This article appears as part of the Food Matters newsletter.

On a Wednesday night in Glasgow city centre, it takes a lone entertainer breathing fire in the distance to settle the debate over which building we’re heading to for our dinner reservation.

A polite nod on the way past (she was really quite good) and we’re welcomed to Zhima with the same mix of nervous energy and enthusiasm that accompanies any launch night event.

The front-of-house team needn’t worry though, because lovely as they are, it’s the transformation of the Prezzo on St Vincent Place that instantly sets the right tone.

It’s a beautiful space, hitting all the right marks for the much coveted ‘Insta worthy’ status that most modern restaurants strive to achieve.

A backlit bar complete with a black-marbled counter? It’s there. Soft lighting in dark wooden booths that are irresistibly photogenic? Yep, them too. Detailed glassware to make that Lychee Martini look extra chic? You bet.

When it arrives, our food is vibrant and flavourful from pork and chicken meatballs in a thick and nutty satay sauce to succulent slow roast pork belly in a Sichuan sauce delicately spiced with chilli.

The Herald:
Diving into my choice of Fillet Steak Cantonese Style with an added side of wok-fried noodles, I note that it tastes like a well-executed version of a dish you would be happy to receive from your favourite Chinese takeaway. Bonus points in my book.

It’s only later when looking into the prices and finding this course alone costs a total of just under £35 that I question whether I’d rather consult Deliveroo when craving something similar in future.

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But that, unfortunately, is the world we live in and to their credit, Zhima delivers decent portion sizes and tasty food in a smart-casual setting.

The kind of restaurant that does what it says on the tin, and one I imagine as the starting point of many a birthday night out or dinner date this summer.

My only concern? This place is big. Very big, in fact, as a nosey walk to the back of the venue later reveals.

It’s while trying to picture the place full during a regular weeknight service that I struggle to chase a discussion I’d had with one of Scotland’s leading culinary figures earlier that afternoon from my thoughts.

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Food MattersTime to salute our local dining spots again before they disappear for good

The closure of Brian Maule at Le Chardon d’Or last summer sent shockwaves through the city, for many serving as a stark warning that no one was safe.

Although apprehensive to wade into any tired political squabbling surrounding the loss of his restaurant, Maule had told me: “The city is tired and in a bad way at the moment.

“It’s not getting the same footfall and then there's the LEZ.

“The reality is that people are hanging on and hoping for change that might not come.”

The Herald:
I liked Zhima. And, as the latest opening from the Hunky Dory Group which owns Panang, Topolabamba and Chaakoo Bombay Café not far down the road, can appreciate that its owners know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in the city centre.

But with such stiff competition, and diners who are looking to spend what spare cash they have on high-quality, value-for-money meals, I just hope they can hold onto that launch night spark long after that friendly fire dancer’s flame has faded.

You can read the full exclusive interview on what comes next for Chef Brian Maule here, and find out more about Zhima here.