“ Address: 12-15 St Vincent Place / Glasgow / G1 2DW „
~Cafe Andaluz - Introduction~
Cafe Andaluz is a small chain of Spanish Tapas restaurants based in Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are two restaurants in Glasgow and I will be focussing on the City Centre restaurant. This particular restaurant has been open since November 2006. Cafe Andaluz promises freshly prepared tapas including vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes.
For those unfamiliar with tapas (like I was before dining here), tapas are normally small snack dishes of food or appetisers. They can be eaten before a main meal or you can make your own meal with a few different tapas.
~Location and Opening Times~
12-15 St Vincent Place
0141 222 2255
Cafe Andaluz is just off George Square and a few minutes walk from the main shopping areas of Glasgow. Queen Street, Arygle Street and Central Station are all a few minutes walk and buses stop around the corner from the restaurant. It is very easy to find and close to all amenities.
Food is served from midday until midnight seven days a week.
~Food On Offer~
The main focus is on tapas but there are a few alternative dishes on the al a carte menu. Parties of more than 8 diners are requested to order from a set menu (£18.95 - £25.95).
Cafe Andaluz offer a lunch offer from 12pm-3pm midweek - 3 tapas for £10.95 per person. They also have a pre-theatre offer from 5pm-6.30pm midweek - 3 tapas and a dessert for £13.95 per person. The Sunday menu is practically identical and is priced at £14.95 per person for 3 tapas and a dessert. There are a few supplements.
Tapas are in Spanish on the menu and an English explanation is presented underneath. The tapas are detailed on the website but here is a brief run down of what is available. There are 38 tapas available and some are gluten free.
*Vegetarian - roasted sweet potato with parsnip and chick pea in a dressing, grilled asparagus dishes, sliced mushrooms in truffle oil, stuffed aubergine
*Seafood - calamari, salmon fillet, king scallops, fillet of mackerel and jumbo king prawns
*Meat - meatballs in tomato sauce, Andalucian black pudding with onion and apple chutney, braised pork, chicken thighs
The al a carte menu includes the individual tapas dishes priced from £3.95 - £7.45. Fresh paella is served and suitable for sharing priced from £21.95. Sides are also available including fresh bread (£1.75), Spanish olives (£2.45) and fries (£3.25).
The set menus offer a range of the regular tapas for groups. There are a few desserts on offer priced from £4.75-£6.95. Choices include ice cream, pavlova, creme brulee, cheesecake, chocolate mousse and a cheese board. Children have a few smaller plate options.
The Spanish appreciate wine and sangria and these drinks are available. Wine is priced from £5.45. Coffee and soft drinks are available as are cocktails (priced around £5.95). Sangria is £3.95 per glass and £12.95 per pitcher.
~Why We Chose To Dine Here~
Yesterday my sister and I were out shopping in Glasgow without the children. Despite there being literally hundreds of restaurants and cafes in Glasgow city centre, we walked around for a good 30 minutes before our journey returned us back to George Square. Here we had a choice of Prezzo, Wetherspoons, an expensive restaurant and Cafe Andaluz. We decided to try out this restaurant as we fancied something different. A quick peek at the menu outside, we headed in. From the outside, it looks like any other restaurant in the immediate area.
Cafe Andaluz is accessed up a few stairs and is not very disabled or pram friendly. From the moment we walked into the restaurant, we were impressed. The restaurant isn't the most spacious. When we arrived just after midday, we were seated immediately at a table for two next to the window - perfect as I like people watching! Other seating options include booths and high tables/chairs. The restaurant was quiet when we arrived but business soon picked up. The waiter happily made space for a table of 8 nearby and the restaurant does seem popular with local workers and shoppers alike.
The restaurant has an authentic Spanish feel - just like you would expect in Spain. The walls were cream and adorned with colourful plates. There were some unusual light decorations hanging from the ceiling, heavy wooden doors and light music played. There is a well stocked bar and a set of rather unsteady, winding stairs leading to the toilets downstairs. I did not notice any disabled toilets or highchairs in the restaurant. The ladies toilets were spotless and well stocked but beng downstairs, this isn't ideal for all.
~So Much Choice!~
As we looked over the tapas menu and a la carte menu, we ordered some drinks. We decided on some cocktails and found the choice to be fairly good and priced well. My sister chose a Mojito which was served in a tall glass with lots of crushed ice and some fresh mint. I opted for a Raspberry Caipirinha (lime, brown sugar, fresh raspberries, Cachaca rum and ice) - it certainly packed a punch!
We ordered a basket of bread to graze on which arrived promptly and we definitely go out monies worth. We received quite a lot of sliced bread which tasted freshly made and absolutely delicious. We also received a bowl of oil with balsamic vinegar to dip the bread in. This is very much worth the £1.75 and was more than enough for both of us. Having never indulged in tapas before, we decided to order from the lunch time menu and thereby save ourselves some pennies (compared to the individual priced dishes).
I would say the lunch menu offers good value for money and the choice is brilliant. There is something to suit everyone and I'm sure vegetarians will appreciate that meat-free dishes are clearly noted in their own section. We took a good 10 minutes to browse the menu as there is quite a lot of dishes to decide between. My sister is a seafood fan whilst I prefer meat dishes. We ordered six tapas between us.
