Cail Bruich


IT'S high stools at high noon on Glasgow’s Great Western Road as the Covid shackles come off and chef Lorna McNee can finally cook the food that has won her this city’s first Michelin star for 17 years – for customers who are actually on the premises.

High stools because the only table left when I booked was the chef’s one, a lofty two-seater perch staring right into the tiny kitchen from where we watch culinary clockwork soldiers in white whirl and birl their way through a multi-course tasting menu, in a blizzard of oui-chefs.

Occasionally, that very same head chef will calmly say, “do that again” and from our ringside seat we’ll try and work out what the problem was: a tiny dent in a ceramic dish of butter, the slightest smear on the side of a bowl, a micro-herb out of place.

The menu notes prepared for the staff in here, and which I will see a copy of at the end of the meal, run to 17 pages of dense text – possibly hundreds of ingredients, dozens of techniques, nothing to cross the pass unless it is perfect.

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A single west coast langoustine tail is speckled golden from its roasting tin, moist and sweet, placed over the claw meat which has been itself mixed with pink grapefruit and basil and finished with a Japanese ponzu dressing – all fresh citrus sharpness.

The Scrabster turbot, brined for 20 minutes, poached at 53 degrees during service, stuffed with a mousse, prepared from two stocks that are passed through muslin, served with bergamot gel, fennel pollen, dill oil and toasted almonds – and that’s not even the half of it. Crikey.

High noon, anyway, because at precisely 11.57 am we were standing out there on Great Western Road, staring at a firmly locked pastel blue door, only the addition of a small red Michelin plaque indicating that since lockdown started this restaurant’s status has changed spectacularly, and I was peering through the windows into a deserted room with that uh-oh feeling you only get when you turn up at a restaurant with your son, as an 18th birthday treat, and find, eek, it’s closed.

Especially when he would probably have preferred fried chicken.

Except it isn’t closed. Boom. Twelve on the dot, locks turn, bolts slide, doors swing open and suddenly it’s full of chefs, maitre’ds, waiting personages all standing at their posts poised for battle.

The performance starts with sourdough buns straight from the oven, decadent butters, smoked eel and mackerel with sharp apple, soothing cucumber, creme fraiche and Exmoor caviar, puffed rice to. Then those langoustine; moving onto asparagus with summer truffle, black garlic, morel, Madiera sauce.

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There’s a moment of contemplation when the duck is placed on our little bench table, the chef stepping back from the kitchen ballet to talk us through a clean, crisp and, of course, beautiful plate of food; spiced salt, a honey glaze containing cabernet sauvignon vinegar, a fabulous rosemary and garlic potato emulsion and that duck.

The fuss about Michelin starred restaurants is simply this: they may often be of a certain style, but they never drop below a very high standard.

And all those young sous chefs, those very professional restaurant staff, in a couple of years they’ll be opening their own restaurants creating a spin-off trickle down that will benefit this whole city. Hurrah.

Oh, and there’s always a conversation-stopping course. This afternoon it’s the dessert. Based on the dish that won Lorna McNee The Great British Menu in 2019 and set her, presumably, on the road to Michelin stardom.

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We crack a golden tulle dome that’s strewn with flower petals, descend into a pina colada sorbet, pineapple cream, coconut espuma, swoop through lime gels and curds and on even to fresh mango, pineapple, kiwi, mint and a flash of tequila gold. Sweet, sour, refreshing and most importantly memorable.

No, these meals are not cheap. But it’s a performance, a show, like enjoying a very good concert.

Cail Bruich

725 Great Western Road


0141 334 6255

Menu: Very best of Scottish food transformed with that Michelin flair including turbot, mackerel, langoustine. 5/5

Service: Far more relaxed and comfortable on this visit – as all the best restaurants should be. Top marks. 5/5

Atmosphere: It’s a small restaurant opening right onto Great Western Road and we had the chef’s table. Other tables perhaps more comfortable. 4/5

Price: Chef’s tasting menu is £90, the chef’s table is lofty but for a multi-course performance is good value. 4/5

Food: The work that goes into every single dish is staggering, the professionalism of the whole operation is impressive. Memorable. 9/10