Reconnecting with an old friend has been one of the positives of the last year. I have found myself chatting or quizzing with school pals on Zoom more regularly in 2020 than in the past ten years.
The same feeling of rediscovery can be applied to finding out that a much-loved restaurant has survived lockdown and is emerging, blinking and dazed into the restrictions to offer comfort in the familiar.
This was the case with Café Zique, which closed its doors in March 2020 and remained shut for most of the year. A note in the window explained it was shut for a refurbishment but, as the months passed, the fear it was gone for good was real.
A once bustling spot for breakfast and brunch in the west end of Glasgow, it was near impossible to get a table without a wait on a weekend morning unless you were there for it opening. Over last summer, hopes were raised when a decking area outside was built, but still the doors remained closed.
Finally, through the freezing mist of winter, large, bright orange letters spelling out Ziques were placed in the window – followed by a brand new website and a surprising new menu.
The revamp of Ziques is the latest addition to owner Mhairi Taylor’s portfolio, which once included Delizique, which later become Gather by Zique that sadly closed, and the charming Bakery by Zique a few streets away.
The Zique name – a nod to Ms Taylor’s grandfather - which started with Delizique, has been part of the city’s food scene since 2001.
In a recent interview Mhairi confirmed she would be back in the kitchen cooking food that she and her family love.
Gone are the full breakfasts and eggs Benedict (she was quoted as saying “We’ve had that menu for 10 years and it was interesting at the beginning because you could barely get an eggs Benedict back then and we decided to do breakfast with quality ingredients. Now, it just bores me stupid, I don’t want to look at eggs. It’s not the way I cook at home, it’s not the way I eat and it’s not the way that the staff cook.”) and in is a small menu of Asian inspired dishes – from loaded parathas to butter chicken and Thai curries.
The tagline on the Ziques website is ‘food we love’ so it’s with great enthusiasm that we place an order online on a Saturday night to see exactly what that means.
This was one of the first weekends that the restaurant, which is yet to have its refurbishment complete, was open and it was a hive of activity that led to a bit of a wait for our order. Staff were friendly but understandably stressed, given the current circumstances. When we finally got our order home, and heated up it was time to tuck in.
For starters we shared a halloumi paratha (£7) – a pillowy soft flat bread topped with salty and charred halloumi, smashed avocado, chilli oil and seeds. The flavours here combine very well – the savoury cheese complimented the creamy avocado all of which was given some heat with the chilli oil.
I can see the range of these being firm favourites when we can go out for lunch again. We had also ordered a Thai vegetable broth (£7) but it ended up a casualty of its packaging and didn’t make it home (this is set to change and we gratefully received a heartfelt apology).
Next on to the mains, I opted for the pork Bibimibap (£10), a traditional Korean dish of meat, veg and rice usually served with a spicy sauce. Ziques version of this included soft pulled pork shoulder that was peppered with what looked like chilli. This was perked up with pickled red cabbage, crisp carrot, beetroot and a fried egg. The dish has a mild kick and a more herbaceous taste than is traditional and, when mixed together and without a sauce, it was a bit dry.
My other half chose a Thai vegetable curry (£8) which smelled lovely and coconutty. Made with pak choi and baby sweetcorn, and greens such as courgette, broccoli and my nemeses coriander, it was a no-go from me but he described it as perfectly pleasant and made light work of clearing his plate. A side of buckwheat noodles (£4) covered in a sticky satay sauce topped with sliced chillies were a real highlight and eaten before they even made it to the plate.
On to dessert, which was a shared warm hazelnut brownie served with ice cream (£6.50). A sweet, light and nutty end to the meal it was lovely but my inner Bake Off inspired expert would say it was more cake-like than true brownie. Vegans should note that the other two desserts, caramelised pineapple and sticky toffee pudding, are both dairy free.
Ziques also has a couple of cocktails to order – a Partick Negroni and a White Russian (£6 each) – that are delivered ready to be stirred up at home as well as an extensive hot and soft drinks menu.
While the food at Ziques was fine, it feels more like a homemade attempt at popular Asian dishes rather than aiming for authenticity and I can’t quite understand where it’s trying to place itself.
But with 20 years in the industry Mhairi will know her stuff. I understand the move away from breakfasts (an aged menu plus former staff opened the hugely popular brunch spot, Partick Duck Club just down the road from Ziques a few years ago), it’ll be interesting to see how the restaurant and menu evolves and develops, especially the cocktail element, when we can all get back out.
£42.50 for two
Food – 6/10
Ambiance – 7/10
Ziques, 66 Hyndland St, Partick, Glasgow G11 5PT