Includes information about: The Three Judges, The halt, Ronnie Clydesdale, la parmigiana, Save our Botanics, Stefan King, Hogmanay Ashton lane, OranMor, Allan Mawm, Pinxto.
They came, they saw, they conquered. Thanks to a dodgy decision by the Spanish ref in their favour the world's best football team came within an ace of losing to the world's flakiest and most unpredictable side - ie, us - but the end result was tens of thousands of desperately disappointed Scots.
The plus side of the Scotland v Italy match, 'though, was that every pub in the city with a Sky screen was mobbed, in one of the most successful nights of its kind for years.
Successful not just in the trading sense, either, but in terms of the numbers of people who crowded into pubs without causing any trouble at all - if anything in many areas, not least the West End, it was a quieter and more peaceable Saturday than usual.
Two bars I passed, Tennent's and The Aragon in Byres Road, had capacity crowds, and also in each case a forlorn huddle of would-be customers standing outside trying to see the game on the screen through the pub window.
The Three Judges at Partick Cross was a football free zone, but not for long. Five minutes after the game a deluge of customers from others bars which had shown the game came pouring in, including a couple dressed in bright red jackets and wearing tam o'shanters sprouting huge peackock feathers - who both looked miserable.
Then, to the regulars' amazement, a retired BBC chap who is some sort of professional chorister stood in the middle of the bar - completely sober - and sang the whole of Dougie McLean's immortal "Caledonia" to deathly silence, followed by rapturous applause. It's the sort of bizarre piece of Glasgow folk culture that could only happen in a pub.
The best result of the night, though, was the surprise reopening of The Halt bar in Woodlands Road, which a few days before I was bemoaning had lain empty for four months with no apparent sign of life.
The early signs are that this venerable bar, a leased pub, has been relaunched with all guns blazing.
A large sign outside reads "Open for Business" and an even larger banner in the window proclaims that here's the very place to watch Sky Sports: in fact, with considerable panache, the bar reopened (with hours to spare) in nice time to show the afore-said Scotland v Italy game.
The bar is also to regain its former reputation as a significant music venue (that is, in its former lounge bar), with plans to stage live music there most nights of the week.
This is great news on all counts: the Lobey Dosser statue across the road needs an good traditional bar as counterpoint, and the pub occupies a place in local social life no other kind of business could hope to fill.
West End restaurateurs generally are a quiet and unassuming bunch, who seldom go out on a limb. Some will offer intelligent arguments on matters culinary, if pressed, but seldom say anything terribly outspoken.
Ronnie Clydesdale of the Ubiquitous Chip is perhaps one major exception, as he has long-held strong views on Scottish food and food preparation.
So congratulations to Peppino Camilli, head chef at long-established Kelvinbridge Italian restaurant La Parmigiana, as well as Paperino's West in Byres Road and its sister venue in town.
It turns out he has equally robust convictions about his own native Italian cuisine - and no time at all for those who get it, as he sees it, very badly wrong.
Peppino says it's about time chefs in "some" - unspecified - Scottish restaurants started serving up proper Italian food and not what he says are dumbed-down, inferior local derivatives - and he implies the worst culprits are non-Italians, for example Scottish and French chefs, trying to produce Italian cuisine. "Dabbling" as he puts it, cuttingly.
He asserts bluntly that many non-Italian chefs are serving up "inferior, bland, pale imitations of authentic Italian dishes."
Unlike these bumbling non-Italians, he adds, he was taught to cook by his (Italian, obviously) grandmother.
'Take bolognese," he complains. "Many British chefs make the mistake of putting garlic on a bolognese, thinking that this is what Italian chefs do.
"They don't! In Italy, we never put garlic on a bolognese. It's not true that we Italians always use a lot of garlic - we only use garlic when it's appropriate to do so."
The refreshingly forthright chef also has strong opinions about what herbs should be used in Italian cooking - and they don't include coriander, that most standard of Asian culinary ingredients.
