The UK, in general, has a bad reputation regarding their cuisine. It’s thought to be bland and boring, but I have found nothing of the sort to be true. Especially with new, young chefs coming in with modern ideas. They are transforming classic, traditional dishes into meals bursting with exciting, fresh flavours. Scotland might be a small country, but its abundance of lakes, rivers, and fertile soils makes it the perfect place for incredible seafood, delicious meat and hearty vegetables. When the Scandinavians came to Scotland, they brought with them their love of salting and smoking food. When the French arrived, they brought with them a refined culture of cookery and love of pastry. All this along with the native people’s local fruits and veg created the unique set of culinary combinations we get today. Here are some of the meals you MUST try if travelling to Glasgow and where to find them!
#1. A Scottish Breakfast
A traditional Scottish Breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, a tattie scones (made of potatoes), fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, buttered toast and black pudding. The Butterfly and the Pig, as well as Stravaign, have incredible Scottish Breakfast options in addition to a hip and cute setting to enjoy a cuppa along with your breakfast. Be warned, this meal is incredibly filling but is also the perfect thing to eat to kick off a day full of exploring!
#2. Macaroni Pie and Chips
No one really knows how this dish came to be, but the Scottish have long loved a crusty, flaky pie with a cheesy filling. And nothing is better to cure or prevent a hangover than a big bowl of mac and cheese - so it wasn’t a far reach for chefs to start combining these two comfort foods to create a truly epic meal. Old Salty’s isn’t your average chip shop. Its modern dining area with exposed stonework is a stylish place to enjoy a freshly made, carb-filled macaroni pie brimming with tangy cheddar cheese.
#3. Cullen Skink
Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. An authentic Cullen skink will use finnan haddie, a unique fish local only to Glasgow. Bar Gandolfi is a charming little cafe in the northern part of the city. Their chairs, tables and overall interior are inspired by the influential Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It’s the perfect place to curl up with a book (or let us face it, your Instagram feed) and warm up with a bowl of soup.
#4. Black Pudding
Black pudding is a mixture of suet, oats, blood, barley and a unique blend of spices. The mixture is then stuffed into a casing and served up like any other sausage. You’ll often find it as a part of a Scottish breakfast, served in B&Bs up and down the countryside. But recently, after being termed a ‘superfood’ by the British National Health service, it has found its way onto the menus of top-class restaurants. It pairs well with pork, chicken, game and seafood as well as fruits such as pears, apple and rhubarb. The Hyndland Cafe is one of the most down to earth restaurants serving up traditional black pudding with their breakfasts. You can also add a side of black pudding to any dish if you don't want the full breakfast or just want a little bit extra!
Cranachan is a simple Scottish dessert comprised of fresh raspberries, whipped cream, honey and toasted oats. For an added punch, put a dram of whisky on top. The Cranachan Cafe is one of the best places to try the dish. Seeing as its named after the dessert, they pride themselves on having the best one in town.
#6. Indian Curries
The words 'Scotland' and 'curry' seem to go hand in hand. Ever since British colonies were set up in India, due to the booming spice trade, people have been incorporating curry into their food since the 1700s. Take-away or eat-in, these hot and spicy meals are one of the most popular choices in Glasgow. Mother India is a Glasgow institution. They are no stranger to winning some of the city’s top culinary awards and them original mix of flavours, and fresh ingredients always surprise even the most seasoned visitor.
#7. Scotch Pies
A Scotch Pie was perhaps Scotland’s first incarnation of “fast food”. These portable pies have been around for so long their origin story has been lost in the mists of time. There are reports of a variation of the scotch pie being made in Scotland more than 500 years ago. Traditional Scotch pies were made from spiced mutton, as the inexpensive meat could be disguised in a wrapping of lard pastry. Traditionally, scotch pies were eaten by working-class men on their lunch break, but today you can get delicious pies in bakeries all over Glasgow and even available in classy restaurants. The Pot Still is one of the best Whiskey bars in Glasgow, serving up hundreds of varieties of the Scottish spirit. Their Scotch pie will only cost you 2 euros and are some of the most flavourful pies in the city, take those savings and buy yourself and your friends a round of delicious whiskey to go along with it!
#8. Scottish Salmon
Scotland is a prime breeding ground for salmons since the water is so clean and if you check the label at your local grocery store you might be surprised how much pre-packaged salmon originate in Scotland. But eating it straight from the suppliers is the best and most fresh way to experience it. People in Glasgow have been using salmon in dishes since the dawn of time and have had hundreds of years to perfect it. The Fish People Cafe is a new seafood restaurant serving up affordably priced, locally sourced seafood. Try the Campsie glen smoked salmon with dill crème Fraiche, pickled cauliflower, sweet apple as an appetizer of their Blackened Cajun salmon fillet, spiced ginger mayo, hand cut chips for a different take on the traditional dish.
Right at the top of our list, is Haggis, perhaps the most famous of any food to come out of Scotland. While it might have a reputation for being repulsive, when appropriately cooked, this dish can be fantastic! Haggis is Scotland’s national dish and is made from minced sheep's offal mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, spices and seasoning and then boiled in a sheep's stomach. Yeah, it doesn’t sound very appealing but some of the best foods in the world don't sound all that good on paper. Modern restaurants have begun tinkering with the original recipe, and Ubiquitous Chip is one of the best places to give this dish a try. Their venison haggis with champit tatties, carrot crisps and neep cream are all traditional Scottish sides and the perfect meal to celebrate everything this country has to offer.