All the eGullet boards about Glasgow recommend the Ubiquitous Chip as THE place to eat in Glasgow. This is why I booked myself in for dinner there on the very night I arrived in Glasgow for Eastercon. There may have been a main entrance, but what I found was the Wee Pub - and it really was mighty small. A phone call later, and I was ushered through to the main indoor space, a table of my own with people watching aplenty through the window to the courtyard beyond. The crowds were dressed in a wide range of styles, from t-shirts and tennis shoes through to elegant evening gowns. Decor was pleasant and accessible: white linens, towering flower arrangements, muted paint shades.
I opted for the dining room menu, a prix fixe selection of appetizers, mains, and desserts which aim higher - and cost more - than the alternative brasserie menu. The meal began with a good, intense garlic broth appetizer; this would have been more auspicious had I not burned my tongue on first sip. A pretty ironwork basket arrived, with a few slices of hearty bread and a pot of butter.
My first course was an elegantly-arranged platter of slices of tea-smoked Gressingham duck, accompanied by black pudding-stuffed figs and a garnish of red pepper, and served with whiskey sauce. The sweetness of black pudding complemented the figs. The whiskey sauce balanced robustness and a light touch. The duck, however, was the star of the dish, the quality of the meat evident in the taste. The tea-smoking added an intriguing extra element.
Because the options for mains were many and tempting, I instead went for mystery and ordered the "trilogy of mutton". It was an education in meat. The leg of mutton, stuffed with mussels, was tougher than the other cuts. The medium-rare loin was meltingly tender. The shoulder, baked in pastry, was somewhere in between. They surrounded a pillar of mash. A side-order of salad was too vinegary, but at least it was dressed, which often doesn't happen in British restaurants.
For dessert, I sampled the Chef's Famous Caledonian Ice Cream with fruit compote, accompanied by a glass of M. de Beaunes de Venise, M. Charpentier. The ice cream was charmingly topped by a delicate, crunchy fork-shaped tuile which tasted refreshingly like ice cream cone. The mild chewiness of the ice cream was appealing. The incorporated oatmeal was very finely ground; it was formed into a loaf, rolled in steel-cut oatmeal, and thinly sliced, with two slices comprising a dessert portion. The wine smelled of lavendar and honeysuckle, the taste very floral with a steely center, but the dessert brought out the wine's tart notes of grapefruit suffused with roses.
As I relaxed in the comfortable space, stomach full and tables now filled around me with snipped of conversation, I sipped dandelion tea poured from an Japanese-style steel teapot. The tea was a successful experiment: it smelled grassy, but tasted smooth and pleasant. It worked quite nicely with the accompanying mignardises - crisp little shortbreads and a mini-scone topped with a slice of ripe banana, butterscotch syrup, and cream - a mini-banoffee pielet!
Throughout the numerous waitstaff were attentive and friendly. Their sheer numbers - at least six of them served or talked to me - did result in the occasional minor miscommunication however. There was a sommelier and a non-alcoholic drinks sommelier. Seriously. But thanks to the American tourists at the next table and their prolonged conversation with the alcholic-drinks sommelier, I learned a great deal about the whiskeys of Scotland - especially the more obscure ones.
The Ubiquitous Chip would be a very easy restaurant to return to: innovative food with a serious emphasis on the quality of the ingredients, in a relaxed but classy atmosphere and accomodating service.