PICTURE this: we’re in a tavern. In Glasgow. In the west end. There’s a pretty big pizza high on a stand dominating this tiny table and a cheery waiter drifting by. Everything OK guys, he asks, picking some of the debris-strewn plates from sub-pizza level.

Well, says I, and I don’t know why I do this because normally I don’t. Well …this tagliatelle al limone, nodding towards a pretty small plate of creamy-looking pasta, fine Parmigiano gratings atop. Silence. Well …

Then – whoosh. It’s out. We-didn’t-like-it-because-there-is-far-too-much-lemon-and-it’s-kinda-inedible. Silence. Oh. And-the-pasta-is-undercooked-too. Bigger silence. Ooft. I can see Joe all mock surprised across the table. I don’t know why because he was the first person to recoil on tasting it. But he’s not as surprised as the waiter.

The Herald:

Who recovers. Lifts the plate. Apologises profusely and professionally. Backs off. Then shoots towards the kitchen. What’s going to happen next, I wonder out loud as we check the room to see if anyone else clocked this grossly uncool act by me. At the long table towards the window they’re still laughing, drinking, picking at their pizza. Zero interest there.

Even the couple to our left, underneath the pictures in this dark and moody pastiche of a New York dive bar, are too deeply embedded in their own chat to have noticed. Phew. Onto the pizza then? Fourteen full-fat inches.

Very thin and floppy. Perhaps Napoli style. San Marzano tomato sugo – of course – pepperoni, chunks of chilli, and the whole sliced finely into squares, if you can picture that.

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We recoiled too when we tasted it. This time in a good way. Woah. Is that honey, I said as a wave of spicy, sweetness galloped past the meaty tomato hit and enveloped us. Stop. Scan the menu. (Always, always keep the menu.) Yes it is. Hot honey initially confusing the palate, but ultimately a nice combo of flavours.

And at, ooh, £15 to feed two, many will argue it’s reasonably priced. Now. I’m still kind of expecting a replacement (small) plate of pasta to come out of the kitchen. Not that I fancy it again. But although the waiter buzzes between tables, occasionally heading through to the main bit of the tavern, the bit that doesn’t open onto Dumbarton Road, and although we look up when he comes near just to check what’s in his hands ...

It’s never for us. Phew again. Blondie plays on the sound system – of course. Heart of Glass – of course – and I get up to see if I can get a glimpse of the open air section that I’m told is also out back.

The Herald:

I’m really looking for the photo of the once-famous and once across-the-road Volcano Nightclub, which someone said was in here. Just to see if the sign actually says Volano like it did in real life – on account of nobody ever replacing the bulbs on the letter C. But there’s too much atmospheric stuff on the walls, and it’s not busy enough to linger without looking like a, well, ah, weirdo. Meatballs anyone? With Sunday sauce and parm(esan).

They’ve obviously got one of these little red, plastic, hinged, old-school parmesan graters in here like we had at home when I was a kid. They push the cheese out in the finest, lightest, fluffiest gratings.

Those meatballs? Did I say three? For a side-plate sized, er, plate: nine quid. That draws a comment. They’re perfectly decent meatballs, nonetheless. Same price too for the stand-out dish of the evening. Burrata. Small plate again: just-outta-da-oven hot mini potato bread all puffed up like a Marilyn Monroe skirt, a creamy, tangy, generous dollop of that great cheese, a fire-cracking river of chilli oil; crunchy, crispy fried shallots. Yes, nine quid. But still very good. Oh. There were anchovies, as a wee taster, £4.

With confit garlic oil in theory. In practice with ... too much vinegar. And the tagliatelle? Nobody ever mentions it again. Until we go to pay. I took it off the total, says the waiter. Well done. Overall? Saved by the bill.

West Side Tavern
162 Dumbarton Road,
Tel: 0141-286-6617
Opening: Seven days

Menu: it’s a pretty successful pastiche of a moody New York tavern serving big pizzas, pastas, burratta in potato bread, bavette steaks too. Interesting. 4/5

Service: Full marks for relaxed, friendly attitude and general swiftness and full marks maintained when the tagliatelle was removed unasked from the bill. 5/5

Atmosphere: It’s a dive vibe, lots of bare brick, wood panelling, dark colours and art on the walls. Kinda works for me. 4/5

Price: Prices are high all round these days, £9 for three meatballs, £10 for a half plate of pasta. And £15 for a large thin pizza. It’s not cheap. 3/5

Food: Liked the pizza, really liked the burrata with potato bread; tagliatelle was a car crash but they didn’t charge for it and someone needs to taste the anchovies. 6/10

Total: 22/30