WE WON’T know this when we arrive on Saturday morning to find the queue for a table is 30 minutes or on Saturday evening when we return to find it’s even longer. We won’t know it on Sunday evening when things are much quieter and there are loads of empty tables but we will still have to wait before finally trying Denny’s – home of the American diner dream.

We still won’t know it until our table is strewn with the deep fried debris of our meal and we are actually paying. Then I will overhear a waitress telling people at the next table just to ignore the £100 car park fines. Uh? What £100 car park fines I will say, pointing out I have now been here three times and nobody has mentioned this once.

I will then go outside to stare in amazement at tiny lettering on small signs placed at such a height that no one will read them and wonder what kind of people think this is a good way to start a business. I will then go inside and find the counter top tablet that you apparently must enter your car registration on has been switched off – as it apparently has been all evening – and mutter aloud whether this is fair? Even in rip-off Britain? Answers on a postcard, please. Meanwhile a quick internet browse shows that Denny’s here is in the midst of such an aggressive overseas expansion that they may no longer care what people think of them.

Joanna Blythman reviews Bibimbap in Glasgow

Certainly, if there’s anyone in charge at all in here tonight, it’s very hard to spot. Like when we point out that the chicken in the Crazy Spicey Skillet (£11.99) hasn’t been sliced as in the menu photo. That’s a slight problem because it is so incredibly overcooked and tough we can’t actually cut it ourselves. Chainsaw anyone?

This is grudgingly dealt with by replacing it with chopped not sliced chicken pieces – don’t even ask why. The rest of it is just spiced fried peppers anyway.

The chicken wings in the £9.99 bargain basket are equally overcooked and dry and tough, while the fried chicken pieces themselves are instantly forgettable.

A tenner for that, I think. Isn’t this supposed to be value food? There are awful dry fries with something that looks and tastes like watery custard on top – this is cheese sauce apparently – and my Grand Slamwich, ordered simply because I like the pizzaz of the name turns out to be fried bread stuffed with scrambled egg, cheeses, ham, crumbled sausage and spread with maple syrup. Weirdly, sweetly, wetly (the egg), it's not very good.

It’s not all bad though. We quite like the peanut butter milkshake (although a fiver is too high). And they can cook a pancake. Luca’s fresh fruit pancakes breakfast for a tenner is so huge it’s unfinishable and the eggs on the side, not the most appetising-looking but we are not asked how we want them, are left alone.

San Vicenzo, Bothwell. Restaurant review by Joanna Blythman

Listen, I love Americana and judging by the constant crush of customers here we all do. Denny’s even has a great American diner feel with bright lighting, neon signs and the odd cosy booth here and there. But the toilets are filthy on this visit, the place completely lacks any sense there’s anyone in charge and as for those car park fines? The waitress turns on the avoid-a-£100 fine machine at my insistence but the battery is flat and it won’t fire up at all. As I take a photograph of it she says customers have been complaining of being ticketed but I’ve simply to ignore any letters.

She’s probably too young to realise how aggressive and threatening car park companies can be, I think, as I make a note to write to Trading Standards on Monday.

Frankly, you could not make this place up. Denny’s in the States occupies a space somewhere just above McDonald’s. Here, McDonald’s is miles above this shoddy operation in professionalism. This isn’t the American diner dream to me – it’s some grubby, expensive and grasping parody.


5 Braille Crescent,

Renfrew, Glasgow

0141 885 0234

Menu: Disappointing parody of the American diner dream. All pancake breakfasts, fried chicken pieces, milk shakes and salads. 3/5

Service: Some waitresses were cheery but not once did anyone mention that car registrations have to be logged to avoid a fine. Machine off anyway. 1/5

Atmosphere: Busy, well-lit and reasonably atmospheric chain restaurant take on the American diner but toilets filthy on our visit. 2/5

Price: This is a budget chain in the US but by the time it gets to the UK somehow it seems transformed into expensive and mediocre. 1/5

Food: If this is what diners are like in the States they can keep them. Extremely sloppy preparation of stuff that tastes like it has been imported frozen. Pancakes OK but otherwise pretty awful. 1/5