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Catch it if you can; EATING OUT: BY TAM COWAN CATCH 22 158 BATH ST, GLASGOW This amazing restaurant jumps into the lead for the Hot Plate Award - and It will take some beating.

Byline: BY TAM COWAN

Mention the phrase Catch 22 and, if you're as brainy (not to mention good looking) as yours truly, you'll think of the American writer Joseph Heller and his famous novel.

But listen, folks, forget all that nonsense about a no-win situation - one trip to Catch 22 in Glasgow will make you wonder what the hell Mr Heller was on about.

This new seafood restaurant offers a win-win situation all the way and that's why it has shot to the top of our Hot Plate leader board.

These Hot Plate Awards are a bit like buses, you know. You wait ages for one then two come along at once. I thought we'd found a successor to Wildings after my visit last week to the excellent Smiths Brasserie in Gretna.

To be honest, I'd even put our trusty engraver (the same chap, incidentally, who'll be carving Mother well's name on this year's SPL trophy) on standby. However, a week's a long time in restaurant reviewing and, with our deadline fast approaching, Catch 22 is now the bookies' favourite to pick up our second gong.

Just like our previous winner in the sunny Ayrshire village of Maidens (hands up if you still haven't been to Wildings?) I can tell you Catch 22 could have scored a perfect 25/25.

However, I knocked a point off the otherwise excellent decor (harshly, you might suggest) simply because the fixtures and fittings didn't include an air-conditioning system.

Fingers crossed, this is addressed before summer 2007. Seriously, folks, on the sweltering Saturday night we visited, I was sweating so much I lost three freckles and two moles.

The fact Catch's front doors have only just opened means the diningroom is dazzling, the cutlery and crockery are sparkling and, yes, you could eat your dinner off the toilet floor. But you know what? I've got a hunch it will be exactly the same story 18 months down the line.

(And by the way, before anyone offers me a bell-ringing job at Notre Dame Cathedral, I don't really have a hunch, okay?)

Yes, folks, it may be the latest in an extremely long line of restaurants that have opened on Bath Street over the past four or five years but, unlike the vast majority, I confidently predict Catch 22 is here to stay. Thanks in no small way to the comfortable booths - remember to ask for one when booking a table. I felt as if I could have sat in the dining-room all night.

Service was excellent from start to finish - head honcho Gordon 'Rogano' Yuill has clearly gone to great lengths to source the very best staff - and I also liked the prices. Minus the "special occasion" bottle of bubbly that came out of my own pocket (mind your own business!) the three course bill for the two of us was pounds 64.

Not bad, eh?

Catch 22 is the seafood restaurant that's not too fishy and the menu includes loads of alternatives for meat-lovers and pesky veggies.

Plus, about seven of the dishes are available as both a starter and main course. Hey, even the chips come in two varieties - fat or skinny!

I've never really been an oysters, langoustine or lobster Thermidor kinda guy and, even though my granny would insist it tastes better 24 hours later, I still didn't fancy "yesterday's soup of the day"...

So I ordered the fillet of hot smoked Shetland salmon. Verdict? Let's just say that if I'd tasted this wonderful slab of fish before placing my order, I'd have had it for a main course as well.

Across the table, the monkfish and prawns in puff pastry with Arran mustard, white wine and dill cream went down a storm. And, as I would have predicted after my scintillating starter, the chargrilled salmon was also delicious. Seduced by a word on the menu - chargrilled - I asked the waiter if it would be possible to have the roast halibut cooked this way.

Not a problem. Sure enough, it was fantastic and almost as tasty as the hot smoked salmon.

Even if you're stuffed, you should never shun the dessert menu and, if you don't share my passion for cheese, I'd have to point you in the direction of the apple tart. Whisper it, but my wife actually thought it was better than her mother's.

No big surprise, really, as I know for a fact her mother's apple tart always comes from the local supermarket...

So what more can I say about Catch 22? Fab food, great prices, and just an air-conditioning unit away from perfect decor. Perhaps they were leaving room on the wall for a Hot Plate Award?

ltam.cowan@dailyrecord.co.uk

TAM'S HOT PLATE CONTENDERS

Tel: 0141 331 6222

Open: Noon until late Mon-Fri and 5pm until late Sat and Sun

Wheelchair access: Yes

Bill for two: pounds 64

Food: 5/5 - don't miss the salmon

Service: 5/5 - tip generously

Decor: 4/5 - lovely, if slightly clammy, interior

Toilets: 5/5 - no complaints

Value: 5/5 - great city centre prices

Total: 24/25

23/25 Smiths Brasserie, Gretna Green, 01461 337007

22/25 Balbir's, 7 Church Street, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 339 7711.

22/25 India Quay, 181 Finnieston St, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 221 1616.

22/25 Paperino's, 1227 Byres Rd, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 334 3811.

21/25 Storm, 82 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh. Tel: 01436 678318.

21/25 Peter's Seafood And Grill, 17 Gateside Street, Hamilton.

Tel: 01698 429437. 21/25 La Lanterna, 35 Hope St, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 221 9160.

21/25 63 Tay Street, Perth, Tel: 01738 441451.

20/25 The Mussel and Steak Bar, 110 West Bow, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 5028.

20/25 The Mussel Inn, 61-65 Rose St, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 5979.

20/25 Malin Court Hotel, Turn berry Ayrshire. Tel: 01655 331457.

19/25 The Cotton House, Glasgow Road, Long cross. Tel: 01324 840840.

19/25 Priyas Palace, 2 Robertson Street, Greenock. Tel: 01475 787786.

18/25 Lounge, 33-43 Main Street, Largs. Tel: 01475 689968

18/25 The Kail Yard Green, 599 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 579 0179.

17/25 The Waterside, 19 Ness Bank, Inverness. Tel: 01463 233065.

17/25 Guy's, 157 North Street, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 332 1144.

CAPTION(S):

NO CATCH: The food is always superb in this diner
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 19, 2006
Words:1056
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