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Ron Mackenna: Berits & Brown Eurocentral, Holytown

Two stars

Two stars

As baking's the new cooking and cooking is the new black it seems only right to spend the afternoon at a class in Glasgow's Grassroots deli with Paola and Cristina, the Two Mamas.

I'm checking out the hottest development in the hot, hot bake world: what the Italians call pasta madre - or baking with natural yeasts. It doesn't get more cutting edge or delicious than this.

By the time I leave I'm lightly stuffed with freshly dusted sweet and sourdough brioche and gorgeous torta della rose, both pulled hot from the ovens by Paola in the kitchen at the back of deli.

I've arranged to meet Guerino for a gentle motorway run to the industrial complex that is Eurocentral. It's an unlikely location for another deli, this time with a sizeable restaurant attached, but I've heard nothing but good things about Berits & Brown.

It's got a strange and movie-cool setting: artificial waterfalls gurgle amid lush tree-lined landscaping, while the mirrored glass of row after row of beautiful and eerily unoccupied blue-grey offices lines a spookily quiet access road. I expect Tom Cruise to drop in any moment now to explain who paid for all this semi-industrial uber chic. He doesn't, so we drive up and down rubber-necking it all before sashaying over a little bridge and into Berits & Brown's attractively glass-fronted and lightly pine-coloured deli.

All of a sudden the background music that's been playing in my head all day is yanked rudely to a screeching halt. Why? "Well, there ain't nobody here but us chickens," as BB King once said. OK, there's one other couple, but on a weekend evening? Let's just say I feel a bit silly for phoning ahead and booking the table that the pleasant and chirpy waitress is leading us to while explaining that they're in the process of changing the menu.

Ah, to bring you up to speed I saw fancy tasting menus on the internet and interesting dinner menus, but when I phoned up and spoke to the man? He said they were just serving the lunch menu tonight. Hey-ho, says I, and now we're here. Umm. It's not a big or interesting choice but if they do it well it could be good. I'll kill the suspense right away, though. They don't do it well.

The tempura king prawns are huge, possibly frozen - though that's not a crime these days - and served with a chilli jam. They are disappointingly tasteless and dull.

Marginally better luck with a pedestrian Stornoway black pudding starter, but those steak frites at a promising £13.99? A disaster of a chewy, gristly rib-eye which before a bit has been sliced from it is clearly not a good cut. Any chef should have seen the gristle running through it and refused to serve.

At least the chips don't seem to be double-cooked, or even triple-cooked which is so fashionable these days. They appear simply to have been recooked. From earlier? Who knows? What matters is that they're brick hard and awful.

A Thai chicken burger is a brief respite in a sea of mediocrity, being packed with spice and texture, but it's the only thing on the plate that's not dull.

We order desserts from the lacklustre menu choices in the hope that at least one or two of the dishes will be good enough to match this setting.

The sticky toffee pudding is not bad, but there's no Berits & Brown stamp to it. It's exactly the same standard as is available from a thousand places up and down this land.

That hot chocolate fudge cake? Dry and awful. Shame. Clearly Berits & Brown thrives when the offices around it are open and slumps into some sort of lazy food torpor in the evenings. But that's not really an excuse for what has been a dreadfully disappointing and not in any way good-value meal. Pity.

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Food and drink

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