Review: The Loveable Rogue

The Hebridean may have gone, but Keith McIntyre is in love with its replacement – The Loveable Rogue in Glasgow.

WHEN it was announced at the end of August that The Loveable Rogue (TLR) was replacing The Hebridean in Glasgow’s West End, the accompanying press blurb stated that new owners Joe Lazzerini and Amalia Colaluca would be serving up “home-style comfort food”. Now, I don’t know about you, but my idea of home-style comfort food is mince and tatties slopped onto my plate topped off with a dollop of brown sauce. I have never, ever decided to knock up a crispy oyster with anchovie mayo and bacon crumb or octopus with back garlic and pomme puree. I really need to try harder, because that is exactly what I ate on a recent visit to this newcomer on the Glasgow foodie scene.

The first thing you notice when arriving at TLR is how little has changed cosmetically from its days as The Hebridean. A fashionable grey paint job replaces the previously whitewashed exterior, but inside remains almost identical, with bare brick work, subtle tartan touches and a comforting homely feel.  The menu still contains a plethora of pies of various flavours and sizes, but that is where the similarities end. The Hebridean was very good, but TLR is absolutely terrific. Every single dish was superb, unpretentiously presented, but still beautiful on the plate and packed with flavour.

Both of the staff who looked after us were delightful, friendly and knowledgable. They would have been forgiven for having their minds elsewhere as, like all hospitality staff, they were waiting anxiously on the First Minister‘s announcement on further covid restrictions. We were just leaving when the bad news came through and can only hope that the “circuit break” doesn’t stall the momentum that TLR was building.

After chatting with the staff, we opted to sample a few small plates to try and get a real sense of what TLR had to offer and I even persuaded my oyster-resistant companion to share a couple of the aforementioned crispy oysters – guess what? She’s a convert. Beautifully crisp on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside, they were served with a very subtle anchovie mayonnaise and salty crumbed bacon.

We followed the oyster by sharing the scallops with sweetcorn puree and charred sweetcorn, along with a dish of sugar-cured mackerel, avocado and pea purée and beetroot. The scallops were seared to perfection, but still had the beatifully translucent appearance and texture, which means we are dealing with a seriously talented chef.

Equally the mackerel  had a lovely crispy skin and flaked away at the slightest nudge of your fork. My only criticism would be that I would have like a bit more acidity in the beetroot rather than its creamy almost coleslaw taste and texture.

We put sharing on hold for the mains – no one was going to get near my octopus. Served simply on top of pickled shalotts with a dollop of black garlic puree and silky mashed potatoes, this was heaven on a plate. If you’ve ever had overcooked octopus or squid then you will understand the fear of cutting into it and hoping your knife doesn’t rebound and do you permanent damage. Well, fear not, I could have cut the generous tentacle with the bluntest of knives without any effort at all. A triumph.

My companion went for the altogether more robust and substantial pork, black pudding and apple combo. The pork loin was incredibly moist with the slightest hint of pink and the pieces of mellow black pudding came artistically wrapped in their own deep-fried potato string baskets. The stars of the show however, were the soft little apple balls that added both tartness and sweetness to the dish.

There then ensued a vigorous debate about whether puddings were required and, after deliberating for a full 20 seconds, we opted for the dark chocolate cremeux and the boozy plums with mascarpone. With a base reminiscent of chocolate covered Rice Crispies – that’s a good thing – the cremeux was rich and indulgent, if maybe a little too dense for me.

The plums were simply stunning and it took a huge amount of restraint not to lick the plate.

We arrived at TLR hoping and expecting some tasty, well-cooked gastro-pub fayre. What we got was so much more and – at £97 including coffee and a bottle of really decent South African chardonnay – was also exceptional value for money. Whenever we emerge from these latest restrictions, TLR is a must visit.

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