The Glasgow food scene is buzzing right now and diners are being spoiled for choice with more and more new restaurants opening in and around the city, adding to what is already a fantastic selection of top other venues. As if this wasn't enough, there are also some cool pop-up events happening on a regular basis including the recent Flock Pop-Up hosted by Chef John Traynor that myself and Nicola were fortunate enough to attend. Add the upcoming Glasgow Restaurant Festival to this and you've got a whole lot of dining going on. However, one of the most eagerly awaited pop-up events was held last weekend when the team behind Section33 staged The TakeOver.
The format of the previous two Section33 events was a selection of small plate served up in two iconic Glasgow buildings, the first in Govanhill Swimming Pool and the second in the Britannia Panopticon. This time the team took over the old Sammy Dow's bar on Nithsdale Road in the southside of the city and replaced the small plates with a fine dining menu that showcased local produce and the cooking skills of Chef Chris Naylor and his kitchen team. As with previous Section33 events, the team would be be making a charitable donation to a local charity and as the venue has been a key part of the local community for over 200 so it was fitting that the Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council were the recipients this time round.
One thing that didn't change though was the guerilla marketing approach that Section33 have become (in)famous for. The social media interaction went through the roof in the weeks leading up to The TakeOver and this coupled with an entry into street graffiti, meant that there couldn't have been many people in Glasgow who didn't know what was going on.
The tickets for the third instalment of Section33 were £45 per person which covered five courses plus two glasses of matched wine as well as a welcome cocktail crafted using Eden Mill Gin. The cocktails were a great way to start the evening, Nicola loved her Bramble whilst my Negroni was as good as I've tasted. The two matched wines in the ticket price would be served with the Venison main and the dessert but for those looking to take this fine dining experience to another level, there was a wine flight available to cover the first three courses at a cost of £15 per person. I thought that this was a great idea and excellent value for money too.
Fresh baked bread and iced water were offered as soon as we were seated and as we worked our way through our cocktails, we were able to have a quick chat with Kyle Steel, the creative genius behind Section33, who talked us through the menu as well as giving us a few titbits of info regarding future projects that he is hoping to bring to Glasgow.
The lighting inside the venue wasn't the greatest but I did manage to get some OK photos. The rest of the food photos were supplied courtesy of Section33 but I can honestly say that every dish looked exactly same as the official shots.
With our cocktails almost finished, our first course arrived. This simple dish of haggis, beet cured smoked salmon & Mull Cheddar was a great way to open a five course tasting menu. The spicy haggis was coated n breadcrumbs to create crispy bonbons, deep-fried Mull Cheddar beignets were well cooked and really brought out the best of the cheese, while the beet cured smoked salmon delivered a proper taste sensation. Each of these appetisers were big on flavour and we could easily have eaten a plateful of the delicious morsels. The matched wine with this course was a wonderful barrel fermented Chardonnay from Argentina packed tons of rich mango and banana flavour that balance the big flavours on the plate.
Next up was a pretty salad of Katie Rodgers Knockraich Crowdie, oats, pistachio and pomegranate, West End Honey. This was a wonderful balance of sweet and sharp, soft and crunchy. We've only recently discovered the amazing Crowdie that Katie Rodgers produces but it is already one of our favourite cheeses.
This course was matched with a very nice L'Hospitalet Voigner from the south of France which had a just enough oaky taste to pull all the flavours of the salad together. This was my favourite wine of the evening.
After a short break, our third course oo Islay Crab Verrine, compressed tomato, pickled cucumber and seaweed salt arrived. We both love crab and this dish was a joy to eat. A perfect balance of texture and taste and although there were some pretty big flavour in the dish, the sweet crab meat was never overpowered. The matched wine for this course was a crisp Domingo Martin Albariño from the Rais Baixas region southwestern Spain.
So far, every course had been impressive and the main dish of Roast Fillet of Red deer, braised haunch, potato galette, parsnip and king cabbage would make sure that we would be talking about Section33 for some time. Myself and Nicola have eaten a few Michelin meals in recent times and this dish was every bit as good as those. The venison was cooked to perfection (both ways) and melted in the mouth, the carrot, cabbage, parsnip and potato rounded this dish off. In fact! could have eaten a bowlful of the creamy garlicky potato galette. Everything had a reason to be on the plate and helped this dish to be somethings that I will remember for a long time. The matched wine for the venison was another winner too - the Riva Leone Barbaresco was delicious. Deep red in colour with lots of dried berry flavour and a little smokiness, this was a great match for the venison.
After four stunning courses of savoury, it was time for some sweet and the Heather Scented Panna Cotta, Eden Mill gin raspberry sorbet, teacake delivered in spades. I'll be honest and say that I struggled to pick up much honey from the panna cotta or a great deal of gin in the raspberry sorbet, but that doesn't matter because the panna cotta was wonderfully creamy and had the perfect amount of wobble, while the sorbet was one of the most intense raspberry flavoured things I've ever eaten. The teacake was a little nod to the other biscuit based teacake made Uddingston. The soft biscuit base and sweet marshmallow fluff centre were encase under a crispy dark chocolate which was balanced by the sharp raspberry sorbet. The final matched wine was a rich Secua Chardonnay Dulce from Finca de Estacada in La Mancha, Spain. We're coming round to dessert wines and this one was packed with apricot and peach notes that worked well with the creamy pudding.
After our quality feast, we relaxed with freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee from local coffee roaster, 'It All Started Here'. As fine dining goes, the food and drink served up was as good as we've had and although we dining in an 'old man's pub', the service and overall atmosphere made for a great evening. We had a welcome cocktail, five fantastic courses with five glasses of wine each and coffee to finish with the total bill for two coming in at £124.00 and we both agree that we had great value for money and can't wait for the chance to get along to the next Section33 Pop-Up.
Fortunately, I don't need to wait too long as Section33 have recently announced that they will be popping up at one of the secret dining events at the forthcoming Glasgow Restaurant Festival. You can find out more ant the event or to book tickets at http://glasgowrestaurantfestival.co.uk/secret-dining/