasted it. Why hadn’t I ordered it? Why??
Because I’d decided to order the steamed Shetland mussels with chorizo, leek and lemon (£7.50).
These were still very, very good but I shouldn’t have tried the cullen skink first. Anything else would naturally pale in comparison. However, the mussels really were very tasty. The chorizo really packed a punch but as usually happens with chorizo, they become the dominant flavour and I couldn’t taste the leeks. But once the mussels were finished (and there were a LOT of them!) the sauce was beautiful.
After I’d finished my mountain of mussels I was starting to feel quite full. I was hoping that my main dish of fish stew with saffron rouille, croutons and gruyere (£14.00) would be quite light. Unfortunately, when it was put in front of me, it looked a lot like my starter!
I really wish the waiter would have pointed this out when I was ordering. I don’t think its uncommon to say “I just want to point out that the two dishes you have ordered are somewhat similar. Would you like to continue with those or perhaps order something else?” If he had said that I would definitely have changed my order.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with my fish stew, it was delicious. A wonderful bouillabaisse type dish containing large chunks of salmon, seabass (I think), mussels, clams, prawns and shrimps. Alongside it came a saffron rouille and grated gruyere as an accompaniment.
The rouille was perfect with the fish, it really added another dimension of flavour to it but I really didn’t understand what the gruyere was there for. It added nothing to the dish at all.
Unfortunately I was so full from my mountain of mussels, the last thing I wanted to see was more mussels and there they were, in a very similar looking sauce. If I hadn’t had the mussels to start with, I would have polished off this stew. In fact, it was so full of fish, I don’t think I should have had a starter at all. And when I go back (which I will), I would definitely not get a starter next time. Actually, no, that’s a lie, I’d get that cullen skink. Carmen also ordered the mussels and I think with hindsight, we could have shared a portion. When the waiter came to take my half-eaten plate away he looked genuinely upset that I hadn’t polished my plate clean. I had to explain that I was simply very full from the enormous portions of fish I’d eaten.
Maggie ordered grilled fillets of grey sole with king prawns wok fried greens chilli oil and lime (£13.50)….
I had a bite of this and it was really lovely. Very delicate yet fragrant and the chilli oil didn’t overtake the dish. I think I would have this next time I go back.
Carmen went for the whole Anglesey sea bass, cooked on the bone tandoori-style with pungent curry oil and lemon…
This was stunning to look at and to taste. But again, huge for one person. Carmen didn’t want to leave any of it but by the end of it could hardly breathe she was so full!
We asked for a bit of time before we ordered coffee so we could try to digest some of the food. I, however, felt so full I just wanted to fall asleep and was almost slurring, so I had to order a double espresso quickly. Luckily, it came with some tablet. I LOVE tablet.
The Fish People Cafe really is a little gem. If Maggie hadn’t mentioned it, I never would have known about it and I’m so glad she did. The staff were extremely friendly and knowledgeable and the quality of the food is wonderful. However, I do think they would benefit from making their starters a little smaller. I would happily have paid the same amount for a smaller portion of the mussels. Next time, I will order a lot better but there will definitely be a next time.
The Fish People Cafe, Shields Road Subway Station, 350 Scotland Street, Glasgow, G5 8QF.
T: 0141 429 8787 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org