Our traditional fish and chip shops are disappearing from Scotland's streets, as we develop more adventurous tastes. And that's a worry for The Herald's long-serving restaurant critic Ron Mackenna. Here, he argues they are our own street food - and we must use them or lose them

Hi there, the lady behind the counter says as soon as I walk in the door. Hiya, the wee lassie who serves the table also says, as I squeeze – and I’m not kidding about the squeeze bit – into one of the booths beside the window.

“Hi there,” says Guido – a man I have never met before but that’s what everyone else is calling him – when I later roll up to the counter to pay my bill.

And there’s a final “hi” from behind that counter as a lady (was it Anne-Marie?) took the dough for my suppers and as I plopped smash from my pocket into the tips box.

It’s a friendly old place is Guido’s Coronation Restaurant. I’ve already worked that out as I read the blurb on the menu – (opened in 1939 and not by this Guido) – and listen to the chitter-chatter of the Gallowgate on a bright spring Wednesday evening.

“Bread and butter with your fish tea?” says the wee lassie? Uh, yeah, why not, I say looking up and hoping it’s not going to be bloody sourdough.

HeraldScotland: Guido's Coronation Restaurant exteriorGuido's Coronation Restaurant exterior (Image: colin mearns)

“A pot of tea with that too?” That’s a double-yes, I nod – please not mint – sparkling up our exchange by suddenly shock-ordering a half and a half (no not that kind) of sausage and haggis to go alongside my full-fat, large fish tea.

She doesn’t blink an eyelid at this; nor does she comment that – judging by the gap between my stomach and the edge of the table in this booth – two, count ‘em, suppers in moi are not going to do much for the structural integrity of this historic place. “Hey Guido, any tartare sauce?” shouts a man getting up from a table of five guys near the fryers.

“Single king rib please,” orders the lady waiting at the counter, then suddenly adds: “Know what? Make it two o’ they single king ribs.” High-five, stranger, thinks double-supper man here.

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“How much are the onions?” says a young guy who, I’ve already overheard during a bit of chip-shop shouty chat, is on his way to visit his old Da up at the hospital. Blood pressure problems. “Er, 38p, I think,” comes the reply.

Actually it’s 60p if you sit down, I’m thinking while scanning the menu, and also kicking myself for forgetting to order one.

Chip shop life then.

I’d forgotten what great places these are to come in and sit down and soak up the street life.

HeraldScotland: Guido's Coronation RestaurantGuido's Coronation Restaurant (Image: Colin Mearns)

OK there’s a scent of fryer in the air. I inhale it deep and often – yeah it’s definitely the good stuff they’re using, and enough bright 1950s cheery colours in the stitched upholstery in the booths and on the walls to make me, anyway, think of Andy Warhol and – weirdly – Bob Monkhouse.

I count 20 customers in here right now; some standing waiting, others at the tables including a couple going completely mad with ketchup in the booth under the alcove. I’ve moved seats twice but it makes no difference: these booths are made for very skinny people. Honest.

The bread arrives. Hurrah, it’s Mother’s Pride or something like that. Thinly smeared with a yellow spread, butter. The tea arrives. Big silver pot. Tetley’s? All for me.

The fish supper now. Two big but fine fillets, batter so crisp I could eat them like biscuits, splattered too with extra crunchy bits, and then the moist, white fish inside.

Chips? Excellent.

Heston Blumenthal would probably faint, but these are fried, I am sure, just the once. They’re neither crisp, like they all are in those new upmarket bijou chippers, nor soggy. Doused with vinegar, salt bouncing off them: just right.

“I didn’t eat the whole haggis,” I’ll find myself saying to Guido later across the fryer when he digs me up about just how much I ordered.

Healthy fish and a wee cheeky sausage.

No harm in that. A proper old-school chip-shop tonight then.

Why? Because they are rapidly disappearing. And fast.

We’ve forgotten: this is our own street food.

And it’s still kinda brilliant.

Guido’s Coronation Restaurant

55 Gallowgate



Open: Seven days 0930-8pm

Menu: Come on: it’s a chip shop. A proper, historic, reassuringly old skool one. King Ribs, Pizza Crunch is about as exotic as it gets. Thankfully. 4/5

Service: Super friendly and not in a formulaic fashion; warm. Comfortable feel about the whole place. 5/5

Price: It was £9.45 for the large fish tea, two large fillets, chips, pot of tea and a slice of non-sourdough bread n’ butter. £6.45 for half n’half and chips. 5/5

Atmosphere: Bright colours, upholstered booths, non-stop chit-chat from behind the fryer and the customers, great feel. 5/5

Food: Is it the best chip shop in the world? No idea. But there Ain’t many proper chip shops which can still turn out fresh crisp golden fish and decent chips. Get it while you can . 8/10

Total: 27/30