“ Modern Scottish cooking. 12 Ashton Lane Glasgow G12 8SJ. Telephone: 0141 334 5007. Fax: 0141 337 1302 „
So what do you do when the threat and gloom of 14 months worry over redundancy is over? You go out and spend the redundancy package! Arriving home some weeks ago to be confronted with an open bottle of fizz and a grin bigger than a baby that's just discovered chocolate my other half broke the news he'd been offered a job in Manchester! We were both ecstatic and true to his word that if he did get a job he'd take me to the 'poshest' restaurant in Glasgow he had booked a table at Ubiquitous Chip.
The reputation of 'posh' comes purely from me ambling over to see the menu one day and being blown away by the prices and the seeming quality of the menu not to mention my sneaky look in the interior which from the outside looks like a cross between a wine cellar and a garden centre (more on that later). It also recently won the Good Food Guide 2009 award for Restaurant of the Year (Scotland). So combined with the job excitement we got dolled up and headed out.
A windy and predictably raining Tuesday night in Glasgow we got a taxi to Ashton Lane which is in the West End. Ashton Lane is a delight in itself with cobbled paths and an assortment of bars and restaurants lit up by delicate fairy lights that combined with the bubbles from the fizz made me feel like I was having an out of body experience!
As we entered the restaurant we were greeted by three things:
1. How busy it was for a Tuesday (there is an upper floor and balcony but this was closed giving the feeling of a cosy and bustling restaurant)
2. The lighting, delicate, light, discreet and very well designed making the whole place seem magical and inviting
3. The plants, hanging, growing, entwined round stone walls and the small waterfall, this place really is enchanting, almost like a secret garden serving amazing food, my kind of secret garden. The restaurant has a glass roof in the middle, irrelevant at the time due to the darkness but certainly in the day I imagine it almost looks like a garden centre.
For a restaurant of this calibre you will not be surprised to know that the majority of the patrons were dressed for the occasion, nothing to elaborate but not t-shirt and jeans either. The tables had proper tablecloths and we were greeted immediately with smiles and hospitality by smartly dressed waiters in co-ordinated uniforms. We were escorted past the extensive wine cellar, at a quick glance I spotted a bottle from the 1970's and the wine list itself was more extensive than the menu. Also with this being Glasgow it would be a crime not to have an equally extensive whiskey list.
**Menu and Food**
Once seated our waiter was warm and not stuffy which was nice encouraging us to ask questions about the menu if we had any. The menu was presented and is set out with a page for appetisers, mains and desserts. Pricing is also simple £34.95 for two courses and £39.95 for desserts. A selection of bread, amuse de bouch, and pallet cleanser are free and all part of the experience. I think this is the easiest way to eat in an expensive restaurant because the initial price shock is over and you can settle in to maximising your money - lobster anyone?
I could be hours waffling on about the menu but I wont, all I will say is the food is Scottish, interesting, mouth watering, creative and inspiring. There a about 8 appetisers and 7 mains to chose from which I think is a good variety. I had to ask some questions because as you might expect the language is a little superfluous and what could be put simply as cod doesn't sound as good as 'meaty specimen from the deep' for example (don't worry it wasn't that bad!)
I opted for the beetroot and comrie cheese (like a cottage cheese) salad to start and a trilogy of lamb. My other half had the roast belly pork to start steak with bone marrow mash. Both were elegantly presented with decent but delicate portion sizing. They also timed the dishes perfectly so you did not feel like you were sat waiting for hours but were also allowed to take your time and enjoy the experience. We were completely exhausted (adrenaline! I think) by the end of the evening so for the first time in my life couldn't even attempt a pudding but the cheese board with a wide variety of Scottish and Artisan cheeses would have been my first choice.
The wine list was a heavy tome that took some deciphering, we decided to throw it open to the sommelier and gave him a price range and a preferred colour as well as what we planned to order. He surprised by opting for the lower end of our budget explaining that he actually felt it was better wine, he was right and the bottle cost us £23, not cheap but I suppose the wine cellar must pay for itself somehow.
Service was excellent and not at all stuffy, they seemed to be good at reading the mood of the guests, providing high end service to the business diners and a little more conversation with ourselves and the groups of friends who were dining. They were attentive and reassuring that it was ok to ask questions. They also offered to call a taxi at the end of the evening which was either a pleasant gesture or an indication we had celebrated a little too hard!
**A little bit for afters...**
I cannot recommend this experience enough, it would be the perfect location for a romantic dinner on a weekend away or indeed if you have some business visitors you wish to impress...maybe just maybe for that Christmas weekend away you had been planning... The old style glamour and the whole feeling of occasion that you should feel in a restaurant is encompassed here in one ample and unique dining experience.
The Ubiquitous Chip is probably one of Glasgow's best overall dining experiences. The restuarant is situated on Ashton Lane a pretty, little cobbled street alley of bars and restuarants just off Byres road and near the University of Glasgow. The lane is charming and often filled with people especially during the summer.
Inside the decor is a mixture of the modern and the traditional and there is a courtyard with an outisde theme. One possible fault is there is no view as the restauarant is in a lane.
The restaurant aims to provide excellent quality Scottish food and succeeds in doing so. The menu usually offers around 8-10 dishes that use traditional Scottish dishes (such as stovies, Scottish steak and salmon) but beautifully prepared in a modern style. The food lives up to all it aims for, being tasty of reasonable quantity and extremely well presented. The service was also friendly and good without being pushy or invading the table too often to ask how the meal is.
There is also a decent selection of wine and, of course, whisky.
Overall this is a restaurant that provides quality food and a Scottish atmosphere without spilling over into the kitsch, tartan overkill that is the fault of many.