“ Address: 5 and 9 Byres Rd / Glasgow / G11 5RD / Scotland / Tel: 0141 334 7277 „
Glasgow's Byres Road and the surrounding area has a thriving restaurant scene far more sophisticated than battered Mars Bars and deep fried everything. When in Glasgow recently I met up with some friends for a catch up . Not living in Glasgow I got friends to suggest venues for our meet up and I decided on a relative newcomer to the Glasgow restaurant scene The Two Figs.
The Two Figs is a restaurant com bar cum cafe at the bottom end of Byres Road. Owned by a team who also manage two other successful eateries in Glasgow it opened in August 2009 to critical acclaim. My friend suggested it because she had heard very good things about it. I decided on it , as its dinner menu was eclectic with traditional favourites such as fish and chips and burgers with some more exotic dishes thrown in for good measure. Its not an extensive menu but there really is something for everyone. I also chose it as it had some interesting vegetarian options. There's no mushroom strogonoff here thank goodness. I also thought the prices seemed not extortionate at about £4 for a starter and just under the £10 mark for a main course.
I had actually visited the restaurant in its previous incarnation as a bar called The Dining Room years ago but do not remember much about it a all. On arriving at the venue this time we were seated in the restaurant area which was all bare brick, stripped floorboards and figs and olive motifs s to give it a rustic feel. Its in two halves I believe, but only saw the one half which was quite small and narrow. There was our table and another one down one side of the wall then along the other side a number of smaller booths Once seared it was time to peruse the menu. The Two Figs is one of these versatile places that suit all your dining needs from breakfast, brunch, lunch to dinner. The breakfast menu sounded good with all the staples such as cooked breakfast and French Toast alongside a breakfast thali (assorted curry) for the adventurous at weekend brunch time. However it was dinnertime so to the dinner and all day menus to tempt and tantalise us and t drinks were required as choosing a meal is thirsty work.
I was tempted by their cocktails as they do a short list of fairly classic cocktails (no garish colours or here) for £6.00 which is not cheap but no too expensive at all. I was also pleased to see locally produced micro brewed beers on the menu alongside more familiar names. I had a couple of pints of Saint Mungo from the West brewery in the Gorbals This was a lovely malty, slightly sweet and fruity fairly dark ale and was very tasty. The prices for beer were around the £3.20 mark so almost London prices but I don't mind paying that for a decent pint I can't get elsewhere. If I have the choice
I tend to have a dessert over a starter but everyone else seemed to be having one . One friend had the deviled whitebait whilst another had the halluomi and cauliflower fritters. These sounded lovely and I was tempted by the golden brown circular fritters but had had a gilled halloumi salad for lunch. The boys both selected the soup of the day which came in huge deep bowls. Unfortunately they did not automatically come with a spoon which we had to ask for. My boyfriend had the sausage, mushroom and leek soup , which he declared to be an English breakfast in a soup. The other soup the vegetarian soup was carrot, chili and coconut soup and apparently was heavy handed with the chili thus quite hot. One friend decided to be saintly so just had a side salad. I decided to have the rather sophisticated and foodie sounding warm puy lentil salad. This turned out to be a bowl of nicely cooked brown lentils with chunks of tomato, onions and pine nuts. It reminded me of a tomato daal without the spices or a chili with lentil and no spices. I found ti pretty filling but a bit bland.
Decision decisions decisions. What to have for a main course? I was tempted by the Two Figs Curry and Chickpea Biryani but had had curry the night before. We saw a portion of fish and Chips on another table and they looked magnificent with a huge chunk of fish. Two Figs does comfort food pretty well. In the end both myself and my boyfriend selected the haddock, salmon and prawn fish pie. This came in a deep bowl with a fluffy layer of pea mash artfully topping it almost like the cream you get on a hot chocolate but with peas instead of marshmallows. Underneath the mash was a veritable soup of creamy white wine sauce, which was better eaten with a spoon rather than a fork. I was impressed with the quality of the fish in the pie. I found several large chunk of the fish and the prawns were king prawns rather the the tiddlers you ind in some fish pies. What I did find a bit odd was the whole baby shallots or were they pickled onions I found in the soup. It was almost like a lucky dip diving my fork or spoon into the depths of the pie The portion was a big enough size and we struggled to finish our soupy pies. The other four all chose the lamb shawarma which was an open lamb kebab on flat bread which seemed to go down well with everybody.
All main dishes were served with the choice of chips, rice or a side salad. Having mash on the pie I thought the rice or chips would be carbohydrate overload but I did have a sneaky taste of someone else's chips and they were thick, golden and nicely seasoned with a herby hint to them. Ideally some mixed vegetables would have complimented my dish but this was not on offer so I took th salad which really impressed me. Salads can be hit and miss with most consisting of not much more than some mixed leaves and some soggy cucumber and tomato. This salad arriving in the ubiquitous bowl had a nice mix of taste, textures and colours from the orange of the roast sweet potato to the greenness of the rocket and the crumbliness of chickpeas and hints of sesame seed from the tahini and coriander dressing.
After two courses we were all pretty full so no desserts were requested only coffees for some of us. Its a shame, as the desserts did sound nice. I particularly fancied the walnut and cinnamon meringue with spiced rhubarb but that would have been sheer gluttony.
All in all the bill came to £136 for six starters and main courses, four and a half pints of beer, two cocktails, soft drinks an coffees afterwards.
The one thing that marred the restaurant would be the service. There was nothing spectacularly wrong with it but it was a bit slow. We did have to wait quite a while for both our courses and had to ask fo silly little things like spoons! This time between courses was ok fur us, as we were busy chatting but it could be tad slow if you had less time for example going on a show afterward.
I enjoyed my meal at the Two Figs. It was good hearty comfort food. However with competition being so fierce with a number of good quality restaurants to choose from I think I will try another place t the next time I'm up in Glasgow
5 and 9 Byres Rd
Glasgow G11 5RD
0141 334 7277