The Red Onion Glasgow restaurant is one of those places that will always fit snugly into any list of restaurants you draw up when deciding where you'll be eating out in Glasgow. Have you ever sat there in satisfying agreement that you're going to head out for something to eat, a wee treat to yourself for all that hard work or sight-seeing, but then it all goes sour because you don't really know what you feel like or where to go?
Happens to me all the time.
This is why I've included the Red Onion restaurant in my Top Ten Glasgow Restaurants section, because having this place in the list is like having a fail-safe mechanism when no-one can decide, and when it may all end up in tears and fist fights.
Well, take one look at the menu and you'll realise you can't properly tag it with any one country's flag. John Quigley, the owner and chef, has been known and loved around these here parts for years, but also internationally as an in-demand private celebrity chef, a job that took him all around the globe and back again.
And it's pretty clear that he's the type of fella who's decided to take a wee slice of wherever he goes and blend it in with all the other slices he's collected, to create one hell of a varied menu.
So the end result? If you're stuck between going out for a Scottish, Italian, Oriental or Whatever meal, Red Onion Glasgow will dive in between the lot and save the day, as you'll arrive and be faced with not just a choice of global favourites, but more a blendof diverse cultures in each delicately prepared dish.
As for the surroundings and atmosphere, you'll find Red Onion Glasgow pretty laid back for a Glasgow restaurant. From the bustle of the City Centre, you walk into the place through a swanky curtain and (in the style of all those tacky TV holiday reviews of old - I can't resist it!) are transported immediately to the relaxed warmth of elegance. Yeah, doesn't really sound like me does it?
Hotels near Red Onion Glasgow Restaurant
It really is pretty snazzy though. The owners have managed to come up with a design which is both contemporary (particularly with the clinical layout and the brilliantly huge slanted mirror on the wall) and traditional (with an old favourite of mine, the roaring fireplace, although I'd like to think they'll puff that out in the summer!). Given that it's situated in the heart of the City, you'll see that Red Onion Glasgow is busy and fairly noisy sometimes, but you don't have to raise your voice to be heard around the table, and the privacy that gives you makes it all the more cosy for a good wee chat.
Unsurprisingly, this place features in my Wee Glesca guide to the City, which you can download or pick up today.
I've found also that the service here suits me perfectly. Any time we've gone to Red Onion Glasgow we've not been in a rush to get somewhere after dinner, so the fact that we're always given plenty of time between courses to digest the food and have a natter is just fantastic.
I really hate it when you go to a restaurant and it's like a factory line - you finish one course, it's whipped away from you and the next is smacked down on your table. So it's nothing like that at Red Onion Glasgow. It's billed here as being 'casual gourmet dining'. Well, I don't know what you call it but as long as this place remains open, it'll have a place in my top ten.
Brendan and Tracey at Red Onion Restaurant
Tracey and I went to Red Onion restaurant recently, together with our mates Laura and also Brendan who was up from London (ah, whaurever eh is, ye cannae take the Glesga oot the boy!).
Despite the level of catch-up patter throughout the night, I don't have difficulty in recalling at least what I had. I started with grilled asparagus with soft fried egg and toasted goat cheese (unusual I know, but v. tasty nevertheless), moved onto a basic but hefty sirloin steak and chips, and finished with a wee bowl of chocolate heaven. De-lish, although they had to roll me out the place at the end of the night!
Like I say, pretty basic but that's what is satisfying about this place - it's not pretentious at all, and in the menu you'll find the ol' steak and chips sitting quite comfortably next to something like finnan haddie, mash, poached egg and mornay sauce, or nasi-goreng, spicy fried rice with chicken, shrimp, bacon and soft fried egg.
As for the other three, I was that busy tucking into my own feedbag of gratification to remember what they'd ordered. That said, I'm pretty sure Tracey got the grilled seabass fillet with citrus cous cous, shaved fennel salad and a hot and sour dressing, or was it just plain old fish and chips? As I say, faced with grub like that and distracted by the good company, it's difficult to remember - I really should take a notepad with me when I do these reviews!
Laura & I at Red Onion Glasgow
What I do remember from the menu (which of course changes regularly), is that in the starters there wasfrench onion soup with toasted cheese (none of yer tiny croutons here!); duck and ginger spring rolls with sweet soy; and sarlar smoked salmon, watercress and granny smith salad with lime crème fraiche dressing. There were some impressive-looking salads on offer, including one with cold cut roast chicken, avocado, chargrilled bacon and honey mustard dressing; and sandwiches like open crayfish, avocado and marie rose dressing on focaccia.
The main meals you could expect include inventive little things like five spiced gressingham duck breast with caramelised sweet potatoes, pak choy and shitake mushroom jus; cassoulet of toulouse sausage confit duck and pork belly with endive salad; or roasted shellfish spaghetti with king prawns, lobster, scallops, mussels and lemon, garlic and parsley butter; with sides of skinny fries or wok seared greens.
Topped off with desserts like chocolate and mascarpone cheesecake with bruleed bananas, or frozen raspberries and warm white chocolate sauce, you'll be hard-pushed to squeeze in even the espresso at the end.
So to be honest, it's the type of menu that satisfies your taste buds whenever your taste buds think they can't be satisfied, whenever they speak up and tell you that you'd be as well staying in and chewing the plastic off your TV rather than spending the rest of the night choosing a restaurant. Red Onion Glasgow will make them think again about that, as combined with the warm and relaxed surroundings, you'll find here as I do that choosing something to eat when you just can't decide will always be apleasure rather than a pressure (and hey don't worry there, I promise I'll cut that out for the next review!).
Fairly easy to find the place, although as it's a fair walk up the hill from either Queen Street Station or Central Station, you'd be better taking the car or a taxi. Taking the car you can normally find a space to park in the streets around the restaurant, although during the day you'll have to head to a nearby car park.
Have a look at this handy map and you should find it nae bother. Click on the tab you see on the map to get directions from where you're going.
For the avoidance of doubt though, the restaurant is at 247 West Campbell Street, Glasgow, which is just round the corner from Bath Street and West Regent Street. As usual, follow the nose - always works when you get hungry enough!
Again, not that difficult. Simply phone the place on and do so a fair bit in advance to make sure you get a table, as it gets pretty busy once all the nearby offices shut up shop around about dinner time. You can also visit their website at red-onion.co.uk/ or follow them on Twitter.
You can request a seat up in the mezzanine if you'd prefer a good view over the rest of the restaurant, but I prefer being down below, as there's more space and I've found that for whatever reason, you get served more quickly. Either way, it's all good.