Celentano’s, Glasgow


28 - 32 Cathedral Square

Glasgow G4 0XA

0131 552 3519 www.celentanosglasgow.com

Celentanos Interior

The Bill

 A la carte

Snacks  £3.00 - £8.00 | Antipasti £11.50 - £12.50

Primi £12.00 - £14.00 |  Secondi £17.50 - £27.00

Desserts £6.00 - £7.00 

Feasting Menu


The Score

Cooking  8.5/10 | Service 2/5

Flavour  5/5 | Value 5/5

TOTAL 20.5/25

I don't know if the businesslike front of house ladies here are SIA (Security Industry Authority) certificated, but they probably should be. More of that anon.

Positive things about this place have been filtering along the M8. Seemed like a good venue to meet middle child K and partner LC  (the C to avoid confusion with our resident L), to celebrate some great news. Celentano's is named for the singer of the favourite song of chef Dean Parker and his wife Anna - it was played on loop when they were on honeymoon. Parker was making a significant name for himself in London (Lamberts, Tom Aikens, The Dairy, Sorella, Darby's) when to the surprise of many he packed his knives and headed north.

The restaurant is situated in the Cathedral House Hotel, built in the Scottish baronial style and dating from 1896. Given the name and the address, would it be unreasonable to assume some sort of ecumenical connection? Well, no and yes. True, Shane and Laura McKenzie did buy it from Glasgow Cathedral in 2018. The cathedral, however, had only owned it since the 1950s. In its previous incarnation it was a hostel for newly released inmates from the nearby Duke Street Women's Prison.

It's now quite a stunning, multilevel space, painted in what the designers tell me is sage green. A good few shades darker than any sage leaf I've ever seen though, come to think of it, they do darken when you cook them.  It's busy busy, which is a good sign. In no time we are comfortably squeezed into a place on the middle tier. Up above us, chef's family are tucking in. Le patron mange ici - another good sign.

Tess presents us with the menus, from which a bewildering range of goodies may be selected. I have previously been a little snotty about the concept of Snacks on a menu, suggesting that this is often simply a device to increase turnover. Not here.

Yes, of course you can have bread and olives, but there are seven other choices, testament to chef's many talents. Lasagne fritte are apparently jazzed up with a hit of Cora Linn cheese. I believe that the coppa and pork fennel salami are home made. Fermenting and preserving are skills which Dean has acquired on his travels. So you could have preserved fennel with salsa verde, or the pescetarians might enjoy smoked cod doughnuts with kimchi. Given the amount of food on the rest of the menu we regretfully passed on all of these, but they provoked much discussion. If you find yourself doing the same, beware. Your clock is ticking.

Our table was booked for 1 o'clock. To be fair, the confirmatory email said we had the table for 1 hour 45 minutes, but I'd checked the website. Opening hours 12 - 3; 5.45 - 11. No worries, as they say. So we caught up on a lot of lost time. We chatted of this and that (as Chic Murray said, a subject of which I know very little) and of shoes and ships and sealing wax and so on. From a menu stuffed with such goodies decisions are hard.

Pasta featured highly in our choices to start. Agnolotti were stuffed with Mossgiel ricotta (perhaps as once made by the Bard himself), purple sprouting broccoli and toasted

Torched Mackerel

hazelnuts. Good chefs get it that texture is important too. This was evidenced in the dish of pappardelle with a ragù of Dexter beef. The menu advertised tinto, which is a type of cheese made with raw goat's milk. It wasn't discernible. Not even Dean can make a plate of pasta look elegant (as if I care), but his artistic skills were in evidence in the torched mackerel with fennel, pickled rhubarb and cucumber, which appealed to all the senses.

The list of secondi (main courses) was as enticing as the rest of the menu. I was tempted by the Loch Etive Trout Fillet - Wilted Greens - Seaweed Butter, which must be good as they'd put it on the menu twice. Dexter beef again - Dean must be on good terms with his supplier - was seasoned with nutmeg, which was interesting, but also with too much salt which was less good. I comment on this as it's probably the only criticism I can make of anything we had to eat all day. If you're worried that modern chefs just serve up dinky portions, try the Shetland Hogget. The shank alone would have served. This also came with a hunk of slow cooked belly. To add to the artery-clogging loveliness of the plate I had ordered  Dean's famous side dish of potato strati. Think of a great square of crunchy potatoes thinly sliced and layered dauphinoise style, the difference being that the layers were held together with beef fat. Thoroughly bad for you and thoroughly delicious in equal measures. And there are two of them!

It's 2.30 and Tess arrives to give us a 15 minute warning. Eh! You're closing in half an hour, dear. By this stage we're all groaning gently, having eaten very well indeed. Dean, I gather, has converted more than one critic to the delights of affogato. The word is Italian for drowned. At its simplest it's vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over. Dean's version includes malted barley gelato and chocolate mousse, the coffee being cold brewed. I'll be up for that on my next visit. Or possibly the quince sorbet, or the hazelnut miso madeline. Goodness me, this man can cook. But.

Yes, there is a but. In fact there are two. I ordered a £38 bottle of red, a 2020 Malbec. What arrived was in a plain bottle. I made the obvious query. Yes, said bossy Tess, it comes on tap. It was a family meal, the wine was pleasant, so no fuss was made; however, it's a bit like deleted WhatsApp messages. How can you be sure? I have no reason to doubt their bona fides, but if I'm paying that much for a specific vintage, I think I'm entitled to check the label for myself. Not the only unpleasant surprise of the day.

At 2.44 we were given our 60 second warning. I glanced at the door, where hungry and expectant people were queuing. Turns out they don't shut on a Saturday afternoon. Now we were a bit slow in ordering but, as in any good kitchen, dishes are prepared to order and take a little time to come out. We might have had time for pud and coffee. Then again we missed out on the snacks section. There is a separate Feasting Menu, which is available on a Saturday lunchtime. From that you have the snacks menu followed by four courses, followed by petits fours. 

Not a chance in 1 hour 45, guys, Now I understand the economics and I get the need to turn tables. But 15 minutes would have made all the difference between the memory of a great meal, and a lasting impression of being bruised by a bouncer. Tess had the table reset and people seated before we had our coats on. What's wrong with sittings at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9?

A terrific lunch: however, a point has to be deducted for each but. Tess is a pleasant enough lady, but they have to come off service. Next time I'll go on my own, with nothing to divert me from the clock.

1 Comment

  1. Wendy Barrie on 2nd February 2024 at 7:15 pm

    Some great provenance of ingredients…very interesting

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