He notes that it's particularly popular with celebrity chefs, whom he despises - I know this, because he's put 'celebrity chefs' in inverted commas - and says that as a herb it's "absolutely disgusting".
And he's not finished: "There are so many herbs to choose from, such as parsley, which is beautiful and far superior to coriander, yet all the famous chefs always seem to use coriander."
Peppino cooks pasta the way his grandmother taught him back in Monte Prandone, we're told, while "not all Italian restaurants in Glasgow serve genuine Italian recipes".
Does your favourite Italian serve real arrabiatta sauce?
The first two protest meetings about Stefan King's plan to open a nightclub in the derelict railway tunnel beneath the Botanic Gardens were crowded, noisy affairs - the second in particular saw civil servant Robert Booth subjected to insulting barracking as he laboured to put over the facts as he saw them.
The contrast between these excitable rallies and last week's meeting of the campaign group Save Our Botanics, in the Grosvenor Hotel, couldn't have been sharper. There were still pointed comments directed at speakers by members of the audience, and plenty of minor disagreements about which tactics should be adopted - but everybody was "on the same side", and the atmosphere was more that of an unusually large and highly charged community council meeting.
SOB chairman David Howat used the meeting effectively to launch a fundraising campaign (which may be used, for example, to fund legal moves.) He spelled out the need for a student boycott of G1 venues (the firm has several high profile West End assets), and together with other speakers reprised all of the many reasons why the protesters are convinced the nightclub plan cannot be allowed to go ahead.
One protestor said a marquee site planned as part of the G1 Botanics project was evidence that G1 aimed to gain lucrative weddings business currently enjoyed by Oran Mor across the road. It was pointed out that the Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace make an unbeatable background for wedding photography.
One lady in the audience suggested the tunnel should be investigated to find if it contains a bat colony. If it does - and nobody seems to have considered the possibility until now - apparently it immediately acquires a special protected status.
However it appears more likely that a developing argument about whether part of the ground level site around the proposed project is "common good land" may prove a bigger potential obstacle to the scheme.
This has been aired in the press, along with the helpful information that the concept of common good land was inaugurated by Robert the Bruce (more properly, King Robert I), which is a fun thing to put in an otherwise dull headline about obscure land rights legislation.
In a period when much or most land was owned by the church, the crown or the aristocracy, guaranteed common land which anybody could use freely was clearly a good idea.
These days the effect could be to deny a private operator the ability to run a business or a comprehensive lease agreement on such an area.
The issue has been given the taint of "legal morass" in press accounts, and at the same time normally reliable reports suggest the council is taking a less accommodating view of the G1 project. Negotiations are understood to be continuing about the lease.
On a different but related front, several Labour politicians have let it be known they are deeply unhappy about the way their present constituents and potential future voters feel about pubs and disorder in the West End, and about the nightclub plan in particular.
SOB has made it clear it aims to exploit this internal Labour Party dissonance to maximum effect.
G1, amid all these apparent major difficulties, has some cause for consolation. The company recently announced trading results showing a significant increase, and last week opened its latest Edinburgh venture - an opulent boutique hotel in Picardy Place.
Stefan King has made it clear that he sets out to see projects through to the finish - and that he's completely convinced by the logic of his plan - and there could yet be a long and noisy battle ahead as the scheme heads towards key hurdles planning and licensing.
One of the most interesting exhibits at the SOB meeting, regardless of all this stramash, was an illustration from a Glasgow newspaper of (I think) 1820 or so, which shows a red-jacketed cavalryman wearing an extravagant brass helmet escorting his Jane Austen-style lady friend around the gardens - a picture advertising the Botanics of the day as a quality sort of place to see and be seen.
Most recently a local eco-enthusiast, in a prominent feature in The Herald, has told of his dream to turn the tunnel site into an international tourist attraction as an eco-centre.
However so far only Stefan King's G1 Group has said it can meet the capital cost of redeveloping the site, estimated at £7m.
We'll have more on Christmas menus and Christmas specials in general in a week or so, but meanwhile the well-organised venues in Ashton Lane have already got their festive act together with another New Year street party on Hogmanay.
