Kool, calm and collected

Michelle Williams

… takes a look at the subtle side of fine dining in Glasgow

Noone likes a show off. The fastest route to securing eternal public hatred is surely to take the most un-British of steps, and point your merits out for all the world to hear. Take the over-inflated egos of the likes of Johnny Borrell and Kanye West — declaring yourself as the greatest songwriter of your generation, or portraying yourself as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone are hardly conventional routes to making friends. They can’t both be right about being the best, and after such shameless crowing, one is more than inclined to suspect that neither of them is.

We can’t even forgive such behaviour in those with a back catalogue genuinely worth shouting about; Ringo Starr’s brusque rejection of future fan mail on the grounds of being too busy is sure to have earned him bags full of far less desirable correspondence. No no, such shameless self-promotion offends our sensibilities — we prefer a good modest, unpretentious sort. We want unsung acts of charity; we want unprecedented talent hidden behind bashful self-deprecation.

The same premise can be applied to restaurant dining. The most successful establishments caress us into a wonderful experience without needing to point out that we’re having a good time, or eating spectacular food. Koolba, located in the Merchant City achieves this understated quality with aplomb. Serving a fusion of Persian and Indian cuisine, this family run restaurant puts its emphasis on sourcing local, high quality ingredients, prepared with a genuine devotion to excellence.

Brothers Cesar and Fattah are reverently proud of their endeavour, eager to stress the thought put into the concise menu; our dishes arrive with an earnest promise that the rice is naturally coloured with saffron, as though the very thought of an artificial alternative would deeply offend.

The Persian section of the menu centres around barbeque style cooking, offering a healthier alternative to much of the Indian food served in alternative restaurants. Indian dishes on the menu are more subtly spiced than equivalent recipes you might be accustomed to, but this deliberate step has been taken in order to give full attention to the quality of the ingredients in each dish, rather than overpowering them with chillies.

The delicious platter we tasted, comprising barbequed chicken, vegetable curry, chicken chatt and feather light naans, came with recommendations from the carefully chosen wine list, picked to complement lightly spiced food — a thoughtful touch to round off a wonderfully understated experience.

KoolBa has kindly offered staff and students of Glasgow uni 20% off their food bill upon production of a valid matric card (December 2008 and February 14th excluded, valid until 30/06/2008). Also, if you book your graduation dinner at KoolBa before 31st July 2009 (quoting ‘Glasgow Graduation Party Offer’), receive 20% off your food bill plus a free glass of sparkling wine for you and each of your guests upon arrival.

109-113 Candleriggs, Glasgow – 0141 55 22 777


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