"Best restaurant in the Universe" — Ilan Hall
Chef-owner Ilan Hall named The Gorbals after a diverse immigrant neighborhood of Glasgow, Scotland, where his father grew up rubbing elbows with neighbors from Pakistan, Russia, India, and Eastern Europe. Like Hall's Israeli Scottish Russian German heritage and The Gorbals' mishmash of cultures, the restaurant can't be pigeonholed into a specific background. Instead, it celebrates a joyful cultural synthesis with a pan-ethnic menu of contemporary gourmet small plates and desserts: banh mi poutine mingles with dry-aged burgers, and latkes and applesauce share table space with welsh rabbit and grilled squid. A wine list and a spirits menu complement each dish with rich, complex European vinos, smoky scotches and woodsy bourbons, or perfectly balanced classic cocktails. The menu's shareable spirit makes The Gorbals especially suitable for group dining occasions.
Before opening up The Gorbals, Hall cut his culinary teeth as a teenager in the Lorenzo de Medici school’s Apicius program in Florence. He proceeded to hone his chef's knife at esteemed locales such as Charlie Palmer's Aureole New York and Mario Batali's Casa Mono. Most visitors may recognize Hall from his appearance on Bravo TV's Top Chef, where he claimed victory in the second season after defeating all other chefs in unarmed combat. Hall also hosts the Esquire Network's Knife Fight, a series of underground cooking competitions whose first two seasons were filmed inside The Gorbals.
Inside the whimsical and colorful little cottage that is The Classroom, magical things are happening. Old objects transform into beautiful items made new during salvaged jewelry classes; plants find a new home in terrarium-making sessions; and plain fabric is reconfigured into tasteful tote bags. The center's various classes?including a monthly-gathering craft club?encourage members of the community to join together and share inspiration, ideas, and their thoughts on whether or not glue tastes kind of good.