For a long time we knew we would head up to Skye for our honeymoon, however 'Manchester to Skye' is quite a journey to do in one leg so we got to thinking about a place to stop along the way. The most obvious choice to people I spoke to was Edinburgh, however that would mean drifting to the east when really we wanted to minimise the number of miles and stay west. So we thought, why not Glasgow?
We do enjoy visiting cities and it gives us a chance to go for a walkabout with not too much planned and just see where the night takes us.
As it was a Monday night though, we didn't want to be stuck as many restaurants it seems like to close on a Monday. So we pre-booked a table at a restaurant in the West End. The place looked great on the website but when we got to Glasgow we bought ourselves a travel card for the metro and went to find it. For us, it was just a little too far away from the hustle and bustle and with the great number of alternatives on offer nearer the station, we decided to cancel our booking.
While wondering back and popping into one of many charity shops along the route we happened across a wonderful discovery. The Hanoi Bike Shop sits down a little street just opposite Hillhead Station on the Metro. It describes itself as a Vietnamese Canteen and sells street food(esque) dishes alongside some standard Vietnamese dishes. Having spent a fantastic holiday in Hanoi a few years ago we were very excited about this find. We peaked inside and it looked homely enough - obviously trying to re-create the street food feel but under cover, it is a canteen after all so I understand what they were trying to achieve. The only thought for us was whether it was quality enough to be our 1st honeymoon meal.
After much discussion, wandering past the menu in the window, more discussion.... looking at other places, wandering back again, we decided that as we were going to spend 3 nights in a very high-end dining establishment that is The Three Chimneys then a more modest start to the holiday would be fine. And besides which, we didn't want to eat somewhere that we would immediately compare to the Three Chimneys - as that isn't fair on any restaurant.
After returning to the hotel to freshen up, we returned to rather fuller restaurant to that which we had looked at before. This was a very good sign for a Monday night. We asked for a table for 2 and were seated at a table near the counter complete with a selection of condiments such as fish sauce and chilli sauce destined for the Pho should we have ordered it.
We were told that the dishes listed as starters were suitable for sharing as part of a mini banquet which is how we wanted to eat. The dishes we ordered were great - although I fear we may have ordered more than we really needed but its best not to go wanting I suppose:
From the top our dishes were; Bun Cha; Mustard Greens; Rare Beef and Kohlrabi salad; Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime leaf curry with Bike Shop Tofu, Aubergine and Potato; Pho Bo; Prawn Crackers and Peanut and Chilli dip; Orange Pannacotta-style dessert with Spiced Oranges; Vietnamese Drip Coffee.
We really enjoyed the experience and think that if you go you should do so with an open mind. There have been a lot of reviews that seem over critical on its authenticity. For us, we can understand what the proprietors are trying to achieve and think they have done well in introducing some fabulous food to a market that may not have experienced it before. The dishes are a little too refined to be street food and the drip coffee not quite strong enough compared with the drip coffee I once had sat on a little plastic chair down a back street in Hanoi!
Never the less, go there for the fun of it, the quality of food on offer and also the Hanoi Beer which is also delicious.