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Ron Mackenna: The Vintage At Drygate, Glasgow

Is it just me, or in the space of about two years have we gone from too much pretentious information on menus to not nearly enough basic info?

The stylistic difference between the fine-dining starters and pub-grub mains won't suit all tastes. Photograph: Nick Ponty
The stylistic difference between the fine-dining starters and pub-grub mains won't suit all tastes. Photograph: Nick Ponty

Take this air-dried collar of pork. Is it made here? I can't see any clues on the menu. The smoked mutton? Likewise. Not that it particularly matters. As with most things attached to the word "grazing" and served on planks, they promise far more than they deliver. Yes, there's a strong, not altogether pleasant smoky, very sheepy taste from the mutton. The pork too is meaty and clammy.

But altogether, and there are other damply tasteless artisan meats on this wooden board, it all feels disappointingly grim, grey and unappetising. Even the addition of a couple of chutneys and some bread doesn't lift it much.

Drygate has a stylish, vibrant, art-school approach to decor, with a tall, elegant greeter at the front door and a boom-shakalaka rhythm to the thumping bass from the speakers. There's a full-size mural of a beardy man at the top of the stairs, exposed pipework, industrial meshes and vast stainless-steel sterile spaces through the back containing brewing devices. I kinda like the look, though it reminds me of one of those indoor adventure playgrounds where you pay a few quid so the kids can go mental without causing any damage.

I also kinda like the waiting staff, who are young, enthusiastic and in some cases very beardy, and who want to speak in detail and in evangelical tones of the craft brewed and supplied beers available in here.

I say "want to" because Rino and I unconsciously, simultaneously and perhaps a little startlingly stopped a waitress as she was taxiing down the runway of a prepared craft beer speech moments ago by shouting the words: "We're not drinking."

There's far less info on the food front and if it seems already a bit of a bolt-on to the main business in here of getting down and dirty with hops, it's not because of the prices. They're certainly not shy about charging for starters or mains.

Starters effectively starting at £6, mains often soaring past £16? For sitting at tables in what is effectively a beer hall? As for that food, given we're in a kind of brewhouse setting, those starters when they arrive are confusingly all fine dining in appearance. Not in a good way either, given that something called almond panna cotta is a collapsed and creamy heap of goo amid smoked almonds, lemon curd and fennel salad.

Luckily, we taste the dish called pork cola cubes first. Not only is the pork which has been soaked in organic cola - we asked the waiter what it was - delicious and tender, but the carrot and cumin canneloni which looked so strange on the plate is fabulously full flavoured. It's actually conversation-stoppingly delicious. Full marks to the chef.

But that panna cotta? It's a car crash of sweet and super-sweet flavours with fennel tossed in. We were told there's no assiette of beef available tonight and so we're left scouring the menu for main course choices.

After those fine dining-style starters, the main courses should surely be in the same mould? Er, no. Fish and chips, burger, seafood chowder and pork belly line up as though they have been created in a completely different restaurant. Faced with that surprisingly uninteresting choice, we plump for the tasting platter of which you have already heard and a burger of which it is said Drygate focuses considerable effort. Good? Well … not bad, not good. Just another identikit crinkly brioche-rolled burger with a heap of highly flavoured ingredients including, in this case, blue cheese which overwhelms all burger tastes. Shame.

Drygate, then? It's a mish-mash of cooking styles and tastes and while that may be fine if you're just here for the beer, it's not so good if you're not.

The Vintage At Drygate

85 Drygate, Glasgow (drygate.com, 0141 212 8810)

Menu

Fine dining starters, dull pub grub mains, grazing boards. Doesn't really know what it wants to be and ends up being none of the above. 2/5

Atmosphere

Vast craft brewery with food, stylish loft-style interior split into sections, a buzzy feel when busy. 4/5

Service

Young staff are very pleasant, friendly and knowledgeable, though they're probably more focused on beers than food. 5/5

Price

At the top end of the top-end market with starters around £6 and mains around the heady £16 to £17 mark. Strange pricing for the setting. 2/5

Food

The pork cola cubes starters were exceptional; the rest was average at best. It's really about the beer, the food seems an afterthought. 5/10

TOTAL 18/30

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