This past Thursday Paul and I had a complimentary dinner at one of the best fine dining restaurants in the whole of Glasgow. Gamba, located on West George Street, has been a seafood staple for almost 20 years. Their dedication to providing not only quality meals but a luxurious dining experience has not only been recognised by their customers, but by the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame (2015), the AA Rosette Awards (2016/17) and as the UK Seafood Restaurant of the Year (2015).
There are several Gamba menus, meaning no matter what type of budget you’re on, you’ll be able to enjoy a meal here. From Sunday to Thursday you can enjoy their pre-theatre menu between 5 and 6.15pm, costing £20 for two courses and £24 for three, including a glass of house wine. Between 12 and 2.15pm on Mondays to Fridays their lunch menu costs the same, without the house wine. Luxury is what everybody is seeking nowadays, and with Gamba you can attain it.
The restaurant is located below street level, where I’ve found some of the most charming restaurants in Glasgow to be. From the dreary weather you walk down a staircase into a beautifully tiled patio, decorated with greenery and twinkling fairy lights. Through the door, the restaurant opens up in front of you with a smaller bar area to the left. I was struck by how well dressed the tables were as we walked through; glasses awaiting to be filled, drinks lists placed on Gamba placemats and candles lit. There was an open partition separating two dining areas, which added a sense of privacy to our table, while we were still able to see the entire restaurant. The colour pallete was very neutral with a mixture of wood, brown leather and tartans. There were accents of plants and flowers throughout, as well as elements of blue to tie the seafood menu into the decor. The lighting was well balanced, while being slightly dimmed and intimate it did not give any reminders of the restaurant being underground.
We ordered from the A la Carte Menu, where starters range between £7 and £15, whilst mains cost £11 to £30. My favourite part of this menu is that the source of each food was stated explicitly, and I was happy to see that most were locally sourced in Scotland. With our meals I had a glass of Sylvos Prosecco (£7.95) and an Italian white by Masseria Bianco (£7.50).
- Oysters (£15) – To start I had six Lindisfarne Rock oysters, which was my first time trying the dish. The presentation of the dish was beautiful; the oysters were shucked and presented on crushed ice with a lemon wrapped in muslin in the centre. At the side was tobasco sauce and a serving of chopped shallots in balsamic vinegar and a splash of red wine. The citrus of the lemon, spice of tobasco and subtle sweetness of the shallots complimented the oysters wonderfully, as well as working well together. A generous, light and delicious starter, whether you’re a fan of oysters or keen to try them I definitely recommend this for a starter.
- Sweet Potato Soup (£7) – This gluten free soup dish was perfect for the rainy Glasgow evening we were escaping from. Made with creme fraiche, chilli and coconut, this hearty starter is a great predecessor to some of the Asian influenced main courses. Creamy and sweet with a hint of spice, ask for a freshly baked bread roll to accompany this delicious soup starter.
- Monkfish and Scallops (£25) – I wanted to be as exploratory as possible, as I knew if I was going to enjoy seafood anywhere it would be in a restaurant of such quality as Gamba. I tried two dishes I had never tried before, and the monkfish and scallop main was my second. This very generously sized dish draws from Asian influences, from the fish and tamari sauces it’s cooked in to the method of being steamed in paper. Adding lemon, spring onions and ginger, this fish only dish is well balanced, light and flavoursome. Our waiter suggested either a carbohydrate or salad to accompany this dish, so I opted for the salad (£4). The monkfish was flavoursome and flaked on my fork while the scallops were sweet, cooked perfectly and tender, and both went incredibly well with the stock it was cooked in. The salad was perfect to break the dish up and incorporate new flavours and textures into it.
- Cod (£19.50) – This dish was exceptionally reasonably priced for the quality of ingredients and for its portion size. Served in a Thai fennel stew with a portion of rice, mussels and asparagus this dish was both beautifully presented and curated to perfection. Usually not a fan of cod, Paul was more than happy with his choice and recommended I order it next time we visit.
- Sticky Toffee Pudding (£7.50) – I love dessert, and couldn’t resist the offer of what I feel is the perfect one. Served with Madagascan vanilla ice cream and a thinned butterscotch sauce, the pudding was warm and soaked the sauce up while the ice cream hardened its top layer and cooled the dish down. Balanced, like every other dish on the incredibly well thought out menu, it was just the perfect amount of sweet.
By a long way Gamba is the nicest restaurant I have ever eaten in. The quality of the food is unparalleled in terms of specialty seafood restaurants in Glasgow, the staff had a broad scope of knowledge regarding all of their menus and were able to make recommendations in a second. The interior and exterior decor was all you would expect from a fine dining restaurant and more, and much like their menu was well thought out, balanced and of the highest calibre.
225A West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2ND.
0141 572 0899.