After months, I finally made it over to the Gorbals a few weeks ago. First, it was hard to get in, then it was closed for a while, then I waited for an event that never happened because Gorbals was having so many issues and then I never made it over to Artwalk (where reportedly Ilan Hall was giving freebies on the street). So l randomly popped in one night to check it out.
Well, they welcomed us with open arms, literally. The hostess was so cheerful she mentioned she wanted to give us hugs for coming in. Really.
Then she offered us any seat in the house. We chose a small two-top by the front entrance. I had a great view of all the people coming into the hotel for some fashion shoot next door. My other choice would have been at the bar to watch the kitchen. They also have a large communal table.
The menu has 13 savories and 3 desserts. We chose 5 of the savories but no dessert. If we hadn’t just had bourbon pecan pie around the corner at Cole’s for happy hour, I would have tried out the sticky toffee pudding. The Israeli cous cous with pumpkin ice cream also sounded interesting.
Prices ranged from $7-15. Desserts were $5 each.
We ordered the marrow topped with King oyster mushrooms and walnuts, bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, octopus & gizzards, Manischewitz-braised pork belly and oxtail with creamy oats and crispy tripe.
Everything came in the reverse order we ordered so we started with the oxtail.
I liked it and thought the super thinly sliced tripe was pretty good with it. But then the pork belly came and we gobbled that up. We had too as the octopus was hitting the table.
The octopus with gizzards and lemon was my favorite dish of the night. I’ve had better octopus but this was pretty good. Actually, the gizzards were better in this dish. Where did they find such plump gizzards? Some may find the octopus to be a little too grilled as it lacked the creaminess of some grilled octopus I’ve had in the past (perhaps they could marinate it in olive oil?). The citrus really worked well with this dish.
Next came the bacon-wrapped matzoh balls. The bacon was very flavorful. I liked the texture of the matzoh balls and agree with Gastronomnom that it reminded me of polenta. They had that same grainy texture. Otherwise, the matzoh balls were pretty fluffy.
Finally, we had the marrow which was quite beautiful to look at. But I felt there were too many things wrong with this dish to fully enjoy it. First, the walnuts. They were bitter. They needed to be soaked to be rid of their bitter skins. And they should be chopped as the pieces were way too big but I would get rid of them all together. I liked the mushrooms but I like mushrooms. I can see how some people might think they were overcooked though as they were probably a tad bit chewy. But I like to think they were just “meaty.”
I also think they should have given us additional silverware to scoop the marrow. I used my knife which I had been using all night to scrape up sauces, oats, gizzards and whatnot. And finally, let’s talk about this crostini they gave us with the marrow. There were three triangular pieces that were rather floppy. Turns out they were smeared with tomato. Um, okay? Could that flavor be what was competing against the bitter walnuts and the strongly acidic vinaigrette?
I thought service was very good. They refilled our tiny cups of water often. Gorbals does have a liquor list as well as beer and wine. We met Matt, a manager who got us more crostini when we mentioned we didn’t have enough pieces for that bad boy of a marrow.
The server mentioned the plates are small plates but 5 plates were probably too much for two people. Judging from the pictures taken when Gorbals first opened to my pictures, I think the portions are a bit bigger now. Presentation is different as well. It’s always good to know the chef is always tweaking the food and welcomes feedback.
The Gorbals started doing lunch recently What’s next happy hour? Actually, that’d be a good thing!
I went for lunch about 1ish and was slightly disappointed to see a much abbreviated lunch menu than food bloggers had been posting online. The day’s offerings included the burger, chicken thigh sandwich, cucumber salad, gribenes (chicken skin) BLT, chips & dill and salad with chicken confit. Something had been scratched off the chalkboard menu and I asked the server about the bacon-wrapped matzo balls as I felt my coworker should try ’em. Luckily for us, chef Ilan Hall whipped us up some.
My coworker opted for the burger and I tried the chicken sandwich. Both came with odd thin white bread which was later said to be sourdough. I thought they were thin white bread pressed into a waffle-y mold. My coworker’s was well toasted but mine was rather stark white. The thinness of the bread was not much of a barrier from the heat of the chicken but I made do.
My chicken was quite juicy and delicious. I’d order this again, especially at $6.
However, I’m not sure I’d order the burger (also $6) after surveying it. My coworker said it needed some salt and perhaps onions. Pepper? She wasn’t sure but it was somewhat lacking. And even came with less fries than my sandwich.
Fries though addicting were extremely salty. The sea salt was great but I didn’t taste much dill.
We were too full to order anything else but one day soon I’m going back to try dessert!
Or psssttt…happy hour!!