Elis Elliot is swept away by both the food and the heart-warming story at 111 by Modou in Glasgow.
SELDOM have I dined in a place with such a heart-warming and life-affirming story as 111 by Modou in Glasgow’s Kelvinside. But I’ll come back to that in a little while, mainly because I am desperate to tell you all about the food.
Chef Modou Diagne has created a special five-course tasting menu focusing on some incredible local ingredients. But he’s succeeded in pulling off something really special by allowing diners to choose their own path through the menu, but still offering up the element of surprise.
For each course, the menu lists two or three main ingredients to choose from but no details of how this star of the show will be turned into a dish. I loved this concept, the menu was really easy to navigate and I found making choices much easier when much of the dish was an unknown quantity.
So, for our amuse bouche first course we hedged our bets, me plumping for the black truffle and Mr E for the smoked mackerel. The truffle dish was a real highlight for me and I still rave about the glorious cigars filled with creamy, rich truffle filling served on a bed of pebbles.
I have no intention of spoiling the all-important surprises that make up a meal at 111 by Modou by describing each dish in too much detail, but I can tell you that, for the second course, we had the choice of smoked ham hough, Loch Etive sea trout or tortellini. The ham hough dish was gloriously smoky and hot with mustard seeds and stole Mr E’s heart.
The third course brought us a choice of pink fir apple, XO duck or grey sole; the fourth Shetland cod, confit lamb belly – which was a contender for my dish of the evening with the sharpness of the pickled onions offsetting the fattiness of the lamb perfectly – or violet artichoke, a dish that has converted Mr E to its thistly delights.
Pud brought a tricky choice, but the lemon and Perthshire strawberries won out. Irritatingly, Mr E was enraptured by the strawberries, despite prior to their arrival having protested that he was “pretty full” and stating clearly that he would let me eat “most of” his dessert. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
From beginning to end this was a fantastic meal. Dinner at 111 by Modou represents great value too. The cost for five courses is £30, with an optional cheese course for a £5 supplement. For £25, you can choose to partake in paired wines, again excellent value for money.
If that’s not enough to get you rushing to the website and booking yourself a table then I’m not sure what’s wrong with you, but do read on…
For those of you familiar with the Glasgow dining scene, you may know that this restaurant was 111 by Nico in the not-so-distant past. Earlier this year, chef Nico Simeone announced that he would close 111 to focus his time on his Six by Nico restaurants and “Home by Nico”, which has proved so popular over lockdown and that Modou would make the restaurant his own.
Chef Modou Diagne arrived in Scotland in 2013 with nothing and slept rough until finding refuge in a homeless shelter. Applying for a job at 111 by Nico, Modou quickly impressed Nico with his work ethic and positive attitude. Taking the young kitchen porter under his wing, Nico taught him the ropes and Modou became a valued colleague, talented head chef and friend, helping to make Nico’s flagship restaurant a huge success.
At just 26 years what chef Modou has achieved is nothing short of incredible. I look forward to watching this talented and inspirational chef’s career continue to blossom. I’m sure there are plenty of surprises yet to come.