The fun starts at 8pm with an outdoor stage performance by Tigers On Vaseline, a Bowie tribute band, and we're also promised DJ's in the bars, pipers and fireworks.
But there will be no whooping and jigging until the wee hours, because the event finishes at 1am on the dot, and quite right too - bar staff work like slaves all year round and deserve some time off too. And a decent tip.
Tickets for the event are on sale now at Brel, Jinty's, Vodka Wodka and The Grosvenor, and - I particularly like this - the tickets will ONLY be sold to locals.
This means people who give the bars their support all year, and not just at busy weekends, won't find they can't get in.
The cost is £20, and you need to prove your authentic West End resident's status with something like a utility bill or driving licence.
It will also be mandatory for all males attending on the night to wear corduroy trousers as an extra West End identification: no it won't, I just made that bit up.
If Ashton Lane Hogmanay is your thing I'd move fast. Brel is limiting tickets to four per person. Nobody will be allowed into the lane with a carry out, and nobody will be allowed in after 10.30pm.
The result of these few but necessary rules should be a highly enjoyable party with which to bring in the New Year with friends and other convivial revellers in pleasant surroundings, and with plenty of entertainment to hand.
Hogmanay in the Auditorium in Oran Mor is already sold out - in this regard I think it's becoming Glasgow's Edinburgh Military Tattoo of Hogmanay celebrations; the sort of event that could probably sell tickets twice over if it had the space.
But while talking about the need to act quickly if you want to book something special December 25 is still an option at Oran Mor Auditorium. The cost is £25, the menu looks reassuringly traditional, and there's one sitting and one sitting only - doors open 12.30pm, meal served 1pm.
Still in Oran Mor, admirers of the national drink may note that there's a customer sampling night of the Bowmore 12-year-old on December 2 at 6.30pm.
December 1 meanwhile sees the start of a whole programme of special Christmas party nights going right through to December 22 - just the thing, perhaps, for a gathering with friends from out of town; or even the better sort of office bash. They're priced £49 and £50, have an enticing menu, and will probably sell out very quickly.
More on the West End festive drinking and dining scene to follow.
We've had The Battle of The Botanics - which is currently undergoing a brief lull in hostilities while the rival camps amass their forces for the next offensive - but The Battle of The Byre is, in its smaller-scale way, perhaps just as interesting.
If you haven't read about it in the papers, I'm referring to the attempt by Stefan King's G1 Group to prevent Oran Mor (etc) owner Colin Beattie from calling the former Club 500 at Partick Cross "The Byre" , which of course alludes both to Byres Road and to former pub (now Whistler's Mother) The Byre.
Colin received a stiff note from G1's solicitor telling him to desist, claiming that the company has the copyright to the name. I can confirm that Mr Beattie is in no wise minded to cave in, and has taken to displaying signs on the premises in question which have included, for example, "The Oran Mor Byre" and "The Oor Wullie Byre". All we need is for DC Thomson to send a stiff note of their own, jings crivvens, and the drama will be complete. I'm holding fire for the time being on my own plan to open an Irish theme bar called Desperate Dan's.
Mr Beattie observes, correctly, that there are many places around Scotland which employ the phrase "The Byre", of which possibly the best-known is The Byre Theatre, St Andrews (not, last time I checked, run by G1). Mr King's company, meanwhile, has reportedly accused Mr Beattie of persisting with The Byre in the hope of winning free advertising for his venture - although actually word gets around the West End fairly quickly, and in fact a mere poster in the foyer of Oran Mor would probably alert a few thousand potential customers to the fact.
The general argument on names is not a new one. The bar formerly known as Bloody Mary (or Mary's) in Vinicombe Street is now Booly Mardi's because of a similar insistence on a copyright - although it remains a minor mystery, if only to me, how you can take out such a copyright on either the nickname of a notoriously vicious English monarch or the vodka-and-tomato juice cocktail which this inspired.