The tapas arrived after 25 minutes or so and everything was piping hot and fresh. We had a little trouble arranging our table to accommodate all six dishes but we managed eventually and admired what was on offer. The tapas dishes vary in size and are like starters really. Every dish was presented well and looked delicious so we tucked in!
Both my sister and I opted for 'Tortilla Espanola - a thick omelette traditionally filled with sliced potato and onion. Served with Spanish pixto salsa'. This dish was different to what we expect but was enjoyed none the less. The omelette looked like a big wedge of pineapple to me! The omelette itself wasn't very flavoured (but nor is a regular omelette) but was filling and the potato/onion combo was evident giving texture. The salsa was delicious and complimented the omelette perfectly. It had chunky pieces of courgette and onion through it and was deliciously sweet with a tangy undertone.
I opted for another vegetarian dish and whilst I enjoyed it, I felt I had eaten too much potato dishes! My dish of choice was 'Patatas Gratinadas - layered sliced potato baked with cream and mild Spanish cheese'. I received a hearty portion of this delicious dish which was topped with some flavoursome herbs. I chose this dish as I had something similar at a recent continental market and loved it. The potato pieces were sliced into bite sized pieces and topped with just the right amount of cream and cheese to avoid being sickly. The cheese was toasted slightly on the top and had a lovely, bubbly texture. I enjoyed it a lot.
My final choice was 'Pollo Marinado - panfried chicken marinated in paprika, lemon and corriander, served with chilli yoghurt'. I received quite a small but well presented dish offering three slices of red tinted chicken and a dipping pot. Whilst I was disappointed that the only meat dish I ordered was so small, I still enjoyed it. The chicken was cooked thoroughly and beautifully marinated. It tasted of a high quality and reminds me of the chicken inside pakora. I popped some on a piece of left over bread and dipped it in the chilli yoghurt - absolutely divine. The yoghurt was creamy with a delicate spicy flavour.
My sister had originally planned on ordering the goats cheese with chilli marmalade dish but changed her mind at the last moment. She opted for a seafood dish 'Chipirones - crisp fried baby squid with garlic mayo and lemon'. She received quite a large portion and everything looked well cooked though this type of food is not to my taste. My sister commented that whilst the squid was tasty enough, it was a little dry. She like the mayo but wasn't keen on this dish as it was a little different from what she is used to in Frankie and Bennys.
The final dish on our table was 'Paella Valenciana - combination of rice, chorizo, shellfish, chicken and flavoured with saffron'. Whilst paella isn't really my thing, I did have a try of the rice and found it to be cooked to perfection and beautifully flavoured. They were very generous with the additional toppings and the dish was tasty and filling according to my sister. I devoured nearly all of my tapas but my sister struggled to eat so much and commented that it was like eating three large starters!
We always have room for dessert and had already decided that the diet would be forgot just for that lunch time. Whilst the choice is quite limited for desserts, there is something to suit all tastes in my opinion. We opted for two different desserts to share (as we couldn't decide on just the one). The pavlova was presented in a huge plate and was absolutely amazing! A large, firm on the outside, soft and sugary on the inside meringue sat atop a dollop of super fresh cream. A little portion of sweet and tart like raspberries and coulis rested beside the cream and we found this dessert to be perfect.
We also opted for creme brulee and were shocked at how big the dish was! A crunchy, toffee topping (perfectly blowtorched I may add and beautifully decorated with icing sugar and a half, fresh strawberry) sat atop a creamy, mild sweet cream. I'm not sure what I expected but we were highly impressed. This dessert would be far too big for one person to tackle and even with a sweet tooth (like I have), I found it difficult to devour half of it myself. Overall we were impressed with the tapas and desserts.
From the moment we entered the restaurant until the moment we left, we were treated in a friendly and professional manner. We were originally served by a lovely (and Scottish) lady and then a delightful Spanish waiter. My sister couldn't help but comment how much he sounded like Antonio Banderas - she likes to embarress waiters when flirting and often leaves me embarressed at the same time! The staff managed to keep up with the sudden rush of lunch time dinners. Food was brought to the table at a reasonable pace and empty plates cleared promptly. Additional drinks were quickly brought out too.
Whilst Cafe Andaluz offers a childrens menu, it isn't somewhere that my son would enjoy but perhaps older children with a taste for Spanish dishes would like the menu. I will happily return to this restaurant as it believe that the selection of dishes on offer is excellent and the set prices make it value for money all round. Our dining experience was a positive one and there are no major complaints to comment on. The food was authentically Spanish and the surroundings added to the Spanish atmosphere.
Our bill came to £48.00 and we left £50 cash - they also accept card payments. Our bill included six tapas, two desserts, two cocktails, a basket of bread and a Coca Cola which I believe is an excellent price. We left the restaurant full and very satisfied indeed. I can highly recommend Cafe Andaluz and will be returning with my fiance soon as I believe he would like a lot of the dishes on offer. I would have happily went for a siesta after our meal - perhaps they should provide rooms for such purposes!
Thanks for reading :)
Originally written for ciao 20/09/12