The new Lansdowne by Mother India in Glasgow is an anomaly, a stray commercial venture in this otherwise residential square of the same name. Graceful stone villas, a leafy communal garden, this square remains a haven of tranquility, despite its location just off the West End’s busiest artery. Signage down to the basement is discreet. Footfall? More like feet walking past. That’ll suit people who live in this desirable spot; for the restaurateur, that’s a problem. You’ll need word of mouth to pull in customers, but based on its other popular restaurants, Mother India has that in spades.

Descending the steps into the Lansdowne we fight that sinking feeling of walking into an empty restaurant where it’ll be embarrassing to turn round and walk out again. We’re in a dark, sprawling area with the air of an off-duty nightclub, rescued by an efficient Maitre D who asks us if we’d like to dine in the conservatory out back. We jump at the offer. In this clement weather the main restaurant would feel like being thrown in the slammer, although with its swanky, clubby air, it will come into its own in deepest winter when you want to shut out the outside world and burrow down with a stack of hearty food.

I’d heard this was to be an Indian-Middle Eastern hybrid, not a ridiculous idea, given the historic diffusion of Mughal Empire cooking techniques through the northern sub-continent. Yet it would be easy to miss the Levantine component in this menu, so much is familiar from mainstream Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi dining.

Saying that, we feel that we must try the “green chilli hummus with roasted chickpeas and pitta”. It isn’t promising, a pretty standard hummus in taste terms, and texturally a bit lumpy, with mild red chiliies and more piquant Mexican-style green chillies chopped on topped, and a scattering of dry, tryingly plain pulses. Pitta? I’d call this a chapatti.

A dish of “chickpeas, potatoes, and lentil dumpling with tamarind chutney” smells pungently minty. In essence it’s a spin on a classic bhel puri, its bulk from cheese straw-shaped biscuits that have the salty-fried appeal of Ritz crackers. They’re piled up like an unlit bonfire, on a hummus-like paste, laced with pale pink yogurt, that minty green sauce you get in Indian restaurants, pomegranate seeds, and sev (chickpea flour fried noodles). I’d rather have a straight bhel puri; this concoction is just a bit odd.

Solid, oily batter on the “gram flour-fried haddock” puts us off. The fish come with peas in a tomato sauce where chilli heat annihilates any other spice. Its “ginger tahini” is putty-coloured, and tastes like watered down sesame paste. If only we’d eaten the monkfish kebab- spice-we’ve made the mistake of dipping them in “orange labneh”, which is more like the Levantine soft cheese spiked with orange flower water, a thundering rogue elephant, adrift from its natural territory: desserts. With roadside lamb we’re back on safer, less experimental territory, a reasonable lamb curry topped with deep-fried potato straws.

Crispy okra are partially slipping out from their gritty batter, but easy enough to nibble. The caramelised onion and sweet potato wedges that flank shine through a sauce similar to that on the peas- hot, red, utterly lacking in subtlety- only sweeter. It’s as if there’s a universal red sauce on the stove that’s tweaked for various dishes. If there are any whole spices in this food, I must have blinked and missed them. “Spiced potato bread”, like the so-called pitta, cools rapidly into dry elasticity. We leave most of it.

Service, which started off well, slows right down. We wait patiently for our dessert even though the Lansdowne might as well put up a sign saying it can’t be bothered: the only thing made in-house is the gulab jamun. Plenty diners would love its syrupy, butterscotch squish. To me it’s disturbingly sweet. My teeth ache just looking at it.

So, this whole Middle East-Subcontinent project, does it work? Not here. It tastes more like an unconvincing, half-hearted, commercially-driven attempty to piggyback on the current success of Levantine cookery.

The Lansdowne by Mother India, 7a Lansdowne Square, Glasgow 0141 334 4653

Food: 5/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Value for money: 7/10