WE ONLY realise we’ve stumbled into a genuine, honest-to-goodness, very first night of being open to the paying public when the staff ask for the umpteenth time if we’re doing anything nice today/later/for the weekend.

This entertaining selection of top hairdresser questions is only one giveaway that everyone’s a little bit nervous. It will turn out, too, that after a slow start to taking the order our food will be delayed again because the lamb’s been burnt and has to be re-cooked. Whoops, though bonus points for honesty.

Bring the rest, I suggest, when it's obvious that they plan to hold everything back til it's cooked again (the others require no cooking tonight).

They do and while we wait we eat hand-dived scallop ceviche with pink grapefruit and fennel; Ardunan Farm (in Strathblane) pork pie with mustard and more pickles.

The pork pie is a delicious and spectacular, if rather phallic-looking slice, encased in a crisp pastry, topped with jelly, packed with very good meat but served on a rather cliched wooden board. My attempts later to discover if the whole pie (I’d buy one) is actually made at Ardunan Farm will founder amidst the frustrations of an awesomely clunky website called the Great British Food Hub.

The scallops themselves are sweet little slices that look great, taste as they should, (being served in the best possible way) but the dish could probably lose the chunks of overpowering pink grapefruit that smack awkwardly of being lifted straight from the hotel’s breakfast service.

Yes, this is a hotel dining room trying to make that breakthrough from guest diners – there are exotic Americans eating at the next table, summery Japanese sitting further along – to bringing in the general public. Never an easy trick in Scotland.


Joanna Blythman: It’s not often that I heartily concur with a restaurant’s self-description, but this one is bang-on

It’s had a make-over, a relaunch even, and it’s still a quite beautiful room in a quite beautiful building on the edge of Glasgow’s quite beautiful Blythswood Square. But if you’ve been here before then you, like me, may find your jaw dropping at the shock-horror realisation that they’ve taken out all that fabulous Harris Tweed that memorably lined the booths at the windows.

Let's try first the St Bride’s Chicken raised presumably at St Bride’s farm in nearby Strathaven, with herb gnocchi and wild garlic. Incidentally, see what they are doing here? Local suppliers. More bonus points.

The chicken is a simple supreme with its little trimmed wing bone pointing, wild garlic and a gooey herb gnocchi alongside. It’s moist, fresh, tender and juicy. We like.

I quite like, too, the line-caught cod with burnt leek and chicken wing, though if you’re going to burn the leek to get the sweetness out then you really need to char it properly and use a whole leek. And I’ve had far better cod.

A couple of chunky monkey desserts then, a lemon curd tart that isn’t the most delicate but both Luca and I like and a salted caramel pudding which is simply just everything tasty and super-sweet banged into a metal skillet, baked and topped off with a dollop of ice cream. Also quite liked it. Though finessed the puddings aren’t.

The lamb? Ah, yes. Hmm, it’s a first night (though there has apparently been a week of soft launches) so let’s give them the break of the ball. The lamb needs a rethink in my view, chunky salt-baked beetroot, hunky goats cheese, it doesn’t actually need the lamb at all which being rolled and a little stringy is not the easiest to handle – or eat. At all.

And just a thought, this, but like the other starter-sized plates it looked a little dry, unremarkable, dull even when first appearing. First appearances and all that.

Prices? Hey, even the green pea soup is £7. The rest are upwards but it’s worth paying for the location and the room.

The food itself? Bit too early to say.

Bo and Birdy at The Blythswood

11 Blythswood Square


0141 240 1633

Menu: Modern Scottish and ticks lots of the right boxes with very good local suppliers providing the chicken, the pork, the cheeses. 4/5

Service: Full marks because they were pleasant and coped well with various problems on what turned out to be the first night for the paying public. 5/5

Atmosphere: Vast but beautifully proportioned dining room-cum-cocktail bar on one of Glasgow’s best squares. 5/5

Price: That chicken was £19, the cod £22 while the pork pie was £8, scallops £9 and lamb £8. Desserts £7 and £8. 3/5

Food: Proper pork pie, well-sourced and succulent chicken. Too early to say if it will avoid becoming just another hotel dining room. 6/10