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Issue 1 - Nick Nairn's Glasgow

Scotland Magazine Issue 1
March 2002


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Nick Nairn's Glasgow

Gordon Ramsay is not the only famous chef working in Glasgow - Nick's resturant, Nairns, has been open since 1997. We caught up with Nick to find out about his Glasgow

Nick became a chef after leaving the Merchant Navy in 1983 – and learned his trade quickly. In 1991 he earned his first Michelin Star, and in 1996 was the focus of a BBC series and book, Wild Harvest.

Q: How long have you lived and/or worked in Glasgow?
A: I’ve lived in Glasgow on and off for 15 years and worked here for the past seven.

Q: How would you describe the city to someone who’s never visited it?
A: A vibrant cosmopolitan and friendly centre. It’s one of the best shopping centres in Europe, with great bars – and, of course, has fantastic restaurants.

Q: What are, to you, the city’s main attractions?
A: Being on the Clyde, I think. Glasgow’s also got the best parks I’ve seen. I love Queens Park and Rouken Glen on the south side, and the
Botanic Gardens is a big magnet on (all-too-rare) sunny days. There’s also a great arty vibe with so many galleries and print studios around.
Of course, the vast choice of great restaurants and bars give the city a terrific buzz.

Q: What’s the best thing about Glasgow?
A: Definitely the people. You can have the most beautiful city, but it means nothing without friendly faces. Glaswegians certainly know how to enjoy themselves properly and have adopted a great cosmopolitan outlook.

Q: And the worst?
A: Litter. It’s everywhere. It’s horrible. I just don’t understand the mentality of people who can’t just put it in the bin!

Q: Has devolution changed Glasgow and Scotland as a whole in your eyes?
A: Not enough!

Q: Who are your Scottish heroes – historical and contemporary?
A: At this time of year Robert Burns comes to mind, still a great ambassador for Scotland. Contemporary are sporting heroes – Graham Obree, David Coulthard and Colin McCrae. I have the utmost respect for these guys and a touch of the green-eyed monster; cars and cycling are my favourite pastimes!

Q: Is there anywhere you regularly go to eat in the city?
A: I have to say my own restaurant, Nairns. Derek, my head chef produces fantastic food. Really honest cooking, made using simply excellent produce.

Q: Do you have a favourite bar or pub – if so, which one, where is it and why?
A: Stravaigin in Gibson Street. No puggies, no loud music, good beer, great chat and top staff. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to go that often, but it’s good when I do.

Q: Is there any way Glasgow could be improved in your opinion?
A: Back to the litter again. Glasgow is such a beautiful city, but I’m afraid I notice the litter first. It’s not just street rubbish, it’s commercial stuff on pavements too. There’s no excuse – bigger cities manage well enough.

Q: Which is it – Rangers or Celtic?
A: Rangers, who else?

Q: What’s the best restaurant in Glasgow apart from your own?
A: Restaurants come and go and I still keep going back to Rogano.

Q: Do you shop in Glasgow? If so, where do you favour for clothes and luxury goods?
A: For clothes I love Cruise and Dr Jives, Slanj on West George St for trousers and for luxury stuff it has to be Frasers. Sarti’s for edible stuff, too.

Q: Do you buy produce for your restaurants locally?
A: Yes, but not necessarily local to Glasgow – our meat comes from Jonathan, the Aberfoyle butcher. I really wouldn’t buy meat from anybody else. Loads of the restaurant’s fish and shellfish comes from the Western Isles, and as much produce comes from our vegetable
garden as possible.

Q: What’s your favourite local dish?
A: Spiced smoked haddock at Mother India – true fusion food!