12.15, Wednesday lunchtime, and not in the city centre, surely we’ll be the only customers at Halloumi Southside? But no, a table of three is there already, another three groups trickle in behind us, and as the minutes tick by, that trickle turns into a very healthy stream of diners, not what I’d expect from a sleepy residential area at this time of day.

Of course the express lunch menu, where you get any three dishes from a list of ten for £9.95, is a distinct financial incentive. But there’s also something about Halloumi Southside that makes it an upbeat, appealing place to be in anyway. These generous corner premises, flooded with light, fill me, at least temporarily, with optimism. They transport me to more carefree times, where climate change and Brexit weren’t playing on a Groundhog Day loop.

What with the duck egg blue walls, the cool marble top bar, this uplifting sense of space, and this wood that looks almost as if it’s been bleached by the sun, we might be in a restaurant in Cyprus, or some other warm Mediterranean spot where azure seas lap up to the door. And most importantly, Halloumi Southside smells good, the whiff of an expertly managed charcoal grill. After curling under your nose enticingly this mouthwatering aroma grabs you by the collar and frog marches you inside to eat.

I’ve chosen the avocado and black olive hummus out of curiosity, and it’s the only so-so dish of our selection. Avocado makes it smoother and they aren’t stingy with the tahini here, but the olives are the cardboard-y stoned type; they just don’t have enough intrinsic character to make any impact. Mind you, lashings of extra virgin olive oil from the tin that sits generously on the table, makes it slip down well enough. Even so the hummus is instantly eclipsed by the keftedes, three large, lamb meatballs. They’re soft, as though some bread has been added to lighten the mix, and capably seasoned with cinnamon, mint, garlic, and parsley. In their sweetish tomato sauce, with a blob of Greek yogurt, they’re extremely satisfying.

RED MORE: Black Rooster Per-Peri, Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow. Review by Ron Mackenna

It’s clever, this subtle Greek spicing, and this sure hand with meat. Halloumi’s moussaka is another glowing example .It puts my own cack-handed domestic efforts into perspective. Aubergine- possibly cooked on the char grill?- is dreamily soft. None of that squeaky firm resistance in the mouth, and no excess oil either. The mince layer is slack with tomato and fragrant with cinnamon, the Béchamel layer sloppy. Floury potatoes soak up the meaty, creamy juices. I’m more interested in the vegetable dolmades than grabbed by them. They’re stuffed with carrots, green beans, and that chalky, plump-grained white rice that Greeks use, ingredients that can’t stand up to the herbal bitterness of the vine leaves. I suspect that the lamb version would work much better.

Grilled dishes leave us bathed in an afterglow of admiration for this chef’s mastery of hot coals. Bresaola here- not to be confused with Italian bresaola, a cured meat- is three large lamb chops. They’ve been French trimmed of excess fat so the bone is exposed, and I’d guess marinated in oil, lemon, and herbs; I think I detect oregano, mint, finely chopped bay leaf. They’re totally tender, pink where they should be at the bone, and crustily blackened from the grill. Dressed with a lemony parsley, tomato and onion salsa, and doused in extra virgin olive oil, these cutlets are belters. And grilling makes the very best of octopus too, its bouncy, filling tentacles once again marinated, I’d guess, and lathered with smoked paprika. The juicy centre, the lightly blackened, almost lacquered exterior, this is the way to eat octopus.

Food here is so filling in a protein-rich, non-stodgy way that we have no need for pudding, but I can’t pass up the offer of galaktaboureko, a tongue-rolling name for the Greek take on custard tart. If you imagine a really good bread and butter pudding, flavoured with orange zest rather than raisins, then encase it in filo that’s soft and enveloping rather than crisp, then you've got the measure of this too-good-to-miss dessert.

I can see why Halloumi Southside is pulling them in, and it’s not just the bargain menu that’s doing it.

Halloumi Southside,

697 Pollokshaws Road

Glasgow 0141 423 6340

Food: 8 and a half/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Value for money: 10/10