So L.A.


THERE will be a point in this meal when the waiting staff will swoop – and swiftly and efficiently join the two-seater table right beside us to our table.

“See,” Garry will say, nodding at the departing troops, “the service is good.”

Hmm, I’ll reply, having just mentioned that there’s already been a little bit too much like-another-drink-sir upselling going on for my liking, they had to do that. We’ve just ordered over £80 worth of food. And there isn’t going to be enough room to get it all on this little one.

To put you fully in the picture here: I already don't know about this place. What is it? A bar, a restaurant, a 1980s Clydeside nightclub tribute?

There's so much confusing glass on display out front that not only did we almost get lost coming in we’ll walk into a stairwell cupboard later trying to get out. Seriously.

And I’ve had to Shazam the music when it started annoying me with its in-your-face-neighing chorus – Hayden bloody James: Something About You. Jeezo. At 7.30pm on a Tuesday night, up a lane, in Glasgow City Centre, rain grinding down outside. Listen to it. And ask yourself: is this music to eat by?

Okay, okay the answer on that postcard will possibly depend on what age you are. Or whether you have just left Cruise or Costco and whether you’re a miserable old git or down with the So-Cal kids.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: this is a little bit of Los Angeles in Glasgow. Black, black decor, neon strip-lighting out back, rows of tables lined up like soldiers, only candles to soften the all-round hardness. A mash-up menu, a pastiche and while so far nobody has spoken with a Radio Clyde accent I’m kinda waiting for that car to crash.

It doesn’t. It's very hard to win any restaurant critic plaudits these days serving food that arrives from all over the world but if you don’t ask who supplies all this stuff, or how, you'll be happy enough.

The spicy feta salad is simple and pretty, chunks of cheese, juicy mandarin, mint, roasted beet and refreshing. I like it.

A smashed lamb burger, with avocado salsa, goats cheese and mint mayo not only arrives with a reasonably fresh bun, it’s not over-stacked, the meat has flavour and we eat it all.

There’s a lot of dark crockery action taking place, virtually no plate is served without at least one slightly shocking contrast flavour in it or David Chang-style leftish field ingredient.

Take the tempura queenie scallops (that’s the small ones) in a steamed bao bun with battered scallops, lobster mayo and a face slap of apple and ginger. It almost works although the queenies slither slightly unconvincingly about in their unnaturally wet home.

They actually burn the fried sprouts into little charred lumps with the tuna tanaki. Whether this is deliberate or not I couldn’t say, but they’re reasonably sweet while the properly sweet chunk of very pink tuna on the vermicelli noodles is moist and enjoyable.

What the watermelon rind is supposed to bring to the Hayden James party, apart from a hipness I don’t get. The two short ribs in star anise and molasses are as black and sticky and soft as anyone would probably hope, the pear, radish, and orange salad with them as light as its supposed to be.

It’s a mouthful or two for £8, and a reasonably successful one. Less success with the garlic Copenhagen, buratta, pink peppercorn and oregano simply because the dough itself has slightly collapsed and the whole thing is a bit too greasy and heavy for my liking.

What do we make of all this then? I don’t like the ambience, and there are too many people just sitting and drinking to make it feel like a proper restaurant for me, but you may.

The food is different, generally good fun, pretty well turned out and, if you don’t worry about sourcing, not bad.

So L.A.

43 Mitchell Street


0141 473 7333

Menu: A mix-up, mash-up of Los Angeles-themed flavours which are occasionally fresh, often different and, sourcing aside, – interesting. 4/5

Service: Quiet night and the upselling of drinks a bit tedious but otherwise pleasant and efficient. 4/5

Atmosphere: Not my cuppa with neon highlights, harsh blacks and a nightclub vibe in an all things to all people attempt that wasn’t comfortable. 3/5

Price: Bold pricing, appetisers pretty much all £8 and over, non-veg mains easily hit £20 and up. 3/5

Food: Different (for Glasgow anyway), tuna tanakis, battered queenie scallops in a bao bun. Fresh citrus, popping flavours everywhere. Kinda fun. 7/10