Montieths Bar and Bistro

Clarkston

THERE’S a very weird moment at Monteiths when half way through our meal we are suddenly told that the kitchen is closing and there will be no desserts.

I look at my watch. It’s 9.10pm. Baffled we try and remember if even in the bad old Basil Fawlty days of British restaurant hours this has ever happened to any of us. Before we can come up with a definitive answer the waitress is back again and saying actually, no, or reverse ferret as they used to say in newspapers, the kitchen will do desserts if we want them.

Uh? What that was all about we may never know. But as Montieths has recently opened, the staff are so box fresh that they’re up and down at the table with boundless puppy enthusiasm. Even in the bar area downstairs the punters watching the big screen tellies have the awkward look of guys who are not yet quite sure yet whether to sit or stand.

Clarkston, then, deep in Glasgow’s south side. A once dry district that to me anyway always has the glow of a warm, comfortable community. Yet one that’s apparently been in search of a really good pub and restaurant for so long that every time one is attempted it makes the local papers.

Talking of papers this is one of our former Evening Times' reporters nights out. Gibbo and Guffy drink, I’ll drive.

We’ll talk about that Herald fly-on-the-wall documentary and our delight at seeing amid hugely depleted ranks the unsung legend that is 1990s Evening Times splash sub supremo Chic Freeland still strutting his stuff not having aged a single moment.

Meanwhile there are haggis spring rolls with curry sauce, chicken liver parfait with pineapple chutney; cornbread muffins and broccoli strutting brashly across the big shiny menu and we’re tasting Cullen Skink.

Not bad, says the pescatarian from the BBC, there’s fajita spiced calamari for the public relations tycoon and your chubby reporter here is onto a spicy feta and beets taco.

First impressions? Of the taco? Not great. Dry, cold, colourless and floppy it looks depressingly like it came straight from a packet, the very large hunks of feta inside tossed in sriracha hot sauce, paired with beetroot and at least sprinkled with coriander.

It squirts and skitters apart and simply doesn’t eat well and is therefore only very loosely based on quite a good idea. Better though the calamari, perhaps a riskily low number of them on a dangerously large plate for somewhere which may well depend very heavily for its future on whether word of mouth says its value for money. But.. good pub food, full flavoured and a sparky avocado and coriander salsa on the side, well, actually underneath.

I should have said that when I came in, late as usual, I circled the ground floor hopelessly looking for my chums whilst becoming increasingly baffled at the pubby feel and lack of clear and visible food action until a barmaid directed me upstairs to this almost airlocked restauranty area, heaving with diners, cheek to jowl tables, staff squeezing to and fro.

There’s a warm comfortable thrum tonight. And they’re trying. Mains: a confit duck Bolognese – oiled fettucine, shreds of duck amid perhaps minced beef, cheese sprinkled atop. A hake fillet properly cooked, crushed peas – both plates unsurprisingly nowadays arrive looking attractive.

If the starters are perhaps riskily priced at a universal £6 then the mains at £12 are on firmer ground. My haddock and chips involves reasonably good chips and a large puffily battered fillet that I finish all of, and enjoy.

A lemongrass and coconut panna-cotta from the recently reinstated dessert menu (£6 all round, too) sends us pretty happily on our way. Now, I don’t want to come over like Kevin McCloud, from Grand Designs, here and moon about the value of slightly unpretentious restaurants and pubs to local communities but Montieths here seems to be making a pretty good fist of it.

Montieths Bar and Bistro

3 Helena Place

Clarkston

Glasgow

0141 533 2047

Menu: Slightly racy take on traditional middle market food including haggis rolls with curry sauce, cornbread muffins with broccoli, duck Bolognese. 3/5

Service: Box fresh staff in a newly opened bistro. They were friendly and trying hard – weird thing with the desserts aside. 5/5

Atmosphere: Half pub, half bistro not an easy trick to pull off but it was warm and brand-new. Bustling upstairs. 4/5

Price: Mains come in at £12, starters and desserts £6 each. Add it up and it's reasonable. 3/5

Food: Pretty competent stuff. They’re putting themselves out there with some exotic combos though the simplest dish, the haddock and chips, was the best on the night being fresh and tasty. 6/10

21/30