“ Address: 93-95 Hyndland St / Glasgow / Lanarkshire / Scotland / G11 5PU / Tel: 0141 357 5825 „
+ WHAT'S THE STORY? +
There isn't much of one, actually (stop cheering in the back!). I love Mexican food (and, of course, tequila) so of course it made sense to visit a restaurant serving South American cuisine (although it has become a little more "international", apparently). It took awhile getting around to making the reservation and going, but since my friend now stays literally around the corner from Cottiers, we didn't really have an excuse for not trying it out.
+ OKAY, WE'RE HERE. NOW WHAT? +
Well you've arrived (directions are at the end of the review, because I'm so utterly considerate that way. It's okay, you can buy me a Desperado in the Rio Cafe sometime ;-) lol) and rather than heading through the arched doorway into the bar, you'll need to take the old-fashioned looking door to the left of it up a slightly daunting spiral staircase. First impressions were that it was really cold (go figure: it was March and old church buildings aren't renowned for being cosy). Secondly, there was a really fusty smell. Not a nice 'in a library or second hand bookshop' aroma. Nope, I'm talking about 'in a cheesemongers' fusty. Very odd. Thankfully this seemed to be restricted to the staircase.
We were greeted warmly inside by a young woman who would be our server for the rest of the evening, and led us to our table. I was a bit surprised that we were the only diners there when it was after 6pm. Granted, it was a Monday night so we didn't think too much of it but I felt quite conscientious of being the only guests in what is described as a 70 seater restaurant.
In terms of atmosphere we really liked the restaurant and found it to be quite relaxing. The music played was unobtrusive, and began with a Spanish instrumentals, then moved (somehow seamlessly!) onto Stevie Nicks. At full capacity though, I get the impression that it could get a little too loud to experience any sort of chilled ambience. The lighting was dimmed but not overly so, and the decor promised was 'Aztec'... I could see a hint of it, but any positive effect on me was lost as soon as I clocked the numerous photos of Venice and gondolas on the walls beneath the 'Aztec' pattern.
+ LESS CHAT, MORE BOOZE! +
I was impressed with the well-stocked bar at the other end of the room. There were a lot of brand name spirits and liqueurs (and Jose Cuervo tequila, naturally!) as well as a decent range of lagers including Tiger (£3.90 a pint), Kronenberg, Sagres (£3.65 a pint) and (for the unadventurous) Fosters. I was an eejit and forgot to find out about whether there are ciders or stouts available, but you'll forgive me I'm sure. Since my friend was on antibiotics he couldn't have any alcohol (awww) so he just ordered a coke which came in a 200ml glass bottle priced at £1.85.
As for the wine, to me there was a fairly decent range with a small glass starting from £3.30, a large at £4.60 and bottles from £13.50.
+ WE SHOULD PROBABLY LOOK AT THE MENU...+
My friend and I had opted for the Pre-Theatre Menu, which was £9.95 per person for 2 courses, or £11.95 for 3 courses. In some places a set menu can be quite limited but out of the four starters and five mains that were available, my friend and I were pleased to see that there were a few options that interested us and it did take us a little while to decide what to order. Our lovely server, in the meantime, was understanding and gave us the extra time needed without making us feel like we were under pressure.
Admittedly, the Pre-Theatre Menu didn't have an obvious South American or Mexican feel to it although if that was a problem for anyone then there's always the option of just ordering from the normal A La Carte.
~ Starters ~
Prices range from £3.50 to £5.50 and options include Soup of the Day, Chiles Relenos (Jalapeno Poppers, hurrah!) and Empanadas (stuffed bread or pastry with a choice of spicy chicken or mixed vegetable filling).
~ Mains ~
Prices range from £9.95 to £19.95 and options include Fajitas (of course, and with a choice of carnivorous or vegetable filling), Pan Fried Loin of Swordfish, Puerco Borracho (described as 'drunken loin of pork'), and the exotic-sounding Albondigas (which turns out to be meatballs).
~ Sides ~
All priced at £2.50, and nothing too exciting on offer. Just the usual Fries, Mixed Salad, Onion Rings and (perhaps justifying the 'International' menu claims) Garlic Ciabatta.
~ Desserts ~
All priced at £5.50 and includes the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemon Brulee, and a Mixed Cheese plate.
+ FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD +
For a starter I ordered the Crispy Breaded Calamari.
Yes. Me. The person who is afraid of squid, octopi, jellyfish... ordered calamari. All because I want to try new things, and if that isn't something different I don't know what is. I'd never had it before - shan't be having it again - so can't judge really if anything was wrong with it, but I will say that it was okay. So long as I didn't think in detail about what I was eating and which part of the icky thing it was from. And smothered it in the delicious lime and coriander dip it came with. Considering I didn't want to think about what I was tasting and chewing on, it was difficult when the fried breadcrumb coating wouldn't stay on the squid rings. I survived though, I'm okay. I hope you all appreciate what I'm having to relive for you! Lol
My friend, on the other hand, played it safe and ordered the soup of the day which was Cream of Cauliflower and came with a couple of slices of crusty bread and butter. He couldn't rate it highly enough and it did have a nice cheese-y undertone to it.
In what may have been an attempt at playing it safe after my surprise choice in Starter, I opted for the Vegetarian Chilli with 'green herb rice' and 'pitta bread', which was just delicious. With chunks of courgette, butternut squash (or possibly sweet potato), carrot, pepper, onion and celery, it had just the right kick so it wasn't too spicy or hot but still left a warmth on your tongue afterwards.
