A few weeks ago myself and Nicola made a trip into Glasgow to check out some of the early Summer sales. We hadn't made any plans for lunch but not wanting it to be a hugely expensive affair, I turned to restaurant booking site 5pm.co.uk to see if I could source somewhere close by that was serving up a cheeky lunchtime deal. We were spoilt for choice with tons of deals within a short distance of our city centre location and after a look at the menu at City Merchant, we booked a table for a little later in the afternoon.
An hour later we were seated at a window table looking over what can only be described as one of the best value lunchtime menus that I've seen in a long time! The standard deal is two courses for £9.99 however as we had booked through 5pm, we also had a glass of house wine included in the price. City Merchant is probably best known as a seafood restaurant but the lunch menu still has plenty of choice for those that aren't huge fans of fish. The biggest problem that myself and Nicola had was deciding what to choose but after our waitress talked us through the menu and the specials, we were soon ready to order.
Nicola ordered the Cajun Salmon Chowder from the special board and was thrilled by her choice. (So thrilled that she is still talking about it to this day) The thick creamy soup was full of flavour and packed with tons of Cajun spiced salmon as well as some prawns and white fish too.
I had ordered the pork belly terrine and beetroot relish (which is hiding under the toasted brioche). The large slice of terrine was cooked well and flavoured with plenty of herbs, the earthy beetroot relish worked well with the sweet pork and helped add a much needed layer of texture although For my own taste, I would have preferred the relish to have been slightly sharper in flavour. I enjoyed my started but I have to admit that I was envious of Nicola's chowder on the other side of the table.
As with most lunchtime deals, the tables are turned around pretty quickly so it wasn't too long before our mains arrived. Nicola had ordered the slow cooked shoulder of lamb which came with Isreali couscous, pea shoots and salsa verde. The lamb was well flavoured and very tender, falling apart at the slightest resistance. Isreali couscous is larger than in size and has a different texture to regular couscous with a nutty texture that worked well with the well seasoned lamb. A sharp salsa verde added another dimension and helped bring the dish together.
My own main course was a roasted Coley with crushed peas, smoked Morteaux sausage, sautéed potatoes and citrus cream. This was a clever plate of food with lots of flavours complimenting each other. The fish was seasoned and cooked well, working well with the smokiness of the Motreaux sausage (which I would have liked more of) whilst the sautéed potatoes, peas and citrus cream sauce helped balance the dish.
With two courses behind us, we didn't really have room for dessert although we did see a couple of tables get puddings served and at £3.50, they looked well worth the money.
The last time that I was at City Merchant was over 20 years ago but based on this visit, the gap between our next visit will definitely not be that long! Myself and Nicola still can't get over the range of choice, quality of food and value for money that we had and are already looking for another reason to get back in to town so that we can go for lunch again.
I think it's safe to say that we aren't the only ones wowed by the lunchtime deal at City Merchant as the restaurant was very busy all through the lunch service with almost everyone on the set menu deal. So if your looking for great value and top quality cooking, City Merchant is definitely somewhere that you should add to your list. (Remember to book through 5pm to get a glass of wine included in the deal)