Restaurant review: Lucky Seven Canteen, Glasgow
What kind of customer would make a restaurant waiter's heart sink? I'd suggest one like myself on the night I took ten people – four adults including a vegetarian and six kids ranging from a ravenous 14-year-old to a picky two-year-old, to Lucky Seven Canteen in Glasgow.
The staff did well to hide any sense of foreboding as we walked in. But it was a good test of the place; especially as it was the start of a holiday weekend and the restaurant was heaving.
A city centre address with an inexpensive menu can sometimes lead to disappointment. The deal here is that starters are 4, mains are 7 and side orders are just 1 each. A quick gander at the website reveals that they use locally sourced quality ingredients, which, at these prices, seemed too good to be true.
But as we squeezed our way into the restaurant at 6:30pm, the number of diners suggested they were getting something right. The only space they had for us was a booth built for six or possibly eight diners, rather than ten. But it was easy to hem in the little ones in such an arrangement so we squished up.
We got down to ordering straight away as we'd been told they only had a licence for children till eight. Fortunately the choices were concise, which is always a good sign. I took charge and ordered one of everything from the starter menu, letting everyone order their own main.
As well as the 4/7 choices, there are specials which cost a little more. The crispy bacon and black pudding salad (5.95) and grilled goats cheese with wilted spinach (4.50) were the starters fought over by the adults. The stand-out winner for me was from the cheapo menu – the ham hough terrine with mushy peas (4) was a densely sweet meat with a lovely contrasting texture of peas, and I was pleased that the children eyed it with suspicion. They meted out the same treatment to the haggis balls with whisky sauce (4) until told that the menu was only describing the shape of the haggis portions. Fortunately we had ordered enough mozzarella-smothered bruschetta (4) for them all to have a slice.
For mains they stayed on the 7 menu, with fish and chips with tartare sauce, steak and red wine pie with garlic and herb mash and a huge pot of mussels and chips which almost had to be eaten off my daughter's knees for lack of space, all being well cooked, tasty and plentiful.
Ms Vegetarian also went for a 7 dish, the butternut squash and tomato risotto. She declared it delicious.
The two chaps both ordered sea bass with a mustard mash, drizzled in caper butter (10) which was beautifully cooked to be just firmly opaque – no mean feat in the busy circumstances – while the mash provided a wonderful piquant counterpoint. Ravenous teen and I plumped for fajitas, for different reasons. He thought they would be the biggest thing on the menu, whereas I knew that, being a mother, I'd have to swap with one of the children who regretted their choice at some point. At least chicken fajitas (11.95) would be acceptable to all. I was right, but ended up with the lovely dark rich steak and wine pie and chips, so didn't do badly out of the deal.
Side orders of onion rings (1) were the hit of the day, coming in an almost see-through light tempura batter and snaffled as soon as they hit the table, no matter how many orders we placed. The chips (1), on which some people rate an establishment, were chunky and delicious too.
Puds range from 3 to 4.50 here, but just as I was getting excited about ice-cream-van oysters (4) and double nougats with raspberry sauce (3) we realised our time was up.
So I was wrong to doubt the possibility of serving good quality food in this location, at these prices. Apparently it is even better value at lunchtime, when mains are 4. They even serve chips and toasties into the early hours at the weekend. Which seems to me to be providing a slick, sought- after service, at a very agreeable price.
LUCKY SEVEN CANTEEN
158 Bath Street, Glasgow
(0141-331 6227, www.lucky7glasgow.co.uk)
Dinner for ten, excluding drinks, 116.85
Three to try
Various city centre locations in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen (0131-220 8323, www.howies.uk.com)
Locally sourced contemporary food at reasonable prices.
Caf Tabou French Restaurant
4 St John's Place, Perth (01738 446698, www.cafetabou.com)
A great value lunch menu in the city centre, with two courses for 11.90.
58 Broad Street, Old Town, Stirling (01786 450632, www.hermanns.co.uk)
Uses the best of Scottish produce for an Austrian-inspired menu of schnitzel and strudel.
• This article was first published in The Scotsman on Saturday, June 26, 2010
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