The Houston Brewery, some years back, had to drop the "Saint" from its "Saint Peter's Well" beer because the Saint Peter's brewery about 500 miles away got to hear about it - so even canonisation is no defence against copyright law, apparently.
In Stirling, too, a restaurant called Barbacoa (Spanish for "barbecue") hit the buffers because a major hotel group insisted it had the rights to this name for one of its restaurant brands - and no doubt there are many other, equally fatuous, examples.
As I write this assorted lawyers are no doubt oiling their tills in expectation of the coming fray, so we'll let them get on with it for the time being - and look forward eagerly to the new bar Colin plans to install in the old 500 by and by. It has possibly the best smoking facilities I've seen in this part of the West End, and will, I think, be very popular for this reason alone - but much more is planned inside, and hopefully the name spat will quickly be forgotten when the full plot is unveiled.
Quite by chance I bumped into kenspeckle West End restaurateur Ronnie Clydesdale, founder of the famous Ubiquitous Chip and its numerous spinoffs (which include the Stravaigin restaurants in Gibson St and Ruthven Lane run by his son Colin) and mentioned I'd very much enjoyed the Indonesian rijstaffel night this month - happens in Stravaigin 2 second Tuesday of every month. Ronnie confessed he had seen the names of the dishes on the blackboard outside and could hardly pronounce them, and I agree - Gulai Kambing is mutton curry, if that's a help - but the food is magnificent.
Quite amusing, too, to notice diners enjoying more conventional fare furtively glancing over with a "what the hell are those people eating?" look on their faces.
A whole barrage of dishes arrives simultaneously, all looking deeply mysterious, and they can be enjoyed in any order you fancy; the flavours are beguiling, unusual, and utterly fascinating.
I've never until now much fancied the idea of fish stew (Pallu Basa), but that particular treat, cooked with coconut, was delicious, and in no way overpoweringly "fishy": even the rice dish which I'd imagined would be a mere standard accompaniment was delicately flavoured and entirely in keeping with the rest of the selection.
The price for the whole ensemble is £14.95, which in a restaurant of Stravaigin 2's calibre is a bargain, and I'll be repeating the experience. The cuisine is down to two talented Australian chefs, who have worked hard to replicate authentic Indonesian dishes, and they've produced something which, for Glasgow, is genuinely innovative and even a bit daring. I hope rijstaffel ("rice table", in Dutch - Indonesia being a former Dutch colony) catches on. Just a thought - if the Stravaigin crew wanted to be really "Dutch" about the whole thing a glass of oude jenever, Amsterdam style - on the rocks in a long glass over ice - would complete the picture. But actually a bottle of premium lager is equally acceptable, if you want an accompanying drink. I'd advise booking, 'though. Clearly devised as an early-week lure for customers at a quietish time of year the restaurant was really pretty busy by seven.
A few weeks ago The Evening Times informed us that The Halt Bar in Woodlands Road, mysteriously closed with almost no warning, was about to reopen. Well it hasn't happened yet. The same newspaper reminded us that a previous leaseholder (the owner is Punch Taverns) had fallen foul of the company's insistence that its lessees buy their beer only from the company ("the beer tie", as they call it in trade circles), and had therefore been obliged to move on. I've no idea why the most recent leaseholder has shut up shop, but the Scottish Licensed Trade Association blames, I believe, the smoking ban. This certainly wouldn't have helped, as there are no outdoor smoking areas except the street (and even if customers are prepared to put up with this, upstairs neighbours can understandably get a little tetchy about the noise), but I doubt it's the whole reason.
It is, however, deeply sad to see a once thriving, "classic" West End pub lying moribund and shut, a target for vandals, and I hope something is sorted very soon.
The ET made play of the venue's reputation as a place for young folk to enjoy music (ie, in the lounge), but even as a bar it shouldn't be lying shut. My favourite memories of The Halt are the snug at the back, where once upon a time you could ask for drinks by peering hopefully through a service hatch. It remains, despite the passing of time, a bar as illustrious in Woodlands as is Tennent's in Byres Road, and something is very, very wrong if it cannot be made to work.
