Last month the UK’s newest Michelin Star restaurants were announced and, once again, Glasgow was given the nod with Unalome by Graeme Cheevers being given one star.
After 18 years without a star (Gordon Ramsay’s Amaryllis at One Devonshire Garden was awarded one star, but shut in 2004), Cail Bruich brought the accolade back to the city at a time when hospitality was down, but not defeated, by Covid.
Now Glasgow has two, which comes as a happy if not complete surprise as chef patron of Unalome, Graeme Cheevers, made his intentions clear ahead of opening his first solo venture in the summer of 2021.
He said: “There is nowhere else I would rather launch my own restaurant than in my home city of Glasgow.
“It is scary going solo, but I feel like I’m now at a point in my career where I’m ready and I have the confidence and experience to take it forward and make it a success. Unalome will be a dining experience unlike anything else you’ll find in the city. But, it will also be accessible and relaxed so that everyone can come and enjoy it.
“I don’t want it to be an occasion restaurant – I want people to visit again and again and experience something slightly different every time.
“We’re hitting the ground running and have high hopes to achieve Glasgow’s first Michelin star since 2004 within our first year.
“To follow the successes of Andrew Fairlie or Gordon Ramsay in Glasgow would be incredible. I can’t wait to get started.”
Part of the plan to make the restaurant accessible, and not turn off those that think Michelin Stars equal an extortionate meal, the team at Unalome have a £ 35 three course lunch menu, which I was looking forward to trying on a snowy mid-February day.
Anyone who hasn’t visited the restaurant since it was The Sisters, will notice the ‘of the moment’ modern decor, green velvet seating, statement lighting, gold accents and parquet flooring.
The kitchen is also very much part of the restaurant, and about as open as they come, with chefs cooking and moving about at the far left of the room where the state of the art kitchen is located.
After a warm welcome we’re presented with the many menus – drinks, lunch, a la carte, tasting and veggie tasting options.
The menus change regularly, and include seasonal ingredients with prices ranging from the aforementioned £ 35 for a three course lunch to £ 90 for the tasting menu.
Two cocktails, a naked mulled sour – a warming mix of Naked Malt (formerly Naked Grouse), mulled wine, lemon and bitters – and a twist on the classic negoni, a lagroni – Laphroaig 10, Campari, oloroso sherry, Discarded vermouth.
These were served with three amuse bouches – a paper thin red mullet tart with seaweed and caviar, a light steamed brioche with cheese, which was balanced on a slick white block and a delicate truffle royale and black pudding and spelt bon bon with leek creme.
Appetites suitably peaked from the short, well balanced drinks and snacks, we ordered from the lunch menu which has two options per course. Luckily my dining partner and I split the menu down the middle – where I chose the vegetable and fish options, she went full on carnivore.
Starters were a tartare of black Angus beef served with herb buttermilk and bitter leaves, and muscade pumpkin soup with roasted langoustine.
The bright orange soup was silky smooth with a sweetness from the pumpkin, and added texture from seeds and a plump langoustine which was floating in the middle like a pink island complete with crisp samphire greenery.
Across the table, the tartare was deemed light, well seasoned and enlivened by the salad.
Next up were the mains, I went for the poached fillet of John Dory, while the meat-eater chose the beef cheek dish which was in place of the roe deer (deliveries of which had been hampered by the weather).
The fish was by far the stand out dish of the afternoon, and was served on a creamy bed of potato, surrounded by a ginger butter sauce and topped with brown shrimps and samphire.
While the dish was rich, thanks to the potato mousse and butter sauce, the ginger cut through it making sure it wasn’t overpowering or heavy and the lightness and slight sweetness of the fish wasn’t lost. Samphire once again added bite.
The beef cheek was deemed fine, especially when paired with a chutney style sauce, but there was still some disappointment at the absence of the deer dish.
Finally desserts and mine was a small thin rectangular piece of Guayaquil 60 per cent dark chocolate tart served with (the most delicious, creamy and bright) pistachio ice cream. There was just enough sweetness and decadence from the chocolate to satisfy a sweet tooth but not enough to leave you feeling uncomfortable.
And if I could eat nothing but the pistachio ice cream from now on, I’d be happy. The other dessert was a fresh palate cleanser in the form of a lemon and pink grapefruit cream served with passionfruit sorbet that was deemed moreish.
From the decor, music service, and most importantly, the food, it’s easy to see why Unalome has caught the eye, and star of the Michelin Guide and this lunch deal is delivering what Graeme spoke of – an accessible option that turns an occasion restaurant into somewhere you’d happily while away an afternoon with friends and family. And, for me, that’s worth the trip come rain, shine or snow.
Unalome by Graeme Cheevers
36 Kelvingrove Street, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 7RZ