ZEN AND THE ART OF EATING The intricacies of Japanese cuisine are expertly celebrated at this West End diner, as Tiff Griffin discovers

‘H anami’ means the tradition of watching flowers in blossom. The Finnieston expression is the latest branch of Cailin Jiang’s culinary tree, and while just as enjoyable, should prove less ephemeral. The minimal interior is like a grown-up version of sibling Little Canteen across the road. There’s sashimi, with the market fish selection almost spartan in its palate-cleansing freshness, matched with salty dipping sauce. Salmon and tuna arrive in slices cut with surgical precision, delicately adorned with a carved vegetable flower. All of the dishes are defined by the pure, harmonious taste of excellent Japanese cuisine. In fact, two courses in, it’s as if the stomach were full of purified air and nothing more. There’s further refinement on display in the soft fillings of gyoza and tempura in impeccably seasoned batter. It’s all as crisp as a Kyoto mountainside and just as refreshing. Complementing the flawless kitchen offerings are plum wines and saki that pair beautifully with the fish. It’s hard not to wish for more, but better to savour them as you would admire the first cherry blossom of spring: in quiet, contented reflection.


1185 Argyle Street, West End, Glasgow, G3 8TQ

0141 248 8880, £10 (set lunch) / £20 (dinner)

The best of the new restaurant, café and bar openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Prices shown are for an average two-course meal for one. drinking at lux prices with some justification from the lavish interior (a kaleidoscope of foliage, bold artworks and fine detailing), lots of seafood and prime cuts, competent cocktails, and that tangible air of well-heeled consumption.

Glasgow THE GATE


251 Gallowgate, East End,, £8 (lunch/dinner)

It’s been an assured debut for the Gate no surprise with Andy Gemmell of the Drinks Cabinet at the helm, and serious pros backing him up. Look for the sexy yellow lightning bolt and step into a snug space of stone and wood, and 150-

plus malts. It’s slick but welcoming big smiles, warmth all round, colour-coded whisky pricing with a principle that nothing here should be intimidating. Tennent’s tap sits alongside a draught cocktail tap (yep), and the food is toasties on (marvellously, and correctly) thick white bread. Cocktails are classy, made with precision and panache. And their alcohol-free Mondays are truly daring in this city.


106 Buchanan Street, City Centre, 0141 378 1200,, £16.95 (set lunch) / £29 (dinner) Rarely has a restaurant’s arrival been so heralded. Benihana’s opening in February came close and look how that’s ended. The big question for this branch of the upmarket chain is more ‘will it survive?’ than ‘is it good?’ Judging by the punters almost choking the fussy entrance of the listed former bank, it’s certainly got people’s attention. It’s informal lux dining and



The Mint Building, 19–23 South St Andrew Street, New Town, 0131 560 1329,, £12 (lunch/dinner) It hasn’t been a vintage year for what’s known as the mid-market chains, so at first glance Franco Manca’s move north of the border may seem foolhardy. But this is how a chain should be there are precisely no surprises, it’s good value, easy-going, fuss-free and fun. Pizzas are thin and bubbly, on a convincing sourdough base. There’s a clear commitment to dietary requirements, with vegan and gluten-free options freely available. Pricing is democratic and one of the few places in town where you can get a pizza and a glass of wine for around a tenner.


National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, City Centre, 0131 225 1550,, £15/22 (set lunch)

The Scottish Café and Restaurant was closed for over six months for refurbishment, but even a few moments in the beautifully redesigned and reconfigured space more than make up for its absence. Boasting an eye-

catching mural by Scottish textile designer Mairi Helena,

along with only partially less colourful booths and seating, the deceptively large space is softly lit by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Princes Street Gardens. The Continis’ menu is equally rooted: all ingredients and produce are sourced directly from Scottish suppliers and crafted into creative takes on the nation’s cuisine across a menu which flows from breakfast through brunch and lunch to afternoon tea, with vegan, young and snacking diners catered for along the way.


276 Canongate, Old Town, 0131 557 2955,, £11 (lunch) / £18 (dinner) The junction of the Royal Mile with Jeffrey Street was long the domain of much-loved Edinburgh restaurateur Iggy Campos, and with son Daniel at the helm of this slim new wine bar, coffee-stop and casual dining spot on the main drag, a new generation has arrived. Not Iggs now but Piggs, it’s unmistakeably and unashamedly Spanish, with a striking Estrella Galicia beer font, stacks of sandwiches filled with manchego and jamon, blackboard tapas specials and platters to accompany an attractive Iberian wine list.


192 Morrison Street, West End, 0131 228 9500,, £5 (set lunch) / £12 (dinner) Froth and Flame’s owners (Spey Valley, Keith and Alechemy breweries) have big plans for this brand, which naturally showcases their own beers. It makes a decent attempt at cosying up a cavernous space tartan-lined booths, a mezzanine balcony and plenty of outdoor seating. The short but sweet range of wood-fired pizzas includes the Napoli nduja, friarielli and mozzarella while the rest of the menu has a couple of pastas, salads and generous sharing platters, alongside eight rotating taps keeping the beer interesting.

Independent write-ups on all the restaurants worth knowing about in Glasgow and Edinburgh are available on our online Eating & Drinking Guide at 68 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020