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Ron Mackenna: Epicures of Hyndland, Glasgow

On a golden June evening can there be a prettier restaurant in Glasgow than Epicures?

Dining at Epicures is a mixed bag: the food is decent and the setting enviable, but the service falls below acceptable standards. Photograph: Nick Ponty
Dining at Epicures is a mixed bag: the food is decent and the setting enviable, but the service falls below acceptable standards. Photograph: Nick Ponty

It sits on an elegant corner with light streaming through its acres of glass on to diners eating amid airy loft-style ceilings and tasteful bric-a-brac, with a crimson walled mezzanine looking down charmingly over it all. And there's plenty of time tonight to consider this glorious vista if you are unfortunate enough to be standing at the front door being completely ignored by the staff.

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As the minutes tick away to, say, about 10, with nobody showing the slightest interest in what is now a mini-queue of customers, someone finally cracks and asks the man behind the bar for help. The reply is curt and clear: wait until a waitress comes to you. Charming.

We would go elsewhere, but the new Hyndland Fox round the corner is definitely, completely full, while we can infuriatingly see many empty tables in here. In fact, when we're finally led upstairs it turns out there have been six empty tables in this section alone. Four of them will remain unoccupied throughout our meal - including the one with the reserved sign on it. Things get even worse.

Instead of a list of today's specials there's only a fish of the day dish - a list of what is not available for dessert is recited by way of welcome. No plum tart, no shortbread with the creme brulee and the vanilla and kumquat cheesecake is now something called mojito. That's problems with three out of the four desserts on the pre-theatre menu. A pre-theatre menu which is so set in stone they post it on the internet. Crikey.

It would be easy to blame the young waiting staff for this first-impression disaster, but who knows how much they're being paid and how they're being managed - if at all. Certainly, nobody in charge seems to have bothered to check whether the salt and pepper cellars were filled tonight. Ours weren't - nor were they on the table next to us or even across the way, but at least we got two on our table. You've got to laugh.

You're expecting now that the food is going to be a total disaster. It's not. Apart from the steak hache - that's burger to you and me - arriving a ridiculously long time after the other two mains the food generally is professionally turned out. OK, an awful lot of the dishes are served on planks of wood, but that is, after all, the current fashion.

There's a meaty, reasonably flavoured ham terrine with a very nice crisp and crunchy fresh piccalilli. The chicken schnitzel is golden crumbed, tender, served with dark and clean tasting greens, little cubes of parmentier potatoes and a sauce of sherry cream that only wants for some sherry to make it a good dish.

The burger arrives perfectly cooked with a strip of pink in the middle and is tender, well presented on a brioche bun yet, when we bite into it, it's obvious the meat is completely unseasoned. Shame.

Crepes with crowdie, walnut and savoy cabbage are a rare spark of Scottish originality and start off tasting great with lots of different textures and the sharp bite of that cheese. This is a big portion and the rich combo of crepe and creamy nutmeg and mustard sauce finally defeats us all.

Bad dishes? That starter of six tough frozen prawns skewered and served with a chilli and lime dressing that amazingly has no lime in it? Very Farmfoods.

Desserts? When is someone going to open a decent restaurant serving just desserts in Glasgow, we wonder as we leave. Obviously we're not going to have ours in here. Not that anybody would appear to care. Now we have paid the bill the staff don't even look up at us as we walk out.

This may be the prettiest restaurant in Glasgow, but is that enough? I really don't think so.

Epicures Of Hydnland, 159 Hyndland Road, Glasgow (epicuresofhyndland.co.uk, 0141 334 3599)

MENU

Chops, cannellonis. Reasonably stylish and modern bistro food, though there's still a prawn cocktail and a chicken liver pâté on there. 3/5

ATMOSPHERE

Lovely split level restaurant with tasteful bric-a-brac. Great feel and clear high windows opening on to Hyndland Road. 5/5

SERVICE

Dreadful. Customers ignored as they come in, staff disinterested. Points only for delivering food. 2/5

PRICE

Pre-theatre good value for Hyndland. Main menu starters generally too pricey at up to £8.50. Mains are better value. 3/5

FOOD

Nothing innovative or particularly different. Well-presented bistro food that can't compensate for Epicures' other problems. 6/10

TOTAL 19/30

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