Hopefully we'll have a happy story to pass on in the next few weeks - at the moment there's no sign of life at all.
Allan Mawn's tapas bar in Thornwood is beginning to look like an unqualified success on all fronts. He is opening late week for lunches (check for details) now that his venture has "run in", and has picked up rave reviews from Sunday Times Scotland and (a full page article) Metro. The Metro review is so identical to my own recent experience there I'm beginning to think the reviewer must have been at the next table to me that night - two items were off the menu (but so what - there are tons more), and, he observed rightly, people were waiting for a table on a Tuesday night (when many Glasgow restaurateurs will welcome you with unfeigned gratitude for turning up). My dining companion, a big hearty chap, promptly tore into dishes of pork and beef meatballs and patatas bravas, while I health-consciously fiddled with aromatic mushrooms - before abandoning all caution and wolfing down an orange chocolate dessert infused with Licor 43. Desserts are often the weak spot in many an otherwise fine restaurant, but they're a major asset at Pintxo; my strong advice to anyone yet to visit is to leave room for one, because it really can be the highlight of the meal. Last time I wrote about Pinxto I suggested booking might be advisable late week and weekends; I'd now suggest that might be a good idea any day after six-ish, because this place has definitely won regular custom from inception.
Hats off to the folks in Ashton Lane (including G1, Brel, The Chip, etc) for their joint endeavour in the current beer festival, certainly the lane's most ambitious project of this sort to date. There's everything a beer fan could hope for, including many beers you won't normally find anywhere in Glasgow, good food, the promise of a farmer's market, music, and late opening - and of course the highlight will be this weekend, when I expect things will get fairly busy.
Besides Belgian, Swedish and other offers, there are also at least two great cask ales to enjoy - Cacanny from the Kelburn Brewery in Baurheid (one of Scotland's finest - its 3.8% Goldihops is currently pouring in Cottier's); and Fyne Ale's Piper's Gold, another 3.8 session beer from the great wee Argyll brewery at Cairndow.
Australian lagers (no, not that one), Swedish cider, Polish beer and Haccer-pschorr from Deutschland, are just some of the other beers on offer.
There's plenty of food on offer too, even before you consider the delights of the farmer's market on Saturday and Sunday (neatly complementing the market also appearing on Saturday down the road at Mansefield Park beside the Lismore), street music, and live music in both Jinty's and The Loft.
I could say much more about this one but you're as well checking out the event's well-organised website at
Another unqualified local restaurant success this year has been the quite excellent Mrs Majhu's near the bottom of Byres Road, which opened in February on the site of the former Monster Mash. It won a bilious and even venomous review from one particular scribe whose tastes evidently differ sharply from the rest of the population's, but ecstatic raves from everybody else - and no wonder.
Now, just as quickly as it arrived, Mrs Majhu's is "gone", but only to be replaced by the third in the Wee Curry Shop stable (Buccleuch Street and Ashton Lane). I don't know the story here yet (although I aim to visit as soon as possible), but I am guessing WCS liked both the site and the entirely empathetic style of the cuisine with its own, and made an offer. Mrs M's was "going like a fair" every day and night of the week, latterly, and I can't imagine WCS 3 will be very different. The West End now towers figuratively over any other area of Scotland for the stunning quality of its Indian restaurants (and I include the rest of Glasgow), which is a superb achievement in an age of such red hot competition from so many other rightly-admired international cuisines. There are at least half a dozen truly excellent Indian restaurants in or within a few minutes of Byres Road, and I still can't name my favourite.
More on WCS 3 once I've had a chance to enjoy it.
Why, I wonder, has Partick (and Thornwood) attracted so many brilliant cafes? I mean there's The Tea Garden, the eternally jolly Cafe JJ's, Vienna, The Rio Cafe, Cherrybean ... all different, all terrific in their own way. Today I had a late lunch at Rio, and found its steak pie and mash a very welcome antidote to the cold outside; my wife had a "perfect" carbonara with a proper amount of garlic - and all at very average prices. I've paid about the same in places which are basically glorified chip shops, and will never do so again. It's worth a visit just for the zany retro decor.
