We’re late. At just over three months old, Chelsea Market could be considered something of an established fixture on the Finnieston Strip where restaurants appear at a ferocious pace (Six by Nico is the latest, they opened this week). We’re also late for lunch – we arrive at 2.30pm in that transitional period between service.
As we slide into a booth we are offered both lunch and dinner menus, which suits us just fine. More chance to catch up on what they are bringing to the table here.
The name is inspired by the New York food destination and there’s a clean, crisp, international modern bistro feel here. The handsome bar is a striking focal point and the high wood-paneled ceiling creates a sense of space. This could be just about anywhere – although the view from the large windows establishes its Glasgow credentials and allows the street to form a backdrop to proceedings. We’d be happy to linger here for a while.
The lunch menu covers familiar territory with light bights like a smoked salmon bagel of salt beef sandwich, alongside more substantial plates like steak frites and a fish pie.
There’s also a tempting selection of artisan cheeses from Northumberland, Ayrshire, Hampshire and France.
Since we were given the option we honed in on the more comprehensive dinner menu. There’s a whole section devoted to beef with 8oz cheeseburger, ribeye, sirloin from Springwells Farm, Glenmavis. They also supply a hefty 24oz bone in prime rib which is cooked over hot coals and served to share – we’ll return with reinforcements and open a bottle of red wine.
They also choose to focus on Scottish shellfish with Lindisfarne oysters available single or by the half dozen, served on crushed ice with Tabasco and red wine shallots.
We forgo these options in favour of a portion of butternut squash ravioli with cumin, brown butter and calvolo nero (£13.95) and a plate of braised lamb shoulder with pearl barley, shallot and kale (£13.95).
The lamb shoulder dish was perfectly cooked with a balance in texture and flavour and a surprising lightness – the right kind of comfort food.
the ravioli was the winner of the two plates – a joyously simple medley of ingredients that came together to create a dish that was greater than the sum of its parts. We’d order this again.
To finish we shared some carrot cake. It was spiked with orange that gave it a bit of a zing but we were more taken by the Hoegaarden ice cream. Who knew beer ice cream was a thing? We’ll have a pint of that when the sun shines.
Overall, Chelsea Market is a safe choice for lunch or dinner. They are proficient at what they do but the bistro menu could evolve into something more compelling with a bit of innovation.
They have plenty of time to flex their culinary muscles and carve out their place in the Finnieston food firmament.