Rioja Finnieston is now open to the public, but what did we think of it when we visited during its launch event? Read on to find out!
As someone who has never had a meal with a set menu, walking into Rioja Finnieston for the first time was an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. However, despite being outside my comfort zone, I knew that I was in good hands.
Helmed by Spanish Michelin-starred chef Miguel Angel Mayor, this new opening in Glasgow’s West End marries Spanish culinary history and Scottish produce to create a mix of tapas staples as well as chef Miguel’s more modern food creations. The evening’s menu was curated by Miguel himself in celebration of the opening and featured menu staples as well as a few just for the occasion. Far from a culinary veteran, it’s safe to say that it was very much a night of firsts for me.
The starter was perhaps the most daunting part of the night. As someone who often struggles with seafood, fear of the unknown was a missive hindrance to my culinary journey. However, once I took the leap, I was delighted to find out that my fears were unwarranted as I was greeted by a range of delightful dishes The rusa de buey de mar, was a tasty dish that provides a Mediterranean vibe while using Scottish crab.
The gilda, pepino and vermouth was a collection of treats served upon a small cucumber and the gazpacho translucido was a tasty cold, clear soup served in a small glass, which proved to be an excellent companion to the rest of the starters. The most nerve-wracking dish was the ostra moretum – oysters. However, I let me faith in Miguel’s creations guide me and what I found was a delicious dish.
Next up was the second course which featured tartar de ciervo ahumado - smoked deer tartare - and canape de pollo y pulpo - chicken and octopus canape. This was where the unique culinary creations really started to show themselves. Served with gelatin and egg, the smoked deer tartare was a surprise hit. While the texture was unusual at first, the flavours captured inside made it worth taking that first bite.
The chicken and octopus canape, served on chicken skin, was perhaps my favourite dish of the evening, providing a delicious blend of flavours, which paired well with the sample of ginger crackers, a fantastic and creative side dish that I crave when I think about.
Next up was the third course which was the delightful Melon Cordero – a serving of roast lamb stew inside a literal melon! Reminiscent of a bread bowl soup or stew, this dish brought a true sense of warmth of comfort to the proceedings.
Wrapping things up with desert was sanda, sangria, Irn-Bru, chocolate blanco and fresas. A love affair of Chef Miguel combined Scotland’s love of Irn-Bru with white chocolate and strawberries, Chef Miguel has created a delightfully refreshing desert.These were accompanied by melon soaked in sangria, which brought one last taste of Spain to round off the night.
A delicious adventure from start to finish, Rioja Finnieston proved to not only expand my culinary mind but also provide a delicious meal that was worth every bite. If you enjoy a taste of Spanish cuisine, don’t miss out on this fantastic exploration of Spanish gastronomy.