This place did get a more or less enthusiastic review from a Herald magazine chap, but it's very much the quiet success story - it doesn't need to woo outsiders to be a hit. Nice, too, to see its Pat's West End Website festival award certificate in pride of place over the bar - from a personal point of view I can vouch that we really did make the right choice. If a flat should come up for sale in Fordyce Street I'd certainly be interested - just five minutes walk from both The Lismore and The Three Judges, too (and, in the other direction, a mere stroll to Pinxto's, even before you consider the delights of Papa Gill's, and several other excellent diners).
Things surely can't get much better.
The campaign to save the old Arnold Clark garage in Vinicombe Street, touted as perfect for a mixed retail and licensed restaurant development, has reportedly ended in victory for the people who value it so much. More on what's likely to follow in due course.
On November 3 the first Glasgow venture of the Scottish-run snack food chain Baguette Express launches in Shawlands. Not long after, I'm told, a Byres Road outlet will open - on the site of a former surf board shop just along from Woolies.
The promotional material promises healthy food at reasonable prices, with an offer which allows you a wide variety of fillings, quick service, and favourites like toasties, baked potatoes, etc, as well as the signature baguettes. In the spirit of investigative journalism I shall report back as soon as I have sampled the first baguette. With jalapeno garnish.
Finally, if you're the sort of high roller who enjoys visiting places like The Hilton near Charing Cross you'll find its Camerons restaurant currently closed. This is because Dunn's, the refurb people responsible for the new-look Pond Hotel, Bobar, and much more besides, have been called in to give it a new look - which will be unveiled around the second week in November.
"The only Glasgow restaurant with a 4 Forks Michelin award", Camerons, which offers "Scottish cuisine with global flavours", was originally modelled on an old Scottish hunting lodge.
Michael Dunn, managing director of Dunn's, said
"Our brief is to transform Camerons' very traditional decor into something that more closely reflects the freshness and boldness of its menu with a modern, intercontinental design that gives the venue more of a brasserie feel. This brief will be achieved through a combination of various complementary furnishings designed to appeal to Camerons' international patrons."
A few weeks ago in this column I half-jokingly suggested that it wasn't at all difficult to decide which is the greatest jazz opus of all time ( I was writing about the difficulties involved in judging bars and restaurants), and argued that it was, and remains, Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis. If you don't know the piece it is a powerfully evocative and moving "high jazz" derivative of Rodrigo's most famous conzierto, which you'd recognise instantly if you heard a few bars. For me it somehow sums up what post-Franco Spain is all about. The Davis version includes unmistakable references to the occupation of Spain by Napoleon, and the subsequent resistance struggle - and this in turn is symbolic of the Franco oppression and, after too much suffering, the country's final liberation and reunification with the civilised world.
What has any of this to do with the price of Manchego? Well, just the other week, it was playing full belt in one of the most interesting new restaurant openings the West End has seen in recent years.
Pinxto, in Dumbarton Road in Thornwood - more or less across the road from Cherrybean cafe - isn't actually a Spanish restaurant at all, but a Basque one, and if you think the distinction is a bit hair-splitting you'll concede there's a very significant point of difference when you peruse the menu.
But as it happens there are some new actual "Spanish" openings too - mainstream Castilian, Andalusian, etc - which confirm the general trend. In case you hadn't noticed almost everybody is doing "tapas" these days, from Indian restaurants (ie, serving Indian food in a mix-and-match casual dining format similar to that of Spanish tapas) to the "tapas" selection of sushi available from the estimable Home Wok Sino-Japanese carry-out in Byres Road. Meanwhile well-established local act El Andaluz, Cresswell Lane, continues to be wildly popular, and there are several thriving Spanish restaurants in town (for example La Tasca and El Sabor).
