WITH the lights down super-low and almost everyone sitting with their backs to one wall, facing the bar over shiny dark wooden tables and half-drunk drinks, I think, as I walk in, that they've turned this into a pastiche of an auld man's pub.

Of course I stopped calling them auld man's pubs the minute I realised that simply by entering one I made it an auld man's pub.

Anyway, as I get the barman's attention and ask him if they really serve food, because it doesn't look like they do except for that blackboard they have in every pub and sandwich bar in the city, I realise that there ain't nobody old in here except this chicken. 

Deep down I'm kind of hoping there's a bit round the corner where the room is warmer and the designer has inserted something more powerful than a 30-watt bulb into the light fittings, where it feels a bit less like David Lynch meets Benny Lynch. But it ain't to be. 

Then my old mate Lozza turns up and I randomly order the first six things on the menu because I can't actually read the menu in this gloom. We talk about the time she went to London to ask Piers Morgan to send her to Brussels for two years to cover that European parliament thing, mate. And he did, mate.

Then a fish arrives. Not just any fish. A whole sea bream. Scored and deep fried and crisped. We're peering at this when my fork is drawn into a dark and green salad dish. Suddenly my tastebuds are drenched in sourness, fishiness and sweetness. Amid the crunch of fresh beansprouts, Thai flavours are washing deliciously through me. 

Now I'm eating a dark lamb rib with the meat crisp from frying, soft from being soaked in buttermilk, dusted with nutty, spicy dukkah, the Egyptian spice blend. 

Over here there's a bright fried egg yolk - cooked at 60 degrees, apparently - which turns out to be surrounded not by its own white, but by celeriac puree. It's a genuine ooh-yah surprise in this half light. 

There's puffed up potato balls, called -with a little cheffy wit - potato scones, and nicely spiced and sauteed mushrooms alongside them. On another plate crisp lettuce bowls hold pork 'n' peanuts with hoi sin sauce. Bouncing alongside is the thing that underlines much of the meal: fresh coriander. 

At this point, from our table looking through the bar on to neon-lit Mitchell Lane, with people gazing through the plate-glass windows, I'm thinking: forget Benny Lynch. This is more Blade Runner with its mashed-up decor and Pacific Rim food. 

OK, the honey chicken with pear, almond and whisky isn't all that, its flavours being too muted, its meat too dry to compete with the rest of the firecrackers going off round the table. 

A pretty dish of seasonal beets - poached, sliced and arranged in different colours and textures with pistachio, something called pumpkin carpaccio and creme fraiche - feels like it's either in the wrong movie or that the chef is reminding us that he can turn it on with local produce, too. Because, of course, this is a dish that you will easily find in restaurants with the word Michelin and star on their CV. 

As for that chef? We never see him. Why would we? Well, there's a box with a hatch at the end of the bar. There was someone in it as I walked by earlier, but when I come to pay the shutters are down, the lights all out. Either the barmaid or the barman, I can't remember which, mentions he's Australian and a bulb goes on above my head. Of course he is. And someone has given him a free hand in that little box kitchen. That was probably a very smart thing to do. Because he is what lights up this otherwise pretty ordinary place.


10 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow (0141 572 1448)

Menu: Surprisingly bold and interesting mix of Thai dishes, Michelin-style starter standards and a sprinkling of mains. 4/5

Atmosphere: Low-light pub up a lane in the city centre that either accidentally or by design seems to have reinvented the old man's pub. You may think atmospheric. 2/5

Service: Pleasant with a pub feel to the whole thing which isn't really all that surprising considering it is a pub. 3/5

Price: Small plates at £5 to £7 look a bit salty at first, mains £12 to £14 but given the quality it's good value. 4/5

Food: Sometimes startlingly fresh and packed with taste and the chef has got some great technical skills. For what it is and where it is is, very good. 8/10

TOTAL 21/30