Monday, October 10, 2011

Fish Tea, Stravaigin, and a See's Candy look-alike

Scottish Food, Installment 3 of 3
And here I've got my final three food experiences, all in Glasgow, and all pretty positive (2 out of the 3 also had some annoyances associated).
These first couple pictures are of the "Fish Tea" I ordered at The People's Palace. And while it might sound like a bad Asian packaging description of tea, it actually meant 'tea' in the afternoon-meal sense, and an afternoon meal that included fish. With chips, of course.
I ordered a caramel shortbread along with the 'Tea' and boy, was I rewarded. The little annoyances here were that 1) the greenhouse felt like it had heat piped in from somewhere, and was uncomfortably warm, such that my shortbread got all melty (which was fine, but so did I), and 2) that they lost my ticket for the fish and chips part, and I had to go back up and reinstate my order. They felt bad for losing it and so gave me a free bottle of water (and I was already carrying one, so my backpack got pretty heavy, but I'm not looking any gift horses in the mouth). The caramel shortbread was dee-lish. And very worthy of being reproduced in the States- Go To!

The second experience catalogued here was undilutedly fantastic. I went to a restaurant called Stravaigin (the original, in the Kelvinbridge neighborhood, I think; there are two). If you visit their site, right now at least, they have a picture up of the very same entree- the hake fillet salad! But mine shows the architecture a bit better, I think...

 The restaurant, servers, lighting, other eaters... all was lovely and relaxing and amiable. I liked the iron stairs up with lights, the fun second story that overlooked the first, and the fun architectural finishes that made the place seem magical and whimsical, not modern or sleek or posed. It was a great place, and has a fitting name for one like me: 'Stravaig’ means ‘to wander’ and that is exactly what I enjoyed doing while in Scotland.
The final experience was part of an homage to Charles Rennie Macintosh, an architect famous in his hometown of Glasgow, and an artist well-known internationally for those interested in art history. I liked the part of his work that was all about an organic whole, form serving function (Arts & Crafts), natural forms being used (Art Nouveau), nothing thrown in for no reason (Modernism but not the Jetsons kind). It's like smart growth for buildings and furniture!
Anyway, he's famous for designing the Glasgow School of Art and the Willow Tea Rooms, which of course I had plunked on my list as a Must-See. Tea? Scones? Art Nouveau? Yes, please.

This is the dining room, accessible weirdly through a jewelry store on the ground floor...
And look! As I was leaving, this is the line that lined the whole stairwell! (Pays to be an early bird...)

I had the choice of the open-center room or the Room De Luxe, so guess what I chose? Why not, after all. It didn't cost any more. It had the windows out onto the street, which I thought would be nice, but... I was plagued my whole luncheon by a very bad saxophone player busking across the street. Grr. He had no rhythm, which made his rendition of Moon River very jarring. Ah well. After I exited, I got to hear a very talented bagpiper... and the tea was lovely: finger sandwiches (crustless!), a meringue tart, jam and double cream for a scone. Yum.
Why can't we get cream like that here??

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