"Appetising food, deftly seasoned but the service is hovering on the edge of reason", Ron Mackenna's review

·4-min read
Malaga Tapas in Clarkston.. STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..9/8/22.
Malaga Tapas in Clarkston.. STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..9/8/22.

Malaga Tapas Clarkston

OOPS, sorry, sorry, excuse me, I say to the ladies sitting underneath the awkwardly placed specials board, as I lean over their table like a hippo on rollers taking a photo of the chalk scribbles.

Then it’s blunder my way back between tightly packed tables to get to our tiny one below the serving area and work out what to have to eat.

It may be that the staff were going to eventually and slickly arrive with a list of tonight’s fresh dishes but in the time we’ve been in, I kinda doubt that.

I’m picking up a vibe that the service in here right now may be teetering on the edge of reason; the place filled to bursting on this Thursday evening, staff log-jamming behind us, talking intensely, then whizzing by out onto the floor.

Too often, one will stop with plates in hand and look down quizzically: nope, we’ll shake our heads and they’ll buzz off again.

Too often we’ll have to do the dreaded double ask and at one point I’ll get up (again) as I see a waiter lingering behind more counter chat with the salt and pepper I requested so long ago (they don’t seem to actually have any ready) in his hand. Pfft.

Expectations then for the food in this brand new suburban outpost of the well respected Malaga Tapas, tonight anyway are, er, somewhat low.

But that Presa Iberica: pork shoulder, with crispy potatoes, simple, cut across the grain, sprinkled strangely with big lumps of salt and some parsley, has Joe and myself nodding.

Doesn’t really look like a £9 dish when it arrives, but this is pretty good. The meat tender, light throughout, turns out to be deftly seasoned too, caramelised and those fried potatoes crumble appetisingly.

Pollos Burgos next, a creamy, gooey-looking dish at a reasonable £6.95; chicken and black pudding in a sauce of slow cooked pepper and sherry.

This is sweet, savoury with that promised lingering sherry kick and while it looks like it has been slapped in the bowl by someone in a big hurry, we’re enjoying it.

From here on in we’re pretty much into Tapas Central Casting: fritura mixta, a few hunks of fried white fish, coley maybe, with aioli, tastes though like it was prepared from scratch here.

Okey-dokey meatballs in tomato sauce follow and now we’re dipping into their own Croquettas de Pollo.

Those crisp, breaded potato balls – there is definitely some chicken in here – are too custardy wet inside for me, but the Pan Garum when it eventually arrives, and believe me that’s a while, is toast triangles very thickly spread with olive and anchovy tapenade that, priced at £3.25, nobody is going to be complaining about.

Now. There is a Patatas Gratinatas, bubbled under the salamander or blowtorch and served in one of those little terracotta dishes that are everywhere nowadays, including the tapas chains, and it’s fine. But we feel dessert is still needed.

So after considering the easy and ubiquitous Crema Catalona and Torta Santiago we go for churros.

Difficult to get these wrong and they don’t: serving up a reasonable portion

for a reasonable £4.95. Watery sauce though.

I ordered vanilla ice cream too, at £4.95 and once again this sends the message that tonight anyway, Mathew, things are not fully under control in that small kitchen.

It’s like someone got distracted half-way through scooping it out and then just wandered off. Meh. We eat it anyway.

Now. It would be easy to ask: does the world really need another tapas restaurant? Clarkston clearly does – given how amazingly busy it has already been in here (I checked it out last night too).

That’s probably because Malaga Tapas Original has a reputation for not relying, like so many other places do, on the contents of a freezer van for its menu.

There’s just enough hand-crafted, albeit harum-scarum, stuff in here to suggest that in Clarkston they’ll be doing the same.

But they need to sort some things out.

Malaga Tapas Clarkston

9 Eaglesham Road,

Clarkston

Glasgow

Opening Hours: til 9pm

Tel: Not listed on internet.

Menu: It’s a tapas restaurant, do we really need to go over it? All the usual suspects plus a few specials including Presa Iberica, Pollos Burgos and a fritura mixta. 3

Service: Recently opened, clearly struggling to cope, needs some system in place, but young Spanish staff very pleasant, at least, when they had a moment. 3

Atmosphere: Shop front restaurant that’s not the biggest, all the atmosphere came from the the hustle and bustle of customers. I’ll give them bonus points for the buzz. 4

Price: Hard to reason given the Iberica Pork was £8.95, but lots of dishes hover around the fiver or just above, and nowadays, that’s not at all bad. 4

Food: At times the dishes were very carelessly put out, too many identikit aiolis as well, but behind all that there are some signs this could be the handmade tapas place the original Malaga Tapas is. Iberico good, Pollos Burgos decent. 6

Total: 20/30