The Dapper Mongoose


THEY serve the bread warm at The Dapper Mongoose, a third of a banging sourdough, say, hewn into still moist hunks with a ham hough butter for spreading and melting and a chicken liver parfait for, in my case, completely ignoring.

Within moments of luxuriating in this, I’m peering at strange little lamb nugget things in breadcrumbs wondering what they are.

Is this a hoots-mon tattie-scone Scottish take on McDonald's baby food? Uh-oh. Then I taste one and realise they’re 21st century rissoles – the make-do-and-mend comfort food that my old gran used to insist got us through the war, though hers were laced with Lea & Perrins and didn’t come with lamb jus. Both pretty good, mind.

Another one of those nuggets will come sliding across the bar counter very soon hidden in an old-school sea-shell, doused in a sweet red cabbage something-I-don't-catch-through-the-waiter’s-mask, and holding aloft the six-quid scallop that’s been seared and preened and metaphorically polished to make it a bit of a show stopper in terms of taste. And pricing too. Though…it’s not a whole scallop. More a collection of scallop hunks, or trimmings but at this price? No problemo. It’s all about the flavour.

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By now it’s been about 20 minutes since I blew in with the autumn wind. All-a-huffing and a-puffing and a-panic texting Herald bunker-command to say that the restaurant you, dear readers, were supposed to read about today and whose photo we, ahem, already bloody well took, has bolted the door and stuck up a sign saying: We’re awfully tired and taking the night off. Eh?

This is all your fault, replies the Fat Controller, adding something about being more organised and not ignoring deadlines.

Roger boss, I reply, scrabbling for that secret list of reliable restaurants I keep for such gonna-get-me sacked-one-day-very-soon emergencies.

In short, I need a table tonight or there’s going to be a big white space right here and an unemployed fat food critic over there.

I scramble through the door of the The Mongoose and reach the mandatory hand-gel table before I’m stopped dead with the news that none of those completely free tables, sir, are actually even slightly free.

But, high five, I’m being guided to the bar counter and a high chair with a padded back and a wide marble counter that I can have all to my lonely-boy self.

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Fast forward again and I’m popping the last of my very light beer battered cod cheeks (not a metaphor) into the chimichurri mayo when I look up and realise the place is now completely full. Couples, foursomes, two tables of pregnant people, a full-on easy-osy neighbourhood vibe.

And so far I’ve eaten well. Light, interesting, good value stuff.

I’ve got to say I don’t like the look of the Strozzapreti Pasta with squash and blue cheese veloute, and confit egg yolk that bursts under the fork making the whole thing even more soupy, if that’s even possible.

It’s not the flavour so much as the texture of this pasta which, to me anyway, is fundamentally not right – did they par-cook it first? Or is it just too ambitious to deliver for just £7?

However, that dip is forgotten as soon as I taste the first firm flake of tandoori hake, all proper delicious spicing makhana gravy (whatever this is) and an afterburner of clean crisp lime. This is very good. So too is the gooey chocolate mousse cake, crumbly outer, soothing ice cream and a cheeky poached pear on the side.

All of this, the whole shooting match I have eaten at my surprisingly comfortable perch at the bar, has been delivered quickly, efficiently and even though two waiters are covering the whole busy, busy floor themselves, with a friendly word or too.

And it’s really good value.

The Dapper Mongoose

248 Kilmarnock Road


0141 632 4579

Menu: Out there with left-field lamb nuggets, tandoori hake, pastas and mountains of bread from local superstar The Deanston Bakery. 4/5

Service: Was flat-out on the restaurant floor, but the staff got the food out fast and still took the necessary second or two to check on things in a non-formulaic way. 4/5

Atmosphere: Plain Jane walls inside a shop-front restaurant with brick walls and the vibe from other customers adding the colour. Bar seats very comfortable. 4/5

Price: Hands-down winner on the pricing which has substantial snacks at a fiver or so, biggish small plates hovering around the £8 mark. Feels good value. 5/5

Food: Neighbourhood stealth restaurant quietly doing their own thing in an interesting way. Six quid scallop dish a treat, cod cheeks interesting, and high fives for the tandoori hake. 7/10