Saturday, 21 January 2017

Restaurant review: The Ubiquitous Chip, Ashton Lane, Glasgow

Glasgow might not be the most obvious destination for an anniversary getaway (nine years!), but being the trend-bucking radicals that we are, that's where we just had ours. It was all very lovely and everything and I'll maybe write a post about some of the jolly capers we got up to, but just for the time being let's have a review of one of its finer restaurants shall we? Alright!

Peering in from the outside, Glasgow seems to have an enviably strong restaurant game. There's none of your Michelin stars, but unlike Manchester, where this seems to really matter, Glasgow's restaurant scene seems happy just to shrug its shoulders and carry on, with a really formidable array of mid-range independents turning out menus of interesting ways with fine ingredients. Having not visited the city in years, and probably not since I developed an interest in premium restauration, we decided to hit up a couple of the city's tried and trusted old-stagers. Expect, in due course, to see some words describing our evening at Rogano's, but today I'm going to prattle on about The Ubiquitous Chip.

Set on the rather lovely and rather lively Ashton Lane, the place has been feeding people since 1971. The name has got something to do with the fact that owner Ronnie Clydesdale apparently refused to kowtow to Glaswegian tastes by serving chips, although they now do, of which more later. The experience of walking in for the first time is fantastic, as you struggle to take in the sheer quantity of plant life in front of you. The place is festooned by about half a jungle's worth of greenery. As we climbed the twinkly-lit staircase up to the brasserie we were welcomed by some very cheery staff, some really striking maritime-inspired artwork and a whole bunch more flora. I really, really liked it.

Sourdough, beetroot and horseradish dip
As I did their house sourdough, toothsome of crust and tangy of crumb, which was served with a perky beetroot and horseradish dip. Our waitress said their farm is awash with beetroot, so it's finding its way into a lot of their dishes. I'd have liked a bit more horseradish thwack. Or just butter, actually. Still; really very good bread.

Being avec child has made eating out somewhat of a pain in the arse for Kasia, what with all those unpasteurised cheeses, rare-cooked meats and mercury-ridden fish to watch out for, so another word for our waitress who took all this in her stride, as well as recommending a couple of mocktails (I hate that word, but whatevs, at least I don't have to drink them). Want to know what someone used to drinking water looks like when they get to have something really tasty for a change? Here you go:

Starters, and we both went for haggis, mine being their signature venison effort and Kasia's being a vegetarian job. They both looked pretty identical, so one pic will do.

The Chip's own venison haggis, neeps and tatties
Both were excellent. The venison one had serious depth, and was perfectly seasoned and spiced. I'd be interested to know which bits of the beast went into this as I thought you had to get the innards out of the things while still on the hill to prevent the meat going off. I forget half the stuff that went into the veggie one - lots of pulses - but it was cleverly done. I initially questioned the lack of a whisky sauce, but the neeps and tatties had been lubricated by appropriate amounts of butter, so all was well.

Pentland pheasant breast, smoked aubergine, chargrilled celeriac
Pheasant, being so lean, is a bugger to cook right, as I've learned by painful experience. No issues here: the breast was moist and tasted properly of the moors, if perhaps just a smidge underdone. All the accompanying bits and bobs, especially the aubergine and celeriac purées, were lovely, displaying exemplary technique.

Ox cheek, cumin carrots, caremlised banana shallot, puffed buckwheat, cauliflower purée
What was less great was that our mains had actually arrived just as we were finishing our starters; someone must've called them away by mistake. Whether it had anything to do with this I don't know, but they weren't especially hot. I'd like to think I'm not one of those chumps on T***advisor who judges a place on whether or not it serves "piping hot" food, but these were scarcely luke. Anyway, for all that Kasia's main of ox cheek had lovely spoonable meat, having been cooked down for who knows how long, and some unusually delicious carrots to boot.

Chips were good. Not quite crisp enough to be so good as to need  to be ubiquitous, but good nonetheless.

Highland crowdie cheesecake, bramble sorbet, honeyed oats
This was not the kind of place I'd have expected to hear a phrase so try-hard and pretentious as "deconstructed" uttered by anyone, but that's what our waitress said as Kasia's cheesecake - sorry, "cheesecake", plopped onto the table. Regardless of the status of its construction, it was very tasty, especially the bramble sorbet which was a bracing blast of hedgerow.

Chocolate and whisky cremeux, toasted mallow, meringue
My own pud was a nice balance between the grown-up flavours of bittersweet chocolate and whisky, and the less grown up sweetness of flumpy meringue. Do you still get flumps? Honestly, I used to love flumps!

With a glass each of very fine Negroamaro and Pedro Ximinez for me, the bill came to eighty six quid, not including service. Pretty reasonable for a fine meal of very competent cooking.

But - and not to sound unappreciative of the food - it's the room we ate it all in which was the star here. I've never been anywhere quite like it. If you fancy eating in what feels like the canopy of some temperate jungle without having to leave the west end of Glasgow, the Chip comes recommended. Which, if you live in that fair city, I imagine you already very much knew.


The Ubiquitous Chip
12 Ashton Lane
G12 8SJ

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