Four times in the last week I have driven out here to the madness that is Popeye’s famous Louisiana Kitchen.

Four times I have been stopped in the street; been told the estimated waiting times (always an hour plus) and directed to a packed queue. Four times I have immediately turned my car and bolted. Not tonight dammit. Tonight: screw the wait. We’re going in. Woo-hoo. 

Though I ain’t standing outside like those poor suckers. Not even to get a seat in a glass box piping jazz and selling the sandwich that broke America. 

Because a) it’s absolutely pouring down. And b) I don’t like jazz and c) now I can see inside the restaurant – it’s plastic. 

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“Yeah, I would stay in the car,” says the drenched security lady leaning through my car window, as she directs me towards the drive-thru. Woo-hoo. 

Only an hour, hopefully, of slow-mo motorised snake-o-rama and I will be taking part in the cultural moment that has swept the internet, the world even and now like the tail end of one of those blistering hurricanes – hit Barrhead, Scotland. Fast forward, dunno, 50 minutes. I’ve made it. 

Order given to the voice-in-the-wall, bank card in sweaty hand, your fat food critic right now leaning out the car window talking up to chirpy young staff in a glass box while random orders scroll down an outside screen. 

“Is that yours”, says Team Popeye #1. Er nope, says I. “This one” asks #2? Nah I didn’t order Diet Cokes or three sauces. “We can take them out,” comes #3 . Great. But that’ still wouldn’t be my order. These are pleasant and currently rather perplexed people. 

“I, er, definitely put your order through,” says one, minutes later. Being of a cynical nature I take this to be an, er, admission. Behind us cars mill, motors menace, eyes stare and everybody waits – tickety-tock. Tension rising. 

The Herald:
“We’ll take your order again.” They do. Twice. It disappearing the first time. They direct me to the next window. Say 15 feet away. Just far enough for me to realise those food bags, d’uh, piling up definitely can’t be for me – cos they’ve just taken my order. Ugh. 

“How are you tonight,” Louisiana teamster #4  asks through another hatch. Good, but this is chaotic, isn’t it?. “Yeah”, she laughs. So. Here’s what happens, eventually. I give her my receipt. She gets a pen. We make a deal. I will park round the corner as ordered. 

They will find my food. She will personally tick off every single item before taking it out to me. That way I won’t have to queue another hour simply, inevitably, to point out they’ve given me someone else’s bloody food. And now, I’m parked. So close to the restaurant I’m almost in it. Bright, brash, that damn jazz. 

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“Guys we’re going to be another 10 to 15 minutes before we let anyone in,” a guy at the door shouts to the Barrhead rain gods. “Just so we can catch up”. Ooh, is this because of my order I wonder, from my warmth, looking up from an email chat with a giant Highlander foodie who has just asked me: What is Popeye’s. 

Uh? Where you been, man? They shut the damn motorway because of this place. 

Eventually, anyway, long after I realise I gave my receipt away and panic, there’s a knock at the window. 

“Phew, I thought I’d never see you again,” I say to #4. 

“We made it fresh,” she replies. Hurrah. I take it home. 

Mrs Mackenna who has actually already had her tea is not best pleased to be presented with a famous Spicy Chicken Sandwich. She’s tastes. And again. And again. Eats the whole thing. 

“That was actually very good,” comes the verdict. I have a plain one. It’s just four ingredients: toasted brioche, pickles, mayo and crispy chicken breast. 

Genuinely crisp moist chicken, buttermilky too, proper fresh feeling, chewy, squishy bun, a tang or two, maybe some MSG in here? 

Who cares. We would have again. Defo. But no queueing.  

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen 
Barrhead Retail Park

Opening hours: 8m-10pm seven days

Menu: It’s all about the Fried Chicken sandwich that sparked Chicken wars in the US and turned the whole fast-food market on its head. But fries, and wings and chicken pieces too. 4/5

Service: Honestly, the queues take so long because it’s kinda chaotic, totally lost my order, but staff were very pleasant and cheery despite the blunderama. Never got the biscuit and gravy I ordered either. 4/5

Atmosphere: After four attempts I didn’t go sit in, but you don’t come here for the ambience, bright, breezy and fast-foody as it is. 3/5

Price: Chicken sandwiches £5.99, fries £2.99. No complaints about pricing from me here. 4/5

Food: Frankly? Their chicken sandwich is very good, full of flavour and texture, crisp, moreish. Fries (eaten in car) were also pleasant and well seasoned. Fried chicken and wings not so much. Sandwich alone: 8/10

Total 23/30