REVIEW: So L.A. Glasgow
9 months AGOIain Fenwick
So L.A. in Mitchell Street in Glasgow hasn’t been open long, but there has been quite a buzz surrounding it. I have been looking to get through to Glasgow and check it out for a while now, and finally last week I made it. I do tend to get excited when I go to review a new restaurant, but this time it was different. I am a big fan of Rusk & Rusk restaurants and so I was very excited but also slightly apprehensive, what if it didn’t live up to the standard set by its sister restaurants, what if the Californian style menu was a reach too far, what if it simply wasn’t very good, what would I do!
I was in Glasgow for the day and so booked myself in for some lunch. I arrived around noon on Thursday, and as you might expect the restaurant was fairly quiet which suited me, as I could relax, wander around, take some pics and enjoy my meal without bothering anyone. The first thing you notice when you walk in to So L.A. is it is quite dark, very ambient lighting with a deep purple haze and many plants adding a contrast green. It’s very cool and drips Rusk & Rusk. Alana was looking after me and welcomed me with a wonderful smile, showed me to my booth and immediately brought the menus and my water over, then I was left for a moment to take it all in. You have to hand it to James and Louise Rusk, they are absolutely in touch with the Glasgow style and So L.A. is uber stylish.
Although it was lunch, I felt it necessary to try a cocktail, it would be rude not to, so I ordered a Margarita to help me embrace the mood. As I browsed the menu there were a few items that you might find at the other R&R restaurants such as Chateaubriand and Bone in Prime Rib which they do very well. However, I was there to enjoy a flavour of L.A. and so opted for a starter of ‘Pork Belly & Baby Octopus, Soy, Lemongrass and Thai Basil’ and a main course of ‘Seared Tuna Tataki Salad, Chilled Vermicelli Rice Noodles, Deep Fried Broccoli, Watermelon Rind and Soy Glaze’.
As I waited for my starter, I had a few little tasters, aptly named ‘Something Naughty’! A ‘Tagarashi Oyster’ some ‘Cocktail Sausages with Lobster Mayo’, ‘Deep Fried Cauliflower Florets in a Red Dragon Sauce’ and ‘Confit Duck Spring Rolls with a Hoisin & Peanut Dip’. My plan was to have a little taste of each so I wasn’t overindulging, but that plan didn’t really work out, as soon as I pushed them to the side, I was dragging them back in front of me! Each of them was delicious, but the Cauliflower Florets were particularly yummy! A lovely crunch with a beautifully sweet sauce that had a touch of heat.
My starter arrived shortly after, two of my favourite things, pork belly and octopus. What I was looking for was a beautifully moist bit of pork with a crispy skin and lovely soft and tender octopus. I know they only buy quality produce, so if the execution is right then the dish should sing. The immediate impact from the smell brought a smile to my face. The sauce was very zingy which dominated the flavour of the dish. The Asian influence of the lemongrass, soy and basil gave a beautiful mixture of sweet, citrus and a very subtle hint of mint. Mixed with the delicate flavour of the octopus and saltiness of the pork, it all came together very well. The crunch of the pork skin was so important too, the texture contrast, particularly with the softness of the octopus added as much to the dish as the sauce, a fantastic starter. My only gripe was that it was served in quite a deep bowl, so purely from a visual point of view it wasn’t as wow as it would be, served in something a little shallower.
Thankfully there were a few minutes between my starter and main, so I sipped on my Margarita and just enjoyed the peace and reflected on what I had eaten up to this point. When my main course did arrive, there was a moment of wow, it looks amazing, coupled with wow, how the hell am I going to eat all of this! It really was a stunning looking dish, fantastic colours and very inviting. The tuna had been seared perfectly and was beautifully fresh. It was actually the ideal choice having had quite a bit of food already, tuna tataki is very refreshing to eat. The tuna is light, the watermelon rind and soy glaze was again refreshing, and of course wonderfully sweet. Vermicelli noodles are absolutely the right accompaniment and the clever pieces of fried broccoli to add a little bite, meant that every mouthful was a blend of sweet, salty and fresh. I must admit I was struggling to finish it, but that was nothing to do with the quality of the plate, merely the size of the portion. Of course, had I not indulged with the naughty little bites then I would have polished it off without any problem. It really was a beautiful bit of cooking and very much fitting the So L.A. image.
Alana was quick to offer the dessert menu, but I waved my napkin in defeat. dessert must wait for another day. Any anxiety I had was eliminated pretty much as soon as I walked in the door. I embraced the So L.A. experience and enjoyed every minute of it. Alana was perfect, so friendly, so knowledgeable and so enthusiastic about So L.A. It may be new, but there isn’t much that needs to be worked on. Chef John Molloy has been with the group for a long time, he has delivered a cracking menu and the execution was bang on. I am back there again on Friday, this time with a friend, and maybe I will manage to leave some room for dessert! To sum up, Rusk & Rusk have done it again, they have been bold, taken a risk, brought something new and exciting to Glasgow and have pulled it off. You should go!
You can look at the menus and book So L.A. Glasgow here: https://bit.ly/2IZ3en9
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