Two Fat Ladies In The City


A CURIOUS thing will happen at the end of this meal. After the dessert plates are cleared, the drinks finished, the bill hovering about to be presented. Instead of getting up and leaving we’ll order more drinks. Not actually because anyone particularly wants another drink, simply because it's cosy and relaxing in Two Fat Ladies with its fishy motifs, chilled out waitresses and snoozy atmosphere.

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And, yes, baby it’s cold outside, but while the desserts aren’t the evening’s highlight they are much better than expected. One of these deconstructed cheesecake things turns out to consist of crumbly freshly-made shortbread and a ball of tangy salty sweet flavours that work so well Frankie will be momentarily diverted from his and Gibbo's riveting chat about jazz and turn to me with The Raised Eyebrows Of Appreciation writ large across his grizzled old sub-editors' coupon.

I’m pleasantly surprised, too, because given the quality of the starters I half-feared something out of a cardboard box. But then should I have been? We were deep into the good old newspaper days earlier – Psycho and Robbie, Ridney and Scoop Vincent, Big Zed and that icy ten-year feud between the picture desk and newsdesk – when we were disturbed by the arrival of the whole sole.

Perfect white fish, a drizzle of seasoning and butter, sliding off the bone so easily that to suggest we were filleting it ourselves would be a travesty. Like the sole the whole stuffed seabream comes sans head but its skin remains – slashed and seared, caramelised and bubbly, more firm white fish meat underneath.

A triumph? Pretty much and where else, even these days, can you easily have whole fish simply presented – albeit at around £20 a pop. That price – and fish is never cheap in Scotland – does include a bijou selection of roasted vegetables for the table that may be straight from the 1970s but that’s also almost like an extra course. And while some of those potatoes are a tad overcooked it’s not like we even need them.

Two Fat Ladies has been around so long I can remember reading a review of it that sparked a war on The Herald letters page back when I was a mere downtable newspaper reporter and Gibbo here was just beginning to craft the deadly drop intros that he would later build his public relations empire upon.

Once upon a time our default position would have been to have these comforting nights out in the pub but why would we now? On a Sunday night in Glasgow most pubs are half-dead while this restaurant has been simmering away in a lively fashion since we came in.

The two waitresses, deft enough to know when to linger for a moment’s chat, bustling about between the busy tables, occasionally looking up from their serving stations as the good-old-days talk drifts towards some of those more lurid newspaper stories.

Yes, we did struggle to pick something to order from the Table D’Hote or pre-theatre menu to give it its less formal name. And, yes, we all did momentarily groan after having been lured into pricier waters by those enticing fish winking attractively from the a la carte menu and having then looked up the page and realised that the a la carte starters are pretty much identical to the ones on the pre-theatre. And at £8 for smoked salmon with salad, £7 for goats cheese tart and another £8 for a venison pate, they’re also pricey.

My goats cheese tart turned out to be dense, imperfectly reheated and disappointingly ordinary. As for Goffy’s Cullen skink? A diplomatic answer to its quality is all we can get out of the man from the BBC. Here’s what’s happening tonight if you ask me. The easy-for-the-kitchen-to-pre-prepare pre-theatre starters and desserts have drifted onto the a la carte menu. Understandable perhaps, but not perfect from where we are sitting. But then sometimes a meal is more than simply what you eat.

Two Fat Ladies In The City

Blythswood Street


0141 847 0088

Menu: Fishy and quite interesting at a main course la carte level with whole sole and stuffed whole sea-bream – the pre-theatre not so much. 4/5

Service: Pleasant and efficient and experienced with just the right amount of chat to keep things moving. 5/5

Atmosphere: One of the nicest places to be for a warm and comfortable evening meal despite its rather ordinary dimensions. 5/5

Price: It’s fish, so it’s never going to be cheap. Three courses a la carte was easily £35 – about par for the course. Pre theatre cheaper. 3/5

Food: Lovely simple whole sole, very good stuffed sea bream. Not so impressed with the starters or desserts. Go for the good mains. 6/10