For seven years, Bilson Eleven has maintained a reputation as one of Glasgow’s best dining experiences, with reservations for their tasting menus notoriously difficult to come by.

When we speak, owner Nick Rietz, 39, has just returned from a well-earned holiday and has been welcomed back to the Dennistoun spot with one of its busiest weeks since before covid.

In the current climate it’s reassuring to hear the restaurant is showing no signs of slowing down, especially after a bold move which put a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint into practice almost two years ago.

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He said: “After the pandemic, I decided to remove any farmed animals from our menu.

“I think we all came out the other side of covid wanting to be a better version of ourselves, and for me, that meant evaluating how sustainably we were running the restaurant.

“We’ve worked with some great farms in the past but looking into the figures behind beef production there’s no denying the damage caused by methane.

“I didn’t want my kids coming to me in 20 years’ time and saying, ‘I can’t believe you served beef at your restaurant.”

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Suddenly banishing a sizeable chunk of produce from the kitchen could have presented a difficult test for some, but not Nick whose years working at the Two Fat Ladies had already helped him to hone a talent for cooking with seafood.

And besides, Bilson Eleven is far from meat-free with Scottish venison and game still very much on the menu.

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There is, however, one consequence of covid which lingers.

He said: “We stripped everything back after covid which meant we could no longer offer vegetarian, gluten or dairy-free options.

“We definitely lost bookings because of it, but at the same time, people were really understanding of the fact that it’s only me in the kitchen.

“I’m not an octopus.

“The only way we could have kept them was by taking the level of what we were doing way down and making the experience a lot more casual.

“But we’re always striving for excellence in food: that’s just who we are.”

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There is a silver lining in sight for vegans, veggies and part-time plant-based eaters, though as this summer Nick prepares to tackle three days of fully vegan cooking with matching wines to boot.

With a month to go until Bilson Eleven's 'Vegan Week', he already finds himself deep in the preparation stages for the event, determined to show diners that they won’t miss the meat.

He said: “If I didn’t like a challenge, we wouldn’t be doing it.

“It’s the polar opposite of what we usually do in the kitchen.

“Going from using eggs or wee bits of butter here and there to completely plant-based is tricky, but we’ve been working on developing some really interesting new recipes and techniques.

“There’s an optional wine pairing that we’ve had to consider too because we would usually build up to a nice red with a meat-based savoury course and will now have to replicate that with something like mushroom seitan.

“A few of the people who have booked in have been before, so I know they’re meat eaters, and I’m looking forward to presenting them with this menu.”

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The Vegan Week will run in early September, a date specifically selected to allow for an abundance of seasonal vegetables to work with.

There’s talk of blackened veg, slow-cooked to release a deep, umami flavour, gelatine that’s been swapped for seaweed-based Agar Agar and an alternative to egg whites which delivers equally fluffy results.

His tests have been so successful, in fact, that the chef now intends to continue using a number of plant-based recipe substitutions in line with his quest for a truly sustainable kitchen.

It’s a cause which has in recent years served as the driving force behind similar fine-dining restaurants across Scotland.

But, as talk returns to all things farming, Nick warns that real progress will only be made when the big players are ready to get on board too.

He said: “Taking farmed animals off our menu has already massively helped us to lower our carbon footprint and sustainability will always be at the forefront of what we do.

“Small kitchens making these adjustments is all well and good, but I think the issue is larger restaurants which are churning out factory-farmed beef burgers.

“It will be a challenge, but that’s where the changes really need to be made.”

Bilson Eleven’s Vegan Week will run from September 6th. For more information visit