Having left to make his name in France and London, Brian Maule returned to his hometown of Glasgow to bring some continental flair to his regenerating home town.
The story of Brian Maule is closely linked to the fortunes of the city in which he lives, Glasgow. Growing up in Ayrshire (just outside the city), he knew he would have move if he was to truly shine in his chosen career. Glasgow was at the time, an industrial city which had seen better days. This is a stark contrast to its situation today when it is recognized across Europe as a cultural capital. Brian returned, setup Le Chardon d’or, and quickly established himself as one of the city's top chefs. This reputation had extended to some friends of ours who recommended we pay it a visit while staying in the city, and as it was only a few doors down from our hotel, we decided to check it out.
After leaving Scotland, Brian studied in Lyon, France before becoming head chef at a Michelin starred restaurant in London. There he gained valuable experience and managed a team of eighteen chefs. During this time however, he dreamed of returning home and as Glasgow started to transform itself into a vibrant cultural mecca, this dream started to look more and more realistic. He opened his restaurant in 2001 just as Glasgow’s rebirth was really beginning to get going. By combining fresh Scottish ingredients with the haute cuisine techniques he learnt in France, Brian has brought a touch of continental flair to the city’s food scene. Despite his success he has never taken a step back, and still works every day as head chef at Le Chardon.
As you approach the building, you are immediately struck by the neat white facade complete with columns and neat box window hedges. The glow from inside was warm and inviting and we were greeted by a large, open space just inside the front door. The hostess was very friendly and welcomed us almost as soon as we stepped in, before grabbing our coats and showing us to our table.
The restaurant interior is pleasant and the walls are painted various shades of pink and purple. Interesting artwork hang on the walls, and decorative cornices and skirting boards adorn their tops and bottoms. The space is an open plan, divided into sections with the dining area running along one side of the central lounge and the other dominated by the marble topped bar which is finished with dark wood panelling. Floral patterned blinds cover the windows, and the seating is a mixture of elegant black leather chairs and plush velvet bespoke bench seats. All in all, this gives the restaurant a classy and slightly antique feel – emphasized by the white linen tablecloths.
There area few different menus available depending on when you visit and what sort of experience you are after. We ordered from the pre-theatre menu which offers a choice of three different starters, mains, and desserts. To begin with I had a cream of leek and potato soup, and Chris went for the terrine of chicken and chorizo served with sun-blushed tomato, olives, and rocket.
I followed my soup with plaice served in tempura batter and accompanied by creamed leeks and fettuccini. This comes with a shellfish bisque however as the waiter warned me it was just a bit fishy, the chef kindly whipped me up a butter based garlic sauce instead. Chris ordered the duo of lamb with roasted celeriac and a rosemary jus.
We enjoyed our meals and everything which came our way was tasty and looked good on the plate, but I have to admit, I was really drawn to the items on the a la carte menu. With options like pan fried scallops with cauliflower puree and grilled chorizo, or roast guinea fowl breast with confit leg croquettes, pancetta and baby onions, it seems that this is where Brian’s talent really becomes apparent. Oh well, lesson learned, next time we will avoid the preset menu – unless it's a tasting menu :)
We left Le Chardon d’or satisfied having had a good meal and experienced the food of one of the best chefs Scotland has to offer. It's nice, central location means that it is a convenient place to eat for anyone who finds themselves in Glasgow, and foodies will especially enjoy its mix of Scottish and French influences. It would also make a good location for holding business lunches or for an after work meal with colleagues.
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