Whenever anyone asks me if I can recommend a good seafood restaurant in Glasgow, I always struggle. Not because Glasgow doesn't have good seafood restaurants but because myself and Nicola don't normally do seafood in Glasgow. Well, that was until we were invited along to Mussel Inn on Glasgow's Hope Street. I was well aware of Mussel Inn but had wrongly assumed that it was a restaurant that is exclusively mussels! How wrong was I?
Having walked past the entrance to the Mussel Inn on many occasion, I had imagined that the interior would be cosy and compact but when we arrived for dinner, I was wrong for a second time! The restaurant stretched back for what seemed like miles, cool tiled floors, lowered lighting and a funky mezzanine level helped create a welcoming dining area. We arrived early enough to be seated at a light airy table towards the front of the restaurant but even on a midweek night, it didn't take too long for the restaurant to start to fill up nicely.
As you would expect from a seafood restaurant, the menu revolves heavily around the fruits of the sea. Nicola was spoilt for choice with smoked salmon, crab and scallops all shouting for her attention but in the end she ordered the seafood chowder with crusty bread. You would expect a seafood restaurant to serve up a great chowder and Mussel Inn didn't disappoint. The chowder was packed with plenty of chunks of tender salmon, cod and smoked haddock swimming in a rich, creamy sauce. Nicola is a big fan of chowder and reckons that this was one of the best that she's had.
I love mussels but rarely order them when I have the chance. Usually there's something else on the menu that grabs my attention a little more than the meaty molluscs but there was no way that I could accept an invitation to Mussel Inn and not try their signature dish so for my own starter I opted for a half kilo of mussels cooked with garlic, chilli and smoked cheddar. The plump mussels were deliciously fluffy with an almost earthy mushroom flavour whilst the cooking liquor at the bottom of the pan was a meal in itself, rich with garlic and spicy from the chilli but the flavour from the smoked cheddar was the star of the show. I could have dipped my crusty bread in the spicy, cheesy sauce all night!
Nicola had managed to avoid ordering scallops for her starter but the lure of the main dish of pan-fried King Scallops with smoked haddock, marscapone and pea risotto was too strong, so her decision was very easy. I have food envy a lot and tonight was was probably one of the worst cases yet. This dish was a joy! Four huge, perfectly seared scallops (complete with their soft coral - a delicacy in some parts), sat on top of one of the best restaurant risottos that we have tasted. The risotto was light and fluffy, creamy from the marscapone but packed with the sweet flavours of fresh peas. The addition of a Parmesan crisp helped give the dish a nice texture balance whilst bringing a little saltiness to the dish.
Having managed to get my mussel fix earlier, I ordered the half lobster Thermidor with roasted new potato chunky chips from the specials board. Nicola had a enjoyed a brilliant recreation of lobster Thermidor just a few nights before at Gusto on Bothwell Street and I fancied some of the same. Thermidor sauce is one of life's luxuries - a wonderful blend of butter, shallots, mustard, cream, parsley and fish stock which is often enhanced by the addition of Gruyère cheese. The Thermidor sauce at Mussel Inn didn't have the depth of flavour that I was looking for but it was still a deliciously rich combination of salty butter and nutty, creamy cheese that worked wonderfully with the sweet and tender lobster meat. After all, butter, cheese and lobster - what's not to like?
After two hearty courses neither of us could manage a dessert although I was almost tempted by the chocolate, orange and almond torte but instead I rounded off my meal with a wonderfully nutty espresso, in fact, one of the best coffees that I've tasted in quite some time.
So, what if someone asked me now if I can recommend a good seafood restaurant in Glasgow? Well, that's easy! With a menu to suit pescatarians, vegetarians and carnivores, there's something for everyone and I would have no hesitation in recommending Mussel Inn.
We were invited along to Mussel Inn in return for review and despite the fact that our food and drink were complimentary, my review is an honest account of our evening. We had a fantastic night and look forward to getting back again to work our way through the menu.
Keep up to date with Mussel Inn on Facebook or if this review has whet your appetite, you can book online here. Oh, don't forget that if you're ever through in the capital, Edinburgh has its very own branch of Mussel Inn on Rose Street where you can enjoy the same great value food and drink.