The Gorbals, named for a neighborhood in Glasgow, Scotland
The Gorbals, named for a neighborhood in Glasgow, Scotland, is a restaurant with a personal point of view: that of its chef, Ilan Hall. A graduate of both the pastry and cooking programs of the Culinary Institute of America, Hall spent time at both the school's New York and Napa Valley campuses where he began to develop his own individual style. His work at Craft for Tom Colicchio in New York and at Casa Mono, the Spanish tapas restaurant of Mario Batali, earned him a reputation for unique perspectives on traditional fare.
Hall went on to become famous as the young man who was the winner of the second season of "Top Chef." However, he has refused to be pigeonholed and defined by the qualities inherent in most of the show's winners. Rather than build dishes that reflect intellectual taste, Hall targets flavor. His food challenges the palate and gives diners at The Gorbals a fresh, fun take on traditional favorites.
Hall often drew on his Scottish and Israeli Eastern European roots for inspiration. The neighborhood where he grew up and for which his restaurant is named is on the south bank of the River Clyde. This area became dangerously overpopulated in the 1800s. In 1855 the Corporation of Glasgow acquired the Glasgow Waterworks Company and the Gorbals Gravitational Waterworks Company. The stocks of both companies were converted to annuities. These best annuity rates were secured on the waterworks and the rates charged by the companies. The neighborhood became damaged by industrialization, becoming home to poor working-class citizens. The Gorbals quickly became a dangerous slum where drinking and crime were the order of the day.
From this poor neighborhood came the Scottish-Jewish kid who would go on to challenge the world with his talent for cooking exceptional dishes. Hall's restaurant is often referred to as either Scottish or Jewish, but in truth it is so much more. The term "global immigrant" cuisine may be best applied to The Gorbals, where visitors can enjoy a wide range of food that is both down to earth and, at the same time, unlike anything they have ever eaten before. While some of the dishes remind diners of garage band fare, the meals are always excellent and are prepared by one of the world's most renowned young chefs.
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