THERE will be a moment when unpacking that I look at the number of boxes, tubs, packets, the breezy yet voluminous instructions, the raw asparagus, and wonder out loud in
a groany, moany way if Ikea is behind this meal.
You know: some planks, sandpaper, a piece of bent metal, lots of pictograms – be quicker cutting down a tree. But…as is the way with modern cheffery it turns out quite a lot of these packets of gee-gaws and bijouterie contain little sprinkly things to put on top. Textures, colours, flavours that are the culinary equivalent of fairy-dust, to lift a dish.
And when we push the plates back at the end of the meal I’ll have this sudden, blinding revelation: the future of lockdown dining is boil-in-the-bag. Or sous vide as it’s known in finer quarters. Because, and I’ll cut to the main course here, the smoked beef, (brisket I assume), slow cooked yet melting beneath its plastic jacket, heated in the bag for 15 whole minutes, snipped, served with a lush, sweet and almost whole blackened hispi cabbage, and Jersey potatoes immersed in flavours a la boulangerie, a spikey crumb-sprinkled atop, is just outstanding.
A wall of deep, dark flavours and creamy textures with bursts of crumbled intensity. The meat itself has so clearly had the kitchen’s love that Debs, who has drawn the vegetarian short straw, looks over the table in clear and present envy.
Hurrah then for a pre-booked, heat yourself, collect at an allotted time meal that actually is more rewarding than a long-forgotten sit-in restaurant dinner.
That collection itself, a process that’s usually now so slick and easy when food is not hot, involved driving slack-jawed past the longest queue I have ever seen – stretching so far up Glasgow’s Great Western Road that it made the actual internet. A queue that was for a (very good) pizza restaurant.
While over the hill and far away, well, down to the lights anyway, we were the only customers troubling the masked servers at Cail Bruich. Of course, this meal had to be pre-booked, and is not cheap.
There are rewards though. A loaf and a half of a very pretty fresh-baked bread is unveiled during the unboxing, to have its tummy tickled in the oven then smeared with wild garlic pesto. Tubs of cold watermelon gazpacho with rose water, too, with slightly dodgy-looking crumbs of feta drifting atop, which I turn my not inconsiderable nose up at initially, then taste. Then praise.
We actually do have to cook the asparagus itself, perilously close to a bridge too far that, then plate with curried egg and tart little pickled vegetables.
There’s cod crudo, yes, raw fish at
home – gulp. Dragged awkwardly into complete glory by the addition of
caviar, peas, shellfish vinaigrette.
Refreshing to see that Cail Bruich has got into the spirit of things by lacing the five paragraph heating instructions with a bit of sauce: “make it nice”, “don’t forget the artistic plating”, “make it look sexy” they exhort. “Sprinkle with good quality salt flake” too, but at this point I’m thinking: ah shut-up.
No amount of fun is ever going to save that other sous-vide dish. Flavour shamed by that beef the sous-vided smoked kohlrabi, orange glazed chicory and Jersey royals (some ended up with my beef) and black garlic like were uncomfortable strangers at party with no booze. Individually okay, but together just stodgy slabs of monochrome flavours and textures.
Back to form with desserts that, like the starters, largely salute the chef’s ability for completely pre-preparing ready to eat food. We have then perfectly pleasant, tart yet tangy mango cremes from plastic dishes. And thoroughly enjoy them. Even though Markies probably do something visually very similar.
It’s been a posh meal this, easy to make look good, clearly better than anything that can be knocked out quickly at home. Way to go.
725 Great Western Road
Tel: 0141 334 6265 (But book on the internet)
Menu: Fine dining from Scotland’s larder. Sounds a tad cheesy nowadays but this is inventive, flavour-packed, deftly prepared and well worth the 15 minutes to make it look posh.
Price: £30 a head, dinners for two, pick up at allotted times and carry home. Then go through the detailed and cheery instructions. Not rocket science.
Food: Watermelon gazpachos with rose water, cod crudo with caviar, but the smoked beef with hispi cabbage and Jersey royals stole the show. Veggie option aside? Excellent.