ONLY one restaurant in Scotland closed roads, stopped traffic, had to hire security guards to marshal customers in 2023 and it probably still won’t be appearing in the Michelin Guide any time soon.

Step forward Louisiana Popeye’s in Barrhead. The fried chicken sandwich king pretty much had the same effect in the States and when I finally got to the its latest outpost? I thought: umm this is pretty damn good.

Moist chicken, crispy coating, fresh-tasting bun. There’s a postscript, though. I have returned already – recently – now the dust has settled, the hype evaporated and got me another chicken sandwich plus sundries.

READ MORE: Glenturret Lalique Restaurant, Crieff. Ron Mackenna's restaurant review

This time: ugh. And so bloody expensive. It tasted like a deep-fried cornflake in a bun. What’s happened? An off day? Or had the opening up team been sent onto the next big buzz launch?

Consistency? Only Michelin star restaurants and fast food giants (usually) have that.

I had a far, far better toastie, of all things, at Heron in Edinburgh – then a box-fresh Michelin-starred entrant. Two slices of prune loaf, striped on a barbecue, oozing Connage Gouda, candied walnuts, dusted with burnt leek powder – the full wowser.

Sounds pretentious? Moi?

Didn’t actually matter what it was made with, it tasted … well I can still remember the flavours.

True, it was a £9 supplement, about the same as a deluxe chicken sandwich, on an, ahem, the already £95 tasting menu, but it was still knock-out people-pleasing. I would go back just for it.

Now, will I go back to Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles this year?

Hmm. Maybe. I really enjoyed it. It’s like going to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, or The Rolling Stones; costs a fortune, provides hours of entertainment, taste sensations everywhere but every year? Nah, been there.

Fairlie’s does have that air of Brideshead about it, and there’s the lobster, plus there’s the pleasure of just watching The Americans spend.

I may go back though to that other Perthshire giant, the Glenturret Lalique – not simply because it has attention-grabbing food, though even more expensive than above, and like Gleneagles supports a whole local micro-economy, but because I am still the only person on planet food insisting it should have two Michelin stars. And I am sad enough to want to say: told you. Just once in my puff. When (OK, big if) it happens.

The Herald: Glenturret LaliqueGlenturret Lalique (Image: free)

Where else will I return to? On my own dollar as the Americans say (though review meals are always fully paid for at the time by me). Damasquino in Glasgow’s Saltmarket. Definitely.

Between Christmas and New Year, in full turkey-fatigue, I forced the family out into the horizontal ice-rain for a shared house mixed grill, some of ooh-these-are-good arayes. A super-relaxed vibe. Great.

The review year ended for me with a meal at Turtle Bay in Glasgow. Just opened, Caribbean food, a chain too. Brave enough to try Glasgow, aka the city where chain restaurants come to die (count the number of big-name flops in recent years).

I didn’t hate it. The food was OK. I might even have enjoyed it if I had had a good few (jugs) of those (profit-generating) cocktails the place seems to be really about.

Nah, I won’t be trying it again.

But Glasgow city centre, and especially the small restaurants in it, need all the pulling-power help they can get. Have you ever seen it look so tired and neglected by the powers-that-be?

Somehow, and despite being a generic price moaner, I can understand and sympathise with why restaurant prices have risen – it’s usually just so some can make ends meet.

And there’s more and more on-the-street, street food actually available for those on-the-move moments.

Weirdly, perhaps, in Tradeston, just outside the Ulez zone, I stumbled upon manakish land, middle-eastern pizzas effectively, freshly baked, topped with tangy zaatar, costing literally a few quid.

There’s a huge glowing oven and a man with a plan inside the front door of the Bab Al-Hara in Oxford Street, but look about and there are many little places nearby making them fresh too.

And pizza? Definitely not dead incidentally. Still so booming that Civerino’s of Edinburgh opened up in Glasgow student land.

The next big thing? My bet is I’ll be eating the freshly baked, big square slices, al taglio style in Glasgow this coming year.

READ MORE: El Greco, Glasgow. Ron Mackenna is impressed

And while we’re on street food, I’ll be watching those food trucks.

Two visited late last year, Dough Man’s Land and El Greco, real hits with the Tickety-Tock generation. Both were surprisingly good.

But only when you don’t have time for a proper sit-down.