THERE will be a point in the meal when a glass of chenin blanc will suddenly and unexpectedly arrive at this table. I’ll be drizzling rosemary jus over the venison haunch, Joe will be crunching a kale crisp and we’ll both frankly be dissing the reheat temperature, lukewarm incidentally, of the otherwise fine potato gratin.

We’ll look up with the sort of dumb-surprised expressions that startle the life outta waiting staff, the wine glass will be immediately be reverse-ferret lifted from the table and carried off with an apology somewhere deeper into the fuzzy-lit interior of Hazel.

Presumably to the customer who actually ordered it. Keep It Together, by Kraak & Smaak (you’ll be familiar with them surely) will be percolating from the sound system; oozing by that full-sized tree (convincing but fake), under the high tables, past those uncomfortable-looking couch-tables before settling in the booth that Joe and I are somewhat squeezed into.

The Herald: Exterior of HazelExterior of Hazel (Image: Colin Mearns)

The remnants of a haddock fillet, batter-seasoned and crispy (fish pretty good, most, if not all of the pretty generic chips eaten), will sprawl across its plate. I’ll not be giving a single thought to that chenin blanc now, except for a moment when I look up and wonder if the bar area in this vast restaurant is actually in a completely different room. Miles away. Like the kitchen perhaps.

In the new hotel that I have now realised it is attached to. By now we’ll have had the Cullen skink (£9), creamy yes, but with flavour to the stock and packed with surprisingly hot but still juicy hunks of smoked haddock, dill oil drizzled atop.

Incidentally, I struggled with the menu at first – linguine, pork belly, venison, chicken breast yada-yada – just to try and find a theme. A personality. Some sourcing even. Apart from safe, and what seems to me, familiar and ordinary middle-market.

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We end up ordering pretty much the only two faintly interesting Scottish dishes from the small plates section: the Merguez sausage and Campbell’s haggis croquettes turning out to be less impressive than the soup; three small-ish balls popped down with any filling flavour drowned out by the crisp bread-crumbing, at £8 too.

Cunningly, they’ve made the entrance to Hazel separate from the hotel’s out on George Street, which confuses (theme of the night here) the life outta me and Joe too when he eventually rocks up. Saying that: what an entrance.

The door opens halfway up a wall, stairs dropping suddenly away, room stretching forever, lighting fab, furnishings slick, the sheer airy vastness of it all striking.

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That lighting is so low, however, that I can’t work out if this place also doubles as the hotel’s dining room and breakfast bar. There are some strange low counters across that back wall there, and do I detect that lack of focus, missing hands-on management feel that chain hotel restaurants often smack of? I do at least count one member of staff for every single customer when I arrive; but as there are only three customers in total that’s not necessarily a great sign. It is a Tuesday, though.

How’s it been, I ask our very pleasant waitress, nodding towards the tundra of unoccupied tables? “We’ve been busy at weekends,” she replies. Difficult though, I think, to attract customers to a hotelish restaurant, even with a hidden doorway, tucked off George Square, when so many other, actual restaurants have to be passed just to get here?

The Herald: Interior of HazelInterior of Hazel (Image: Colin Mearns)

We’ll have a chocolate and orange tart anyway at, wait for this, £10, and it splits opinion. Not much work gone into this, I think – just slice, plate, add a jug of custard. But they do put a dod of ice-cream on the side and that price includes £2 extra for that.

Something I won’t even notice until I look at the bill, right now, as I’m writing this column. Muttering at being charged £3 for a 200ml (that’s small) bottle of, umm, Pepsi. And … £9 for a chenin blanc. That we didn’t even have. Sigh.

65 John Street

Tel: 0141-726-0340

Menu:  I struggled to find a theme, or to detect much sourcing, from a pretty safe and predictable middle market selection of chicken, pork belly, fish n’chips plus small plates. 3/5

Atmosphere: Genuinely impressive enormous and airy yet atmospherically lit dining room. At night anyway, I liked it.  Even though it was almost empty. 4/5

Service: Waitress was great, the wine was brought randomly by someone else, but the place lacks any feel that someone is hands-on running it.  3/5

Price: Falls into the trap most hotel based restaurants run into: expensive for what it is, with starters easily hitting £8 plus, mains nudging £20, venison £24. 3/5

Food: The Cullen Skink was good, the croquettes less so at the price, the venison was fine though components at different temperatures, overall safe if pretty unexciting. 6/10

TOTAL: 19/30