Le Petit Cochon


TABLE for one, I say, lumbering in from the street outside and the waitress promptly points to a tiny Lonely Boy Special prominently perched right beside the front door.

Now, eating alone is genuinely one of the greatest joys of life but only if immediate steps are taken to counter the automatic reaction of all waiting staff to direct you to some awful perch the size of a stamp, in a draught or a tight corner or beside an open toilet.

All this particular one is missing is a spotlight and a basket of rotten fruit for the other diners – the ones with pals – to throw at you when they get bored staring.

So I say, umm, while looking pointedly at the vast acres of empty four-seaters, up there on the mezzanine, or round there in the gloomy bit with the candles and we agree it’s in probably everybody’s interest if I am tucked out the way.

And so it comes to pass that I shuffle into a comfy mid-week corner, spread myself out and peer at the menu trying to work out why I thought this was a French restaurant when it’s a) clearly only very slightly French and b) it’s possibly not even a restaurant.

Well, not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. Though the fairy lights illuminating the stairs over there and the hard shiny laminate tabletops in this huge, airy, very-difficult-to-give-any-personality-to-as-numerous-previous-attempts-indicate, it has wine bar and all-day-diner aspirations.

Fair enough, I think, recalling a conversation I had the other day when a chum suggested the only people who consistently make money in the restaurant trade are the landlords. It’s certainly the cruellest of games.

I consider and dismiss a sort of 70s Europop of dinner choices; chicken schnitzel; lamb kleftico; spaetzle. A potpourri of starters too: chicken liver pate (groan); spiced lamb meatballs; wild mushroom toast.

I came for French so I have hunted down and am having steak frites (£18) and confit duck (£15) and to be fair to the breezy waitress she doesn’t blink when I order them both.

Joanna Blythman reviews Stravaigin, Glasgow

A French onion soup (£5) with melting gruyere and croutons (on the menu anyway) beckons to start alongside another dish of roasted beets, spiced feta, clementine and toasted seeds (£5.50). The beetroot is a pleasant enough (and en vogue) assembly job of ingredients, the obligatory pomegranate seeds scattered around a pretty plateful but it cries out for some sort of dressing to bring all these relative strangers together. Reasonable soup, too, with a decent stock underpinning it and a single slice of toasted bread floating atop, bit thin though and not nearly memorable enough.

Smother anything in garlic butter and Le Porky here will enjoy it and the two rather thick chunks of what are billed as entrecote are deliciously swimming in it with a small separate bowl of thin dry chips (sitting on the same plate) and a small, rather tired-looking salad of rocket at its side. It’s reasonably good but not really my idea of cheap, fast, light and fresh.

There are more pomegranate seeds scattered around an extremely hot and to my eyes overcooked (possibly deep fried) confit duck leg, something soupy called pomegranate molasses around it and a pile of gloopy aubergine puree. I really can’t get too excited about this, I’m afraid. It’s poor.

While David Bowie blasts Heroes out the sound system I have a conversation with an another waitress about an orange, chocolate and gingersnap baked cheesecake. “Made here?” I ask, suggesting a bit artlessly that I can’t remember the last time I was in a restaurant where the staff conceded one wasn’t.

“Definitely,” she laughs, guaranteeing not only that’s it’s home-made but indicating probably today. It’s not a bad cheesecake though I get nothing of the anticipated pizazz from the advertised extra flavours. Bit like Le Petit Cochon itself. By no means bad but nul points for sparkle.

Le Petit Cochon

9 Radnor Street


0141 357 1666

Menu: Sort of culinary Europop selection of dishes including kleftico, schnitzel, spaetzle and the odd French one. 3/5

Service: Don't blame the staff for sending me to a tiny table and otherwise they are cheery, enthusiastic and friendly. 5/5

Price: A tad schizophrenic in that the soup is reasonable value at a fiver but £18 for steak frites and £15 for a confit duck leg? 3/5

Atmosphere: It’s a big old Victorian place under a tenement on the foothills of Glasgow Uni and hard to bring to life midweek. 3/5

Food: Charge restaurant prices and you need to meet restaurant standards, not bad but by no means memorable. 6/10


Joanna Blythman reviews Stravaigin, Glasgow