Sometimes you just get lucky.
Just as we walk in a couple at an outside table wander out and, hey … Before you know it we're sitting in the sun ordering wine and saying; so what if the table wobbles like a drunken sailor and the view is of four large bottle banks? We're in the west end, in Hyndland no less. In all its plush, posh, rosy-tenemented splendour. Four bottle banks, though? Anyway, the man right next to us may have his pink-trousered legs stretched on to a spare seat and the soles of his matching pink-socked and shoeless feet gawking at us, but who cares?
As I said we're eating al fresco, and it's a lovely Sunday evening in Glasgow. The waiting staff are smiley and pleasant and there's a group of people habl-ar-ing away in Spanish behind us.
And they serve duck shepherd's pie. Served in a white enamel dish with a thin blue line round the edge just like the dishes my gran used to have a cupboard full of. It's the sort of food that grans used to cook too - only, not with duck, surely. Maybe brisket. Or rabbit. But then my gran wasn't raised in the west end so who knows what they ate here. Anyway, the mash topping is creamy and buttery and crisped at the edges, and underneath there are big pieces of what was clearly once confit'd duck in all its rich, deeply-flavoured hallelujah glory.
You probably know this already, but this restaurant, The Hyndland Fox, was once a thriving deli and apparently the site of the original Peckham's. Back in the day when you'd struggle to buy a stamp in the west end and there was a deli on every street corner, Peckham's was kind of king. But with the delis largely going the way of the dodo recently, well, it's adapt or die. Now, where once there were dried meats and ripe cheeses and very pricey stuff all sott'olio'd and sprinkled with aroma of truffle oil, there are striped awnings, lightly-coloured wooden tables, bare brick and classy globe lights.
You're right: much of the same in style, then. Except with tables and more light. And space and less food choice. There's a nice atmosphere too this evening as the golden sun stretches through the long low windows and we tuck into a huge fat-lipped bowl of artichoke and roast pepper pappardelle that's all summery flavours and creme fraiche. Magically, despite alarming appearances to the contrary, the pasta manages to avoid sticking to itself.
So what if every so often we're startled by crashing sounds as shopping bags of empties are deposited by couples who suddenly look up, cringe and realise the secret Sunday walk of shame to the bottle bank will never be the same now that the deli has turned into a bloody restaurant full of gawpers? Clearly, the west end is still Partyville.
The daily special fish is crab, chilli and coriander linguine for £14. Can you get a daily seafood special on a Sunday? Whatever. We don't fancy it, having instead a hake and chorizo stew that's all big hunks of seared white fish, smaller hunks of chorizo and chick peas amid a sauce of tinned-tasting tomatoes. A bit studenty perhaps - it could have done with more seasoning too - but not bad. What is bad is the bread that's served with it. It's pale and wan and frankly woefully tough, like one of those part pre-baked things. Also plain bad are the roasted roots that came in the cute little pan with the duck shepherd's pie but were hard, bland completely tasteless and oily.
Those relatively minor grumbles aside? Reasonable if not exactly adventurous or even interestingly sourced food. Good atmosphere. Not too heavy pricing. And let's not forget that sprinkling of magic dust: we're sitting in open air under that rarest of things - a lovely Scottish sun.
The Hyndland Fox
43 Clarence Drive, Glasgow (thehyndlandfox.co.uk, 0141 341 6633)
The menu changes through the day and tries to please all; the usual grazing boards but reasonable choice of mains. 3/5
Striped awnings, bare brick walls and globe lighting: it looks and feels welcoming and comfortable. The deli is dead - long live the bistro. 5/5
Sitting outside on a sunny evening we had no problems with the service, which was swift enough and friendly. 4/5
This isn't just the west end, it's Hyndland - it's not cheap but it's not over the top either and our most expensive main was £13. 4/5
Nothing out of the ordinary, but nice enough duck shepherd's pie and decent pasta. Competent cooking. 6/10