WHEN I think back to where this meal went so wrong I can pinpoint it down to the minute. There we were, Gordon and myself, at a tiny two-seater window table, Gordon muttering that on his side there really wasn’t much space for the more robustly upholstered gentleman. Me thinking, I would be saying exactly the same if the table was turned. But it isn’t – so I’m scanning the specials menu, counting the number of dishes, remembering this is a tapas restaurant and in a bid to get this show on the road am just about to order them all.

Every damn one of them. Seven or so.

When just at that very point, the waiter who is bouncing up to us suddenly says whoa...“Those specials are all vegan.”

Good, God man, I think you’re right, says I – or that would have been my reply 20 years ago. It being the early 21st century I simply say: "Glasgow’s gone completely vegan bonkers, hasn’t it?"

And with that we forgot the specials, turned to the a la carte menu and thereby condemned ourselves to the litany of mediocrity that followed. For a fraction of a second I did think this: turning down specials, ordering from the a la carte, hang on – am I mad? But then I saw seitan with mushrooms on those specials, and a vegetable omelette too, so maybe not. And even though Glasgow seems to be the vegan capital of the western world these days (a good thing) most people must surely be ordering a la carte in here tonight in this expensive-feeling, twinkly-lit, neon-glowing Finnieston strip diner.

So the kitchen will be geared up for it? Answers on that Herald postcard, please. Geared up the kitchen certainly are, the waiting staff too, in a way that’s not really – how can I put it – relaxing.

If I fast forward here I can tell you we will have polished off eight or so dishes, two desserts and be on our way out the door in way less than an hour. Wallet a good £70 or so lighter excluding drinks.

And during that time food will have come firing out that kitchen tapas-style – aka, whenever it suits them, in clumps, in singles, piling up, almost flung onto the table by staff who had usually turned and were well off their mark by the time they’d landed.

Yet it all started quite well. There was that brightly-coloured and stickily sweet tartare of salmon with date syrup (£7.90) that we both tasted, savoured and quite liked; then very good light, crispy and creamy croquettes of gruyere and spinach (£5.50); and in the same batch 32-hour roasted suckling pig with apple and cinnamon (£8.90). This was hardly the show stopper it could have been, but was otherwise okay-ish.

Then the wheels start to come off, fast and furious. That ceviche de lubina (£7.90), or marinated sea bass with fresh lime, has had so much lime poured onto it that it is cheek-bleachingly strong.

Poplo y boniato, asada, senor? Oh, go on then. Octopus, wild broccoli and sweet potato (£7.90) to you, mate. This strange meeting of apparently unrelated ingredients sinks without trace on disks of octopus that are so rubbery they’re like chewing gum.

Better luck with the huevos rotos con jamon iberico (£5.90) a chef’s witty take on ham and egg and chips; a good slow-cooked egg, some tired-looking fried ham finished off with sad and soggy chips.

Frankly? A bit more care in preparation would have helped.

By now you will have worked out we’re deep in a game of tapas roulette, click, click, bang, bang, bang. But what else could it be?

I now count at least 30 dishes on offer across tonight’s various menus excluding, of course, the obligatory paella.

What kitchen could handle that, freshly and carefully, on a Tuesday night? When everyone else is eating from the specials?

Which, yes, we possibly should have done.


1116 Argyle Street


0141 334 0761

Menu: Tapas, the Spanish variety, and an ambitious modern, classical and market specials sub-menus. Possibly too many dishes for this end of the market. 3/5

Atmosphere: Twinkly, neon-lit cavern slap bang in the middle of Glasgow’s uber-hot Finnieston Strip. Semi-buzzy. 4/5

Price: London seems cheaper than parts of Glasgow these days and with many tapas here weighing in at around £8, this isn’t a bargain. 3/5

Service: Fast and casual is what we supposedly all crave, but this was too fast, too casual and felt slightly uninterested, though individually pleasant staff. 3/5

Food: Tapas roulette in full flow, some hits, mainly misses but what else could it be with a sprawling menu that large? 5/5