PICTURE this. It’s late November. It’s dark. It’s very cold. A plump man in a car, this plump man actually, can clearly see the restaurant on the other side of the road. There’s, woo-hoo, parking over there too. Course there is: it’s a vitality desert round here.

But hang on, because of the way the insaniac one-way system flows, no matter what he does he can’t actually, ever, get to the other side of that road.

Round and round and round we go, across rivers, under bridges, through many lights – hey there’s the restaurant again, until eventually. D’uh.

The penny drops. Give up. A space though is actually found. Some considerable distance away. In completely the wrong direction. So far not so good then.

What follows is a grudge and trudge and a slump into a kinda doll’s house of a place that is instantly remarkable not for being shoehorned into multiple levels, but because it’s so damn, dim-lit gloomy.

Jeezo, I quip inwardly to my favourite audience. Is this what it was like during the war? Will Vera Lynn be over there downing a Margarine Negroni? Or is just that ambience is now a confirmed casualty of the shocking cost of electricity? To a booth anyway. Up the stairs.

HeraldScotland:

Awaiting: the Bison, the Gibbo and old celery ankles. Deep in chat about …well they’ve been out for an hour perhaps so it’s usually Nicola, or Boris or that time Psycho from the Evening Times Business Desk squared up to Robbie at the news desk. To be fair: that was good.

Yes. It’s our annual-ish dinner just to meet and compare notes on, well, not just the departed. And now, before we get this cheery banter fully underway, there’s a menu to consider.

Which I do. With a rising tide of frustration. Uh? Soup of the day, bruschetta, salt and chilli chicken, haggis bon-bons, fish ‘n’ chips, a burger, two linguine, chicken aaargh, supreme, a cuddly toy.

OK, not the cuddly toy. But crikey this is straight out of Freezer Food Central Casting, I splutter, adding – seriously, whose idea was it come here?

Three sets of accusatory eyes bore back

All made fresh here, he adds at one point. Heard that one before buddy, I mutter. And then the food arrives.

HeraldScotland:

Dull as it gets on paper; formulaic – but oooh. Chicken pieces fried in a light, thin batter that simply must have been made in here. Peppers, red onion (groan), yes a sweet chilli dip, and lots of flavour.

Little falafel bitey things all lined in a row like soldiers, still with the glisten of the pan, but hot, crisp and almost melty inside.

The fish ‘n’ chips? Is there anywhere is restaurant land that doesn’t serve a fish ‘n’ chips these days?

But this, again, and you can tell just by looking has been battered in here, one of those light (again) coatings, bubbly, crispy with clean, white, fresh fish. I, in a moment of madness, ordered the jerk chicken and sitting looking at the plate next to me, I am consumed with ordering envy. Can I, I say to Guffy, have a bit, to try?

A slice across the tail section is removed: this is good. Very fresh. Floury chips as well. True. The Gibbo’s chicken supreme is professionally prepared and artfully presented and pretty much as exciting as a supreme gets.

My jerk curry? Somebody made this from scratch in that kitchen down there. It just has that vibe. Crisp vegetables, undercurrent of spicing, moist chicken and steaming rice.

Honestly? Suddenly a new-found respect for this place waves across us.

The Velvet Sparrow then? What is it? I dunno really. A pretty good restaurant masquerading as a pretty dull and formulaic one? It works for me.

 

Velvet Sparrow

3 Clarkston Road

Cathcart

Glasgow

Tel: 0141 637 9236

Menu: Frankly it looks incredibly dull and formulaic with it’s salt and chilli chicken, spring rolls, fish n’chips and falafels. But it’s actually not. 3/5

Price: Starters come in at £6 ish to £7, main courses from £13 to £15, seemed a bit salty for suburbia but seems all fresh made…4/5

Atmosphere: It’s been a few places in it’s time this slightly awkwardly laid out upstairs, downstairs joint and it felt very low wattage lighting when we were in. But comfy. 3/5

Service: Cheery Chappy, zipping up and down and knowing his stuff, he was right when he said: fresh made. 5/5

Food: the surprise of the evening: it looked like the usual freezer van suspects, but tasted like simple food made on site and with care. No complaints. 7/10

Total: 22/30

READ MORE 'Only 31 minutes to order and eat six dishes', Ron Mackenna's review