You may have noticed that Glasgow sits astride a fairly big river – one of Scotland's longest. It also has a maritime history, facing out to the wide Atlantic Ocean. Go back as far as the Dark Ages and Glasgow's patron saint and founder, Mungo, even performed a miracle involving a salmon fished from the Clyde thereby saving the life of Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde; it's a complicated tale of jealousy and intrigue but you can find various versions online.
The upshot of Mungo's intervention is that Glasgow's official crest features that miraculous fish to this very day. So although Glasgow might not be a fishing port, a centre for fish processing or even on the coast, its founding mythos bred seafood into its genetic code and it currently boasts a complement of fish restaurants that are collectively quite fantastic, each individually interesting in its own way. So head to the Glasgow restaurants below and raise a glass) to some seriously good seafood. And if you're not partial to fishy things? How about Indian? Or somewhere cheap?
Glasgow seafood restaurants
A contemporary West End venue, Crabshakk isn't big but it sometimes looks as if it has managed to fit in more customers than the laws of physics should allow. With bare stone, exposed fittings and some snackers sitting at the bar, it looks very much like the casual, quality diner it aimed to be at launch in 2009. People come for the crab, langoustine, lobster, mussels or oysters; there will also be a simple pasta dish involving clams, basic fish and chips, bisque, chowder and more; rump steak for the red meat fans, an appropriate risotto for vegetarians. When serving up the more impressive shellfish dishes, like fruits de mer or whole crab, Crabshakk creates a definite wow factor.
South of the river but next to Shields Road subway station, the Fish People Café sits in part of the city where you might not expect to find a decent restaurant – but it is exactly that and well worth seeking out. The interior is stylish, there is marble, a subtle colour scheme and a menu that mixes classic starters like Cullen Skink or half a dozen oysters with more adventurous options such as masala-dressed Portland crab with avocado, lime and mango. Mains could be as straightforward as lunchtime fish and chips, as inventive as tandoori sea bass with curry oil and basmati in the evening.
Gamba's fish soup is a wonder of the Glasgow restaurant trade: crab, coriander, ginger and prawn dumplings. The last time we looked it was £10 for a bowl and aficionados still see that as excellent value for money. Of course when you visit this discreetly lush basement venue in the city centre you are not compelled to have the fish soup as a starter. You could have smoked salmon, brown shrimp coleslaw and mango instead – or sardine pâté with basil, lemon and rye crackers. Your main could be a half lobster thermidor and chips, or whole roasted sea bass with red peppers, chopped prawns and pine kernels. The standard of cooking here is among the best in the city. You should still try the soup though.
In brief: Café Gandolfi on Albion Street has been a legend among Glasgow eateries since opening way back in 1979. Over the decades it has added to the business: this fishy sister restaurant appeared a few doors along in 2007. The décor is sharper and more modern than the original Gandolfi but the menu generally takes produce from Scottish waters and doesn't overcomplicate matters: grilled langoustine from Skye with salsa verde, oysters from Cumbrae with shallot vinegar, scallops from Mull with Stornoway black pudding, pear and cider cream. On the à la carte you find recognisable dishes like fish pie, fish and chips, or smoked haddock with chive mash, poached egg and mustard sauce.
The Two Fat Ladies is a very good seafood restaurant, trading since 1989 from premises on Dumbarton Road. Over the years its success and popularity saw it expand; in 2007 it acquired the Buttery, to create Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery. The interior is classic Caledonian country house style with dark wood and muted lighting while the menu is Modern European making the most of Scottish seafood. Three courses might feature lobster and ricotta ravioli with light scampi and dill cream sauce; scallops with cauliflower purée, crayfish salad and coral powder as a main, or whole grilled lemon sole with orange, coriander and chilli butter; a warm chocolate and ginger pot with toasted almond ice cream for dessert.