who see no further than repro brass. David Brown. responsible for marketing Maison Hector. argues that a lot ofthought has gone into the project. He recognised a gap in the market in Edinburgh — a need for a stylish venue for image-conscious people seeking interesting surroundings: The Shambles was losing money and becoming seedy. a haunt for all kinds of ‘unsavouries'. it was a bad time to sell. and anyway the space itself was a dream for an inspired concept-man like lan (irier.
And Stockbridge'.’ .\'ot exactly the centre of the club scene. or even a place many would think of going out to. But that is precisely what attracted Alloa. Maison llector is far enough out of town ‘to deter idiots”. as they say. and to avoid being taken over by very young trendies. But it‘s not just that: research showed that there is a significant local population with nowhere to go. During the daytime it is particularly popular with women — those working and those shopping.
And why this incarnation'.’ Why purple for example'.’ ‘Why not'." says I Ian (irier. Well I can think ofone or two good reasons. Life-span. for example; won’t people tire of this . stylish fantasy as quickly as they have 3 of the theme-pubs and cafe-bars we have been talking about‘.’ And
Glasgow‘s Triangle — I loved it. and it was the