My friend decided on the Brazilian Coco Pollo, which was a roasted breast of chicken with a coconut sauce and that green herb rice again. Described by my friend as 'very tasty... like a korma but with a nice twist', I have to agree that it was really quite nice but didn't make me regret my choice of main.
It's not very often that I can manage a full three courses in a restaurant, and this time was no exception. When we were offered the Desserts Menu, we decided to have a look anyway and ended up agreeing to share a Dark Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake. And I'm very glad we did, because it was just divine! Very rich and slightly sticky, I think it may be difficult for some to manage a whole portion of it to themselves (although some may make a valiant attempt, I'm sure) but it's definitely worth a try!
I should note that the service, while not a reflection on our friendly server, did feel quite slow as there was a bit of a wait between courses (in a near empty restaurant). However, rather than being arse-y about it, we just took it as a sign that each dish was being made fresh to order.
+ ANYTHING ELSE? +
Here's where Cottiers performance was let down. For an eatery located in what can be a rather pretentious part of Glasgow's West End, the bathrooms were really quite shabby. My friend described the Gents' as being similar to facilities you'd find in a pub, and the Ladies was quite off-putting. Two out of the four cubicles were in working order, there were a couple of tiles missing from the wall, and only one out of two soap dispensers were working.
Wheelchair accessible? -
Most definitely not. I'd fear for my safety and that of those around me if I had to navigate that spiral staircase after a few drinks. I do think there is another stairway at the opposite side of the restaurant which seems to lead down into the bar though, and I'm pretty sure it's less spiral-ly. Sorry, went off on a tangent there. No, unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.
There does appear to be a kids' menu available, but I saw no evidence of any young 'uns when I was there. Depending on the licence, some establishments aren't permitted to have children on the premises after 20:00. Whether this is the case here, I can't say (because I didn't ask and the website doesn't say).
If you're a vegetarian then options are a little limited, I'm afraid - there are two vegetarian main courses and five vegetarian starters on the A La Carte. Less than this on the Pre-Theatre Menu.
+ THE VERDICT +
The food in Cottiers is great, and I will be visiting again. If you can overlook the little things that I picked up on (fusty smell in the staircase, national identity crisis, poorly maintained bathrooms) then I'm confident that others would like it here as well. The silly things I found fault with are things that can be remedied, and despite this I still consider their Pre-Theatre Menu (available Sunday-Thursday evenings) excellent value for money and definitely something different in a City where Mexican or South American cuisine isn't always easy to find.
+ WHERE IS IT AND HOW DO I GET THERE? +
Cottiers Restaurant is located in the upper part of the Cottiers building (converted / renovated church which is now a bar and theatre) on 93 Hyndland Road in Glasgow's West End (specifically, it's in Partick / Dowanhill. Boundaries are a bit sketchy). Don't worry, I'll give the full address in a minute so you can Sat-Nav the postcode). I'd bore you all with a description of the church and history, but that's detailed on their website.
For those of you unfamiliar with the area, feel free to let your mind wander while I give directions and transport information. Cheers.
* BY CAR - Good luck getting a parking space. I honestly would not even attempt getting here by car. The streets are narrow and everyone who lives here seems to think their life depends on having a vehicle. If necessity calls for it, then I'm sorry but you will be driving around for a bit looking for a space in one of the surrounding residential streets.
* BY BUS - If travelling by bus from Glasgow City Centre you'd be best getting a 62, 9, or a 16 as these will take you along Dumbarton Road through Partick. You will pass the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries (on the right), the Transport Museum (on the left), the Western Infirmary (on the right), and then the bottom of Byres Road (across from which, to your left, is the Three Judges pub).
Get off the bus at about this point. If you've gone past the Tesco Express on the left hand side, don't worry - you can walk back, it's not far.
* BY SUBWAY - If travelling on Glasgow's Subway, get off at Kelvinhall Station. Once you emerge from the station into the slighty off-putting underpass-type-thing, turn right to head onto Dumbarton Road and turn right again then start walking.
* BY TRAIN - Get a train to Partick (check with the ticket staff or look at the notice boards to make sure you get on one with the correct destination). Then you can walk but it may be quicker just getting the Subway to travel that whole one stop to Kelvinhall. If you're happy to walk, then exit the station and turn left to get onto Dumbarton Road, then turn right and start walking. It'll take about 10 minutes but don't worry, we'll wait for you.
Alrighty... it's not quite planes, trains and automobiles but I think we're okay. Train, subway and bus folk: if all has gone well, you will find yourself heading towards the Quarter Gill pub at the bottom corner of Hyndland Street. It's across from the aforementioned Tesco Express and a Comet electrical shop. I know, cultural.
Make your merry way up Hyndland Street, where you will pass the Rio Cafe on your left (the only pub I've found so far that sells Desperado... god bless the creator of tequila beer) and a basketball court on your right. Keep going and you'll come to a church with a forked road going left and one going right.
Troops, we're heading to the left to get onto Hyndland Road. Keep going until you see branded parasols with wooden outdoor benches and tables. Congratulate yourselves and each other for finding the place.
Now, I know I could give directions to get here from Byres Road, but quite frankly I got lost when I tried the first time. Which doesn't bode well considering how long I lived in the West End for, so what hope do you guys have? I know it's essentially a straight line along Highburgh Road (Tennent's Bar is on the corner) before turning left after the wee park, but I still managed to lose my bearings. If you're feeling brave, check out Google map first. Otherwise, trust me on this.
+ MORE INFORMATION +
93 Hyndland Street
G11 5PX / G11 5PU (they can't decide it seems!)
0141 357 5825
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