IT’S sultry, humid, and slightly sticky this Saturday afternoon with the added personal atmospheric bonus that not so long ago I was helping my son carry a couch up three flights of tenement stairs. 

Right now I’m wallowing in still being alive with a long, cool coconut and pineapple drink poured from that big glass pitcher behind me while perching on a stool at a window bench and looking out over Victoria Road. 

Surely, exactly the right conditions for eating at Nola Soul – which incidentally is New Orleans soul food hits Glasgow. Even better: on the way in I bumped into Stanno and now Milan has come over to shoot the breeze with me like we’re a couple of lazy afternoon locals. 

I park my fork on the side of this tray of biscuits with sausage gravy and the two guys behind the counter watch idly as we chunter on. Later, when the fried okra with lemon pepper aioli arrives, as I’m scraping the last of the shrimp and grits, those same guys will be feverishly working away behind me, chattering too, totally forgetting I’m here. 

Actually, it’s so intimate in here it could be the equivalent of one of those chef tables that they double-bump you for at posh restaurants. 

Nola is astonishingly small. Tiny really, a little bar kitchen area, couple of tables – neither in use today because they’re not doing sit-downs as someone called in sick, or so I hear them telling a walk-in. I loomed up with mad mover dad gear on and an I-won’t-get-in-the-way-look on my coupon and they said I could take this bench, the tables being covered in all sorts of take-away stuff. 

The first food that arrived was Southern style kale (£3.50) in a tinfoil tub and the first thing that ran through my mind was – ooft, salty. 

But I ate on, because that’s what we do in the restaurant reviewing game, picking up chunks of chicken, crispy ham, onion, sweated down kale and realised the flavours are just very big; super savoury, actually delicious and the whole salt vibe fades into the Southern background. 

Simultaneously, I’m picking away at little okra bullets – breaded crisp, deep dark bursts of greenery, tempered with that tangy aioli. And all the while I’m working up the courage to try this shrimp and grits (yes, savoury porridge) on account of it not – umm – looking super attractive, or attractive at all, being to the untrained eye a little bit grey and a big bit gloopy. 

Fast forward five minutes and I’ll be having a conversation with The Man about what colour of grits are best – both taste the same apparently – whether those little diced bits are peppers (they are) and, of course, the Southern food holy trinity. 

That’s onion, bell pepper and celery, Bub – which, combined here with the shrimps, the herbs and the deep flavouring, means that I end up conceding grits are good. It’s polenta, of course, but I guess you already knew that. 

Now, I read somewhere, I think,  that the rolls in here are Japanese milk bread or something far-out and then I totally forget to double-check, so taken am I by their shine and the texture. 

The Herald: Nola Soul may be tiny and the ‘biscuits’ an acquired taste – but its fried chicken sandwich

This bun, let’s be all-American, is embracing buttermilk fried chicken. I heard them frying it off behind me, watched them plating it up and was still surprised when I bit into it – how juicy and moist the chicken thigh inside actually is – and yet there’s still a sensation from the coating and the truffle mayo. 

Frankly? They could probably just ditch the rest of the Southern soul food hoo-ha and concentrate on the fried chicken, so hand-made and carefully curated it is. And it’s still incredibly hard to get good fried chicken – despite it being the fashionable food du jour.  

But then there are these biscuits – American scones anyone? – with more gloop (sausage gravy). These I’m not so sure about. A little bit stodgy, perhaps. An acquired taste? But I won’t hold that against them. 
All-in? Well worth a visit. 


Nola Soul

72 Victoria Road,


Tel: 07542-648826

Opening: Closed Monday and Tuesday - check times on internet.


Menu: Southern soul food hits Glasgow: grits, biscuits, sausage gravies and possibly the best fried chicken sandwich in the city. Interesting. 4/5

Atmosphere: This place is devoid of decor, pretty much the size of a shoe and probably takes about eight people - yet you’re right in the action. 4/5

Service: All they had to do was lean over and give me my food, but pleasant chatty guys, can’t see them coping with a rush so don’t all go at once. 4/5

Price: Those buttermilk chicken burgers £6.50, shrimp and grits a fiver, the sausage gravy and biscuits £4.50. Very deep in bargain territory 5/5

Food: Loved the fried chicken sandwich, what the rest of the dishes lack in appearance they more than make up for in flavour. Something different 7/10

Total: 24/30