A Diamond in the 'Rough' - Artisan, Wishaw

As I sit in my tiger onesie sipping on a cup of tea, I truly appreciate how good life is.  Having also just returned from an amazing meal just up the road, my level of contentment is through the roof.

My father called me earlier this evening to let me know he was going to be late home to make the dinner - then comes the ultimatum...
"You can cook yourself something, or just go out for dinner."  Really, father?  As if that question needed thought.  Needless to say, fate brought me and my friend Suzanne to the Artisan restaurant in Wishaw.

Artisan is based on the main street - if you have ventured up there recently, it looks like a small scale version of the Edinburgh tram works.  Do not fear, as cleverly crafted walkways allow you to still reach this small haven with plenty of parking available nearby.  I do realise that Wishaw isn't the cheeriest of places, but I can guarantee you that not even the neds will wipe the smile off of your face after a visit here.

The Artisan Facade

Entering Artisan is almost like coming in to a country pub, with the reception/bar area cut into the wall.  There is a small seating area to the right, next to the bar, and a small staircase up to another level on the left for the peak times.  The smaller seating area was where we were seated.  I was going to try and take a picture for you all, but I didn't want to give the other diners a complex by randomly snapping photographs of their heads - the walls are shelved, and each shelf is packed with what I can only guess to be at least 200 different types of whiskey.  It gave the restaurant a very comfortable and patriotic feel, and it's something you should see for yourself!

The waitress who served us (I believe her name was Jennifer) could not be faulted.  She was really lovely, and served the patrons of the restaurant single handedly, without ever looking bored or irritated.  She gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu, and offered us a lovely appetiser of warm bread with a serving of 'chimichurri' (South American dip for breads).  It was a lovely thick paste, which tasted like tomatoes, chilli and onions blended.  It was delicious, and it has only just occurred to me that I forgot to purchase a bottle before I left! Such a bargain at £1.95 as well...

Warm baguette bread with Chimichurri

The menu on offer was a set menu with 2 courses for £12.95, or 3 courses for £15.95 running Sunday through Thursday.  The food is all based on good Scottish ingredients, such as black pudding, haggis, and salmon.  I chose the Orkney smoked salmon resting on a bed of dressed leaves to begin with, followed by a medium rare fillet steak (surprised?) and a side of onion rings.  My dear companion Suzanne opted for the homemade chicken liver pate served with dressed leaves, onion jam and toasted bread, and of course followed by a fillet steak.

Homemade chicken liver pate

The portions in Artisan are really amazing value for money, and Suzanne was set with a slab of pate.  It was really something beautiful, with a strong meaty flavour and a fantastic smooth texture.  The onions were caramelised, so added a lovely sweet tone to each bite.  The toasted bread was crunchy on the outside, yet warm and doughy in the middle.  Balsamic vinegar dressing is always a pleasure, and the lovely leafy salad was coated in the stuff.  Pate is always a popular starter, and for this restaurant I would strongly recommend that you get this!

Orkney Smoked Salmon

I love smoked salmon, with a capital L-O-V-E.  The meat was thinly cut, and heavily layered over a leafy salad, dressed with my favourite balsamic vinegar dressing.  The salmon was fresh, smoky, light and downright delicious.  I love squeezing fresh lemon over my salmon, and the massive wedge I got was the perfect accompaniment to add a lovely bitter sting to the mellow salmon and the sweet dressing of the salad. I would highly recommend this salmon to all fish lovers!

Medium rare fillet steak on a bed of fried onions, served with thick cut chips

You will know by now that steak is my vice.  I am willing to pay through the nose for a decent cut of beef, and considering there was only a £5 supplement for this piece of heaven, I feel like Artisan is a revelation.  The meat was perfectly ruby red inside, and so incredibly tender that the steak knife really had no purpose.  The juices from the steak were flowing and made this an absolutely incredible, mouth watering, miracle piece of steak...dare I say it has been the best?  I am tempted.  The chips were soft and fluffy and incredibly thick, and I love mixing a cut of the roasted tomato with a chip for a sweet and savoury taste.  The fried onions with the steak gave the meat a spectacular flavour without overpowering the meal, and of course I had my side of onion rings.  Suzanne and I sat in silence for a good 5 minutes (a rarity in our friendship) at the pure elation brought on by this meal.

Onion rings!

Served with a side of creamy garlic mayonnaise, these onion rings were absolutely massive both in size and in portion.  The light batter was crunchy, although I do prefer mine a little softer than most.  Nevertheless, they were delicious and I wouldn't have an issue with ordering them again.

Cracked black pepper and brandy sauce, and the vegetable sides

With the steak came a massive sauce boat filled with a delicious creamy cracked black pepper and brandy sauce.  The vegetables were boiled potatoes, mangetouts and red cabbage.  Personally, I really don't like boiled potatoes - I think they are the most boring way to prepare a potato and it tastes bland!  This in no way reflects the culinary genius at Artisan, and due to my strong opinions on boiled potatoes, they were left untouched.  The mangetouts were crunchy and the cabbage was slightly vinegary but lovely.  The vegetables were perfect to go with the steaks, and they were a nicely sized portion considering the heap of chips we got and the mountain of onion rings!

After attempting to conquer the feast, sadly both Suzanne and I had to hang up our napkins, and put down the cutlery.  Jennifer kindly offered to give us the onion rings away with us, but I was close to bursting and knew that I would nibble on them all the way home.

For an appetiser, two wonderful starters, two fillet steak main courses and a side, the bill was a jaw-dropping £39.40.  I would have paid just about that price alone, had I visited a steakhouse for this exact meal.  The bottom line is, if you stay in the Lanarkshire area, and you're craving a steak, a pragmatic solution is to go to Artisan.  Amazing food, lovely interior, fantastic staff, belter prices.

Contact Details:

249 - 251 Main Street

Tel: 01698 373893

Website: http://www.artisan-restaurant.com/

Wheelchair access: Yes

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