Organ therapy in the heart of the west end!
A trip to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is, of course, worth it for all the paintings and exhibits on display (Mr Foodie previously wrote about visiting here) but if you time your visit correctly then you can also enjoy free recitals on the (over) 100-year-old organ, played by different performers every Monday to Saturday, at 1 pm. Whilst on a Sunday, the recital is at 3 pm.
Friday recitals have the bonus of free tours, allowing you upstairs to inspect the organ (ooh er), led by Kelvingrove’s honorary director of music, Dr James Hunter. Just before the recital, I joined Dr Hunter for a closer look at the organ.
Looking back, over my shoulder!
Now here’s a view that I never thought I’d see. Straight from the organ looking down.
A history of the organ
The organ was originally hired from Lewis & Co Ltd of Brixton, London for the 1901 International Exhibition. The concert hall of the exhibition didn’t have the best acoustics, so at the end of the exhibition, the organ was moved into the new Art Gallery & Museum.
Did you know that the organ front is false? The pieces we see above are entirely non-functional! The case-front is made from polished walnut and was designed by John W Simpson, senior partner of Simpson & Milner Allen, the architects of the Art Gallery & Museum.
The actual working pipes and bellows are housed behind and don’t look quite as decorative as out front.
Dr Hunter then explained how the various keyboards work, and the stops which provide the different notes.
The sound, and I now realise, the amount of work involved to produce that sound is a lot more complex than I imagined. It’s well worth visiting Kelvingrove to listen to the organ recital along with a cuppa (which you can buy in the cafe). I felt Christmassy, relaxed and it was fab to get some time out to listen to someone with skill playing a real instrument.
The KG Café in the basement
After all that culture it was time for lunch. There’s a casual cafe on the ground floor with sandwiches and cakes or go a further floor down for something more substantial. We did just that, deciding on the Christmas menu, and after hearing Frosty the Snowman played on the organ, it felt like the right decision.
It’s table service downstairs, the staff were chatty and friendly, and the huge glass box conservatory meant a lovely view across to Glasgow University tower and Kelvingrove Park.
I picked Chorizo and Smoked Paprika croquettes on top of a salad. Typical Spanish croquettes inside with a mix, I think of potato, cheese, chorizo and paprika. I would have liked more garlic/paprika personally but it still tasted good. They weren’t greasy so it was a tasty start to the meal.
My lunch date picked the soused herring, as it was a bit different from the usual museum cafe offerings. Vinegary herring served with potato and celery salad surrounded by a lightly spiced bloody mary sauce. Thumbs up again.
My main course was the vegetarian option of beetroot, puy lentil and sweet potato en croute with kale, pesto and herbed potatoes sounded different as well so I picked this. It was filling and great winter comfort food though the potatoes weren’t as amazeballs as I would have liked, so maybe another slice of en croute should be added instead of the potatoes.
The other main was spiced venison with root vegetables and buttered spaetzle. Spaetzle are a German egg noodle which is generally found in the South of Germany and Austria. Closer to home you can find it in Lidl – or Kelvingrove!
What a portion! Chunks of meat and veggies with a deep spicey and orange flavour. Very festive – this was the star of the menu here – I’d come back for this alone!
Of course, you can’t have a festive lunch without a decadent dessert. I picked the banana cheesecake with Tia Maria chocolate sauce. A light and fluffy cheesecake and just the right size for this kind of lunch. Ripe banana and creamy with a little bit of luxury with the chocolate sauce. Yum!
My date chose the panna cotta with passion fruit and mango compote. Another light and creamy dessert. Melt-in-the-mouth panna cotta with a compote that whacked your tastebuds.
What a day! The organ recital and tour is free – find out more HERE. To book the festive lunch at KGCafe call 0141 276 9565