When I started Glasgow Food Geek I made a very conscious decision that I was going to put a face to the name. I know that a lot of bloggers like to fly under the radar, and I totally get that, but I think it is important for you guys to know who I am. Writing a blog is quite an intimate thing….granted my blog isn’t as revealing as some but I am trying to bring you into my world a little so you have to know who that world belongs to.
But this can mean sometimes weird stuff happens to me when someone recognises me like when I visited Pianola last month….
Pianola on Crow Road is the epitome of West end vibes and wouldn’t look a jot out of place in Finnieston. Everything about the place screams stylish! The huge windows, fabulous on trend marble tables, distressed pillars, pretty flooring, dark wood paneling, the funky aprons the staff wear, and what I very much hope was a fake mounted stags head, all lends to the super cool feel.
My only negative with the decor was my seat…I was sat on the long padded bench style seating, and was right on a join so it was a little uncomfortable. And it got even more uncomfortable when someone came to sit beside me and it changed the height of each bench.
Staff wise here is where is gets a little weird – the waiter was incredibly helpful and chatty. However the oddest thing happened as we were paying the bill…he asked how I was going to review them and what I would score them. ERRRMMMM AWKWARD! He had clearly been send over by the manager because the waiter looked just as embarrassed as we did. Now this leaves me in a really difficult spot with regards to scoring the staff, because was I treated differently than I would have been had they not recognised me? Who knows!
And while the service I received was good I left feeling really awkward at being asked what I was going to write and what they would score, because the truth was I was out with my friends and hadn’t really given it any thought yet. While I am always happy to chat honestly about what I liked and didn’t like with a restaurant, this was just a wee bit embarrassing so I have to mark the staff down for being quite pushy.
Menu wise…I found it a bit confused. I picked up the first menu and it was full of interesting Scottish dishes you would expect to find on modern contemporary Scottish restaurants, then I picked up the 2nd menu and it was pizza and pasta, which for me felt a wee bit out of place. (disclaimer- this was November and it is entirely possible that these menus have change now…I can’t find their current menu online to confirm)
To start with I decided to order the Zucchini fritters which were described as pan fried zucchini & parmesan fritters with chive mascarpone, avocado, tomato & olive bruschetta, I also decided to add the smoked salmon for an additional £1.50.
I really enjoyed this dish – the three fritters were a hearty and generous portion, the tomato bruschetta was tasty and brought a delicious hit of tart sharpness to the dish which it needed. For me it was really the creamy chive mascarpone which made the dish, it was absolutely beautiful. On the negative side – the smoked salmon serving was tiny. And there were three random olives on the plate which still had stones in them, they just didn’t really add anything for me.
For my main I went for a dish called Jacob’s Ladder – 8oz beef short rib slow cooked for 16 hours, served with black truffle mash, broccolini & wild mushroom. It was really the black truffle mash that pulled me in.
The rib was good…… I’ll be honest I have been sitting here now for 6 minutes trying to work out what to say about the rib, and I am coming up short because I did enjoy it but it wasn’t as amazing and tender as I feel a rib slow cooked for 16 hours should be but I did genuinely like it. So I’m a bit stumped on what to actually say about it.
The truffle mash I loved, it was light, buttery and teaming with black truffle so I thought it was excellent. And even though I hate mushrooms I decided to give them a bash and actually really liked them, so the chef gets MAJOR props for getting me to eat them…quite an achievement. I would order this dish again cause I enjoyed it despite the rib not being super tender.
Sides wise I got to try some Sherry vinegar potatoes which were roasted potatoes finished with sherry vinegar & diced shallots. These were incredibly good, they tasted like the best salt and vinegar crisps. The potato was lovely and golden, and flavour wise they really packed a punch. They were fantastic. I also ordered a portion of market veg which was just runner beans and broccoli..which was fine.
For dessert I went a wee bit off menu by ordering the Mixed berry & white chocolate cheesecake without the berries and added a scoop of chocolate ice cream. The cheesecake was tasty – fluffy as a cloud and just sweet enough, and the base was gloriously buttery and crumbly. The ice cream was silky and velvety, and worked well with the cheesecake.
I feel I need to add yet another disclaimer here – Without doubt I ordered best, at a table of four, two people weren’t especially impressed with their dishes. Now I know I normally only write about my own experience but when half of my table didn’t enjoy their food it really has to be mentioned I feel.
The bill came in at £131.50 for 4 of us. That includes 4 soft drinks and corkage at £4 since they didn’t have a drinks license yet. So at £32.87 per person I think that is a reasonable price….possibly based on what others said about their dishes it might have been very much at the top of what was a reasonable price tho.
Would I go back to Pianola again? Yes, but probably not until later in the new year. I think as a restaurant they have great potential but for me it falls a bit short of other restaurants which I would consider to be in the same bracket – Chelsea Market, Stravaigin, Partick Duck Club etc are all a similar vibe and all better in my opinion. However I will say to you want I said to the waiter when he asked what I was going to score them….A good 7 – not quite there for me but has great potential and a beautiful restaurant. I will 100% give them another try in a few months.