The Dapper Mongoose


THE streets are completely empty as I roll up to an open door, a barricaded entrance, and a dim interior, to be met with nothing more than a bottle of primo-quality handwash and some bald instructions on a lonely table.

Such is the weirdness of our world that’s there a film noir feel to Shawlands this dank, dark Saturday night.

Someone, somewhere, is in there to complete the food handover, I hope, as I look up to see a couple wandering from a pool of yellow street light towards this very same door.

Uh-oh, I’m a few minutes early. They spot me and veer off pulling their masks tighter, walking quickly in case, presumably, a searchlight suddenly clunks on. Sigh.

Now, say, 15 minutes later, it’s a relief to be back home and pulling tubs from a paper bag like mussels from a shell.

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What’s this, what’s that, go the questions as lids are popped and the family gather. Tempura broccoli, I announce, crunching into a lightly seasoned stem. These, I add, are something called lamb nuggets. Picture speech bubbles suddenly floating above our heads, containing the single word: uh? Is that, I add, squid ink? No, it’s black garlic aoili. More crunchity crunch, these are rich, moist almost sweetly strange.

Whole moments are spent determining which is the pork belly and morcilla arancini and which the Cajun chicken scotch egg with harissa.

Dapper Mongoose

“There’s always a Scotch Egg,” observes the teenager, with the weariness of a teenager. That’s because I like them, replies the adult, with the smugness of an adult; noting the yolk is still runny, the flavour light and the chicken moist.

There isn’t always a peely wally steamed bao bun though. Not on Glasgow’s south side anyway. This one’s topped with beer battered cod, tartare sauce and baby gem and is going extremely very well.

At this rate, most of the food will be eaten before we even sit down.

But we must sit down for the Beef Wellington, squash puree, cabbage and jus. Four plump, duck-fat roast potatoes adding a not very reasonable £6 to the beef’s very reasonable £20 (for two people). And nobody could eat a bowl of burrata, preserved lemon and black pepper in a gloop of tiny orzo pasta and mascarpone whilst standing. No, siree. This, I’ve got to say right now, is not for me: too creamy, oozy, and gooey for my sensibilities but Mrs Mackenna really likes it.

Now, press the freeze frame button here as we stop to consider when exactly burrata became fashionable in Scotland.

As for that Wellington? I would have put all somebody’s lockdown dough on this being a total car crash, never in a gazillion years being the sort of food that’s suitable for pre-order, collection and transport home.

I kinda ordered it out of mischievousness. But if I had wagered I would have lost that money. The pastry is light and golden, the prosciutto (or damp-proof course) remains tight, the fillet is surprisingly tender and pink, the pate no more than a lingering tang. Boom, it’s gone within minutes of us sitting. And apart from perhaps the slightest hint of moisture, a hint at a Mary Berry soggy bottom?

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Incidentally, there isn’t a dish here that doesn’t march onto its plate accompanied by a dip, a jus, a gravy, some crispy onions, spring onions, a harrissa or truffle mayo – so full marks for accessories and for effort.

It’s not all interesting, tasty and bold though. The slow cooked beef flatbread, wholegrain mustard, butter and, sit down for this one, smoked cheddar jus is only loosely based on a great idea. In practice, that beef, deliciously moist as it is, drowns the flatbread and the jus just makes it even wetter.

As for the hand-cut chips, chorizo mac n cheese, smoked cheddar, goat’s cheese and crispy onions? The chefs should leave them to cool in a tub for 20 minutes and then see what it looks like.

The Dapper Mongoose

248 Kilmarnock Road

Glasgow, G43 1TT

0141 632 4579

Menu: Eclectic, interesting. Battered cod baos, cute Beef Wellingtons, broccoli tempuras and even chicken Scotch eggs to take away. 5/5

Service: Hey, it’s a handover at a set time, in an otherwise darkened restaurant, what’s to complain about? 3/5

Atmosphere: Order over something called the telephone, pick up in person, certainly atmospheric. 3/5

Price: A bit erratic given it’s a bargain-basement £20 for the Beef Wellington for two and £6 for the spuds that go with it, and most taster plates are only £4.50. It’s quality food all round though. 4/5

Food: The crispy cod bao was a triumph; the Beef Wellington, too, if orzo in burrata is your thing you’ll like that. Pretty good stuff. 8/10