Two of the latest arrivals on the west-of-city centre scene (and more about Pinxto in a moment) are in fact Spanish in inspiration: there's Satchmo's in Bank Street, which curiously but not inappropriately combines the imagery and music of the legendary Louis Armstrong with Spanish tapas (astute readers may have noticed there's a bit of a theme developing here); and then, way out west in Bearsden, there's the exciting new venture from Harlequin, best known for its Indian restaurants.
It's called "Las Ramblas" , after the Catalonian version of the Barras (this is doing it a disservice) in Barcelona. Eerily, during the only time in my life I have ever been there, a chap was playing that Rodrigo opus on a guitar. I had just been given a guided tour of the city's equivalent of Tennent's Wellpark Brewery, the Damm Brewery, and was musing on the fact that while beer lorries heading for Spain from Catalunya are marked "cerveza" the ones distributing locally are badged "cervesa" - which is perhaps a neat illustration of a proud people's determination to hang on to their language. And their (relatively speaking) independence.
I've never mentioned any Bearsden restaurant until now, but this is as good a time as any - it's not as if it's very far away, after all - and 'though I haven't checked it out yet Harlequin appear to have pulled out all the stops to make it as engaging an Iberian experience as possible.
The Bearsden tribute venture, which appears to be a labour of love job by Harlequin owner Sanjay Mahju, comfortably accommodates up to 100 diners, and features a "live" kitchen with Spanish chefs preparing "fresh, authentic Catalan cuisine" to order.
Sanjay has apparently lavished some £1.4m on buying and transforming the former China Experience into his take on an authentic tapas bar and restaurant.
"My first visit to Las Ramblas was an inspirational experience," he says, "and I have since returned many times to pick up various items of crockery and furnishings from the area to lend the restaurant an authentic flavour."
"The opening of Las Ramblas introduces a new dining option to Bearsden residents which I'm sure will prove extremely popular - the flexibility of tapas means that it is both a great way to indulge in a delicious snack over a drink or two, or to enjoy a full meal sharing a selection of dishes among friends."
The Las Ramblas menu includes chorizo frito al vino (spicy Spanish sausage sauteed in red wine); chuletitas de codero (lamb chops marinated in garlic); queso de cabra al horno (grilled goats cheese smothered in sweet chilli marmalade); gambas pil pil (king prawns sauteed in olive oil, fresh chillies and garlic) as well as specials and seafood or vegetable paellas. It sounds well worth investigating.
Coincidentally at around the same time Las Ramblas was set to open restaurateur Allan Mawn was preparing to open his new venture Pinxto. It's on the site of a former cafe a couple of minutes past the Crow Road junction on Dumbarton Road (number 562) heading away from town - and I recommend an early visit.
Many West Enders have fond memories of the restaurant he launched at the bottom of Byres Road about 15 years ago. Called Barcelona it was the only "Spanish" restaurant in Glasgow at the time (in fact Catalan) and featured everything from fine Hispanic wines to brandies, and cigars. The food was splendid. Then Allan sold up and moved on to other ventures, and in recent years the same site has won a fine reputation as No.16, which is also a handy name if you can't quite remember the address.
Allan, as it happens, is a fanatical Hispanophile, and having mastered Catalan cuisine in all its delightful variety he has - among many other adventures, for example running busy student unions on both sides of the border - become an expert in Basque cuisine as well. He tells me frankly that he brought Hispanic cuisine to Glasgow "seven years too early" - but now he is back in fine form with the proverbial "something completely different".
Despite being royally entertained at the opening night I still haven't had the full story from him, because as a chef-proprietor Allan was managing the difficult job of alternately a) Disappearing into the kitchen to do his chef bit and b) Entertaining everyone and enjoining them to sample his cuisine. Which, from what I tried, was no hardship at all. Guests included Robin Morton, who many will know as the man behind Brel; distinguished trade figure Eddie Tobin, Ken Smith from the Herald Diary with some charming lady colleagues, and not a few people who remember the former Barcelona venue with affection. The consensus appeared to be "he's done it again".