Henry’s Cafe Bar and Restaurant, Shawlands, Glasgow

A focaccia, then, as big as a mattress, all pillowy and billowy and with the unmistakeable, and faintly vinegary, tang of the full fat sourdough about it.

We shave slivers of lemon-za’atar butter and clamp them between big, moist, aerated hunks. Torn off while marvelling at the following a) that focaccia tastes fresh even on a Sunday and b) just how bloody big is this place.

Henry’s may be up a side street, near at gym and a chipper just off main drag in Shawlands, but from the outside at least it’s so small, unimposing and hut-like that if it was on an island, and surrounded by grazing sheep, I would fully expect to be buying stamps from it.


Il Pastaio, Glasgow - new Italian fails to hit the mark

Hazel, Glasgow. Ron Mackenna struggles to find a theme on the menu

Dulse, Edinburgh: Is this Scotland's best fish restaurant?

Yet when we walked in here it totally surprised by stretching into an impossibly long, low interior, with shady corners, comfy booths and even cubby-bits.

To our left, then, a sprawling bar with waitresses halloooing and a tiny kitchen beyond that from whence our slabs of Potato Schiacciata with asparagus, hollandaise espuma and pecorino now arrive.

Schiacciata? Potato bread. Cheese on top, grilled to a crisp, potato-flour-dough combo in the middle; firm, thick, kinda more-ish. Is it stodgy? Ooh, it teeters, skates, maybe even wobbles at definite moments in that direction, but somehow stays upright long enough to get fully eaten.

We’re supposed to plop it into that hollandaise, add punch through the Pecorino saltiness and we do. But far better to dip it into the Pomegranate Hot Sauce and Macadamia Dukkah that arrived with the Curried Carrot Hummus.

Honestly? This hummus is un-put-down-able and I scarf it in big, tangy, greedy dollops. The pitta bread that’s come with it though is dry, nowhere near fresh enough and, apart from an exploratory nibble, left untouched.

Now, as we eat at our tiny table, dishes overspilling onto the tables on either side, some Sunday lunchtime drama is taking place at the bar behind. A woman. Is she laughing or crying? Sadness or happiness? Impossible to tell. Smiling barmaids there anyway. Arms stretching. Then these immortal words in comfort; can we get you some olives?

If I ever get round to drinking again, I’ll say to Debs, as we settle into this room, low-slanting Sunday sunshine casting moody shadows through the furniture, this might be the very place to have a right good all-day chill out. It is a bar, of course. But in the way of all modern bars: also a cafe. Also a restaurant.

Sign up for Ron's newsletter and get his review two whole days before it appears anywhere else.

And, no, none of the food we’ve eaten so far seems likely to have been crafted in that tiny kitchen this very morning. Not surely this cured sea trout, fermented kohlrabi, buttermilk and dill. This one’s not for Debs incidentally, she recoils at the firm, almost chewy texture of the trout; it super-pink interior matching exactly, coincidentally, the colour of the Gazzetta dello Sport and also exposing itself gamely, if slightly waxily, beneath a dusting of spices. I like it. It’s a hefty fillet, there’s an interesting sour-tart thang happening with the buttermilk.

The Herald: Henry’s has some great flavoursHenry’s has some great flavours (Image: free)

For what it is and where we are? I’m not complaining. Come back at night time, one of the waitresses says as she lingers for a mo, the menu is longer. More choice. We grab a swatch at that menu. She’s right: there’s sea-bream with haricot beans, pickled mussels and txistora (chorizo) available, and also charred courgette with curried yoghurt.

Cooking, then, takes place here in the evenings. Is it a little bit too hipster-pretentious as one (quite funny) review suggests rather cruelly on the internet? Are hipsters even still a thing? I haven’t seen a pair of Converse All Stars on a fixed gear bicycle for yonks.

We customers this lunchtime, and it’s by no means full, are a pretty mixed bag of ages, stages and dress sense. Not a single beard, I can report. And the only woolly jumper is worn by this geezer here.

No Basque Cheesecake Delice, unfortunately, we’re told by our waitress. That’s no problem. We’ve eaten enough. And we were only passing anyway.

Henry’s Cafe Bar and Restaurant, 5 Abbot Street, Shawlands, Glasgow

Menu: Hipster-style or a never-ending search for new sensations? Potato Schiacciata, Curried Carrot Hummus, cured sea trout. 4/5

Service: Pleasant, relaxed and helpful staff all round. 5/5

Atmosphere: If you like long, low, secret bar-cum-diners then this is the place for you. 4/5

Price: That focaccia was £6, most of the medium-sized plates hover around £12. Okay. 3/5

Food: Nothing had the just-cooked feel, so a bit of assembly but done well and prettily. Some of the flavours were a big hit. 6/10

Total: 22/30