Goat In The Tree


Your table was actually booked for 6.45pm, the waiter girl at the doorway with the cool skip cap and the DMs tells me. Not a hint of irony on her face. Considering it’s now 7.30pm and I’ve just bounced in all-a-breezy and thinking check-me-I’m-early – this could turn awkward.

Hmm, she laughs as my mouth forms one of those doughball “O” shapes. Sorry, I say eyes sliding sideways like a bolting cart-horse trying to see if, and potential disaster this, they’re now completely full.

In the end? I blame Joe. Obviously (I mean who books for 6.45pm). And he hasn’t even trapped. Now I’m squeezing myself into a tiny table by an open kitchen, on a creaky but languid wicker chair in full and plain sight of that photo of the goat-in-the-tree from whence this restaurant surely takes its (somewhat brilliant) name.

Twinkly lights, filament bulbs, some drapey stuff on the walls, wooden floors, white tables, I inhale it all. In relief. It’s a restaurant-in-a-shop. Really. But somehow, and I tell myself this as I take the first spoonful of Harira Soup, lightly spiced Morrocan vegetable since you ask, they’ve mastered cosy-vibe.

It’s full too. I count 13 diners including a couple on a night-before-Valentine’s date whose table is so damn close to mine I swear they’re texting each other asking who invited the fat dude.

Read more: ‘The food is simple and decent but it needs sparkle. It all felt a little awkward’

Obviously, I pretend I can’t hear every-single-word, and send my knife crashing through a Chicken Pastilla. Layers of filo snap, a dusting of icing sugar rises, hot chicken, almond and vermicilli spill – savouriness soaring before a cinnamon afterburn arrives.

“Try this?” I’ll say to Joe who has just ambled in from the fives claiming he thought it was a 7.45pm shot. “These people know how to make cous-cous,” I add, nodding to the kitchen.

And taking way more than my share of a fluffy, yet drenched with the flavours of a damn good stock plus maybe some ras-el-hanout, pile of this good stuff. Spoon snicking another section of that grilled Merguez sausage while I am at it.

Ultimately? The Zaalouk will be finished first. Triangles of pitta bread flashing into the fabulous (yet not at all pretty) blend of aubergine, roast tomato, softly-softly cumin and clove. Yes.

There will be a momentary pause to all this eating while I fire up Shazam to see if that actually is Def Leppard drifting through the sound system, sadly there’s too much diner chatter to confirm this potential moment of wonderful weirdness.

And on we go. Moroccan Chicken, braised in saffron, falling from the bone (I was given a choice) on a mound of turmeric rice – yet again cooked in a good and spiced stock – juicy, richly-flavoured braised vegetables hidden like little joy nuggets inside.

There’s a tagine, of course, steam rising as the earthenware lid is removed by our very pleasant waiter girl as she pivots between the restaurant’s tight tables. Meatballs then. Little ones. Tiddlers really. A fried egg atop.

More sweet, tangy spicing to the tomato sauce it all sits upon. Frankly? A tad sharp. Doesn’t wow until a bowl of cous-cous gets tipped into the mix and now, suddenly that mellow-fellow means there’s something much more than the sum of these parts here.

Honest food then. Simple. Clean. Punchy. At my elbow right now, a heavy silver pot of mint tea, I usually drink Lidl’s TBH, but this is stronger deeper, fresher and as we kick back and all plates are completely cleared there’s that feeling of glorious inertia that only follows a meal well eaten, in a restaurant well rounded.

So? I don’t want to move. Let’s have the cheesecake, says the man who can’t recall the last one he ate that didn’t feel like it was made by Gregg Wallace in a hair-net pressing buttons in a monster factory.

And? Crisp and more-ish digestive and butter base (I used to know what that’s called), light vanilla flavoured cheesecakey stuff, toffee sauce. It is home-made. And it works. All of it.

Goat In The Tree

16 Park Road,


G4 9JG

Tel: 0141-286-5858

Open: closed Wednesday

Menu: it’s Moroccan, so cous-cous, tagines, Zaalouk, Merguez, great Pastilla not breaking any new ground but who needs to? 4/5

Service: Friendly, even when I turned up 45 minutes late, cheery and helpful. 5/5

Price: There still are very reasonably priced restaurants out there: Big dishes, Moroccan Chicken and Tagine say, at £11.95, small dishes float from under a fiver to £7 for the Pastilla. 4/5

Atmosphere: Listen, it’s tiny, it’s old skool, no restaurant designer ever had their hands on it, but somehow, it’s warm, cosy and pretty comfortable. 5/5

Food: Simple things done very well; that M’hammar or Moroccan chicken was just good honest and satisfying food; the Pastilla and the Zaalouk likewise. Great Cous-Cous too. 8/10