Restaurant review

Celentano’s, Glasgow: ‘A delicious hodgepodge’ – restaurant review | Food

There are few things nicer than a cloister around the grounds of Glasgow Cathedral on one of the crisp and bright first autumn mornings of the year. On the way to eat at Celentano, the air was cold enough to make your cheeks blush, while the skyline above the necropolis, the nearby Victorian cemetery, was a dreamy blue. The necropolis, perched on a low hill, is the arched Gothic backdrop that Whitby wishes it had. Yes Goths love Whitby, but let’s face it, it’s a seaside town and just like Daleks and Triffids, Goths do poorly on the sand.

These were the kind of thoughts I had fun with as I sat alone in a cemetery, waiting for the nearby Italian-inspired Celentano to open for lunch. Chef Dean Parker and his wife Anna recently moved to Glasgow, from London, where their names were linked to several places that I loved and returned often. Parker was the chef at Darby’s, an Irish-influenced New York-style oyster bar and restaurant near the new US Embassy in Vauxhall. This is a place that I have reported to many people and their parents, for fun as much as the pie and the crispy potatoes with beef fat; it is a reliable, good quality establishment with astute cuisine. Before that Parker was cooking at Sorella in Clapham, where I stayed for so long over lunch, drinking homemade vermouth and eating gnocchi, which they closed and reopened for dinner.

Celentano Jerusalem artichoke in mushroom sauce with fennel and sorrel: “Experimental, but nevertheless very edible.

In fact, I blame Parker for starting my midlife addiction to affogato, or vanilla ice cream drenched in hot espresso with a big dose of something alcoholic like Frangelico. An affogato isn’t big enough to be a good dish I think so it doesn’t count strictly as pudding meaning you can order tiramisu as well.

And now the Parkers have headed north, opening Celentano’s in Glasgow Hotel Maison Cathédrale, a quite sumptuous charming residence built in the old baronial style in 1896 and now very tastefully restored, with eight rooms overlooking the cathedral and the necropolis. Celentano’s is a split-level dining room with sage green woodwork, original wooden floors, and pretty black and white tiling around a sit-down bar. It’s serene, a bit old-fashioned, and instantly likable.

Lasagna Fritti
Celentano Fritti Lasagna: “I am a convert.

The menu is Italian, in that it offers pasta, cheese, salumi and so on divided into antipasti, primi and second, but this is not an establishment with a red tablecloth and garlic bread, and more a delicious mishmash of all the talents and eccentricities of Dean Parker. In the ‘snacks’ section of the menu, for example, there are slices of his gloriously tangy homemade pork and fennel salami, alongside chunks of lasagna fritti made with porcini mushrooms and Cora Linn sheep cheese. Yes, fried lasagna. I am a convert. Also see tiny donuts filled with a really curious “jam” of salt cod and kimchi.

In fact, it would be easy to be left alone in the snack section, spreading Parker’s homemade chicken liver parfait on fresh sourdough, or soaking it in premium Le Ferre olive oil, but I would. dined alone so had to be judicious in my menu choices. If I chose a large bowl of fresh and deliciously wavy pappardelle in a rich and creamy Dexter beef sauce, would I perhaps have room for the large piece of toasted honey cake with miso, pear and pear gelato? the tonka bean? And, if so, would I dare to try a Jerusalem artichoke antipasti with stracciatella and chanterelles? It was a risk, but the one who dares wins.

Pappardelle with beef dextral, Celentanos Glasgow.
Celentano’s pappardelles with ragú dextral beef: “Rich, creamy and deliciously wavy”.

The pasta here is exquisite, as you may have guessed. Had a Mossgiel ricotta agnolotti with cavolo nero and squash that I will definitely be back to try. The Jerusalem artichokes were a bit soggy and plated over a thick, almost firm, taupe-colored mushroom sauce, titrated with the occasional green leaf. It was experimental cuisine rather than safe, filling, but it was very edible nonetheless. By the way, this toasted honey cake was wonderfully chewy – think of a pleasant piece of puffed up Soreen malt bread with a center of oozing cream set on a plinth of sweet pear and ice cream, with a flickering note of umami. miso. It is an excellent dessert.

Celentano Grilled Honey Cake with Vermouth Icing, Pear and Tonka Bean Ice Cream:
Celentano Grilled Honey Cake with Vermouth Icing, Pear and Tonka Bean Ice Cream: “Very moist – an excellent dessert”.

It’s very early for Celentano’s, so now is the perfect time to book a table. In fact, this could be the perfect Saturday outing: there are 3,500 monuments to the deceased in the nearby necropolis that you can spend an entire morning browsing, before strolling over to Celentano’s for lunch to honor the living. Life is short, cruel, and bumpy, so make time for long lunches with friends that extend into dinner with honey cake, laughs, and bowls of cool, slippery pappardelle. You might as well. I don’t know where we’re going after this life, let alone the restaurant business there.

Celentano 28–32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow G4, 0141-552 3519. Lunch open Wednesday to Saturday noon to 3 pm, dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6 pm to 10 pm; Sun noon-6 p.m. Around £ 40 per person, plus drinks and service

Grace’s Comfort Eating Podcast Series 2, Episode Seven releases December 7. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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