Another week, another new great restaurant opening in Finnieston….could this area be any hotter right now?
When the guys over at Kained Holdings told me a few months ago about their new Mexican party bar in Finnieston I was really excited. I always love Kained restaurants, it’s hard not to when they have given us the joy of The Finnieston, Porter & Rye, Kelbourne Saint and Crafty Pig. It safe to say that these guys know what they are doing – their places always have a cool vibe, nice staff and on the whole serving tasty food.
So when I heard they were throwing open the doors to their new baby The Duchess of Argyle last Saturday, I talked MrG into moseying on down to Finnieston with me to trying it out.
Located in the old Rockus bar in Finnieston, the décor is exactly what I expect from these guys – funky, interesting and well done. They’ve gone for a traditional Victorian/old man pub kind of look – there’s wood panelling, a retro reclaimed bar, chairs which look like vintage church seating, some stain glass window panels and cool art (excluding the defaced picture of Robert Burns, which I absolutely hated – there are just some Scottish icons you don’t mess with). it all adds up to a relaxed but stylish vibe, and somewhere you will want to hang out for a few hours drinking the made in house tequila.
Staff wise, everyone was really helpful and friendly. As soon as we walked in we were advised that they were having a few opening day issues with the electrics in the kitchen, so there would be small delay on food, which we were fine with. While we waited they brought us complimentary chips and dip to keep us going, which was a nice touch. The guy who served us went over the menu and drinks giving recommendations and advice which is always good.
The menus is full of tapas size Mexican inspired dishes, with a selection of tacos and assorted other dishes to choose from. We were advised by our waiter that the tacos were quite small (about 3-4 bites each) so MrG and I decided to order 3 sets of tacos and 2 sides to share.
The tacos I am pretty sure are made in house, if they aren’t they are the finest bought in soft tacos ever – they tasted mega fresh, light and soft. Although it has to be mentioned that they didn’t really hold up that well to being picked up with the filling. 2 out of my 3 tacos split and were pretty messy…which was a bit of a ‘mare given that they didn’t have any wet wipes, I was advised that they have been ordered and just hadn’t arrived yet.
So the soft tacos were good but uber messy…let’s chat fillings…….
Tempura Cauliflower, Apache Beer Cheese, Jalapenos and Pickled Pink Onions – I really liked this taco, the tempura cauliflower was crispy, although I maybe would have liked it a bit more seasoned (purely personal thing tho) The jalapenos and pickled onion gave the taco a punch of heat and tangy which I enjoyed. The Apache Beer Cheese I couldn’t really taste at all. Still a great taco which I would happily order again.
Crispy Pork, Charred Pineapple, White Onion and Coriander – This was probably my favourite, the pork was salty, the pineapple was juicy and fresh, and the coriander brought a little warmth to the filling. Although it did fall apart so I had to get a fork and knife involved in eating it.
Chilli Rubbed Flat Iron Steak, Roast Tomato Salsa and Crema – This was probably my least favourite. I loved the flavour profile from the charred beef, beautiful fresh zingy salsa and the silky crema but it was really difficult to eat. Again it fell apart really easily, and because I couldn’t bite through the steak I ended up having all the steak in my first bite. It meant that I didn’t really enjoy it because I was just trying to clear my mouth of food, rather than savouring the lovely flavours. Really all that is needed here is the steak to be cut into smaller pieces and it would be a tip-top taco. Easily fixed.
Where the Duchess really won me over though was with their Antojitos (translates as little cravings, this is fast foods prepared on the streets and in market stalls in Mexico)
We went for two of these little cravings, although if I am being honest it was a challenge not to just order them all, they all sounded bloody delicious. However MrG assured me that I would be sick if I tried them all….such a spoil sport.
So in the end we settled on trying the Tijuana Street Fries which were DE-vine! Beautiful golden slightly oily chips topped with Roasted Cumin Spice Mix, Homemade Guac which was creamy and thick with a kick of warmth from some red onion, Crema and zesty tangy Salsa Fresca. These were insanely good, and are already a must order whenever I go.
But my dish of the day was 100% the daily empanadas, which were filled with shredded brisket the day we visited. Holy Guacamole these were fabulous – tender, rich, meaty brisket was packed into the crunchy, buttery slightly crumbly, deliciously greasy empanadas case. I could eat these by the barrow load they were brilliant.
Obviously there was no way on this planet I was leaving without trying the Churros with Hazelnut Garapinada sauce (chocolate sauce) Churros are one of my favourite things so whenever the opportunity arises I always order them.
They were a very nice offering, hot, doughty, slightly savoury, crunchy on the outside and a bit squidgy on the inside…a very nice offering indeed. The chocolate sauce was dark and bitter which is exactly as a good churro dipping sauce should be. My only complaint about my dessert is that MrG stole one knowing damn fine that he doesn’t really like them…I had mega rage about that!
Price wise we were £42 which I was fine with. I wouldn’t say it was excellent value for money but it was a perfectly good and reasonably price for the quality and amount of food we got, and I was happy to pay it.
A great first trip to meet the Duchess, there were a few tiny teething issues but there is no doubt in my mind that these will be worked out super fast. The Duchess of Argyle is offering something new and interesting to the vibrant Finnieston food scene, and I am sure this place is going to do well as both a bar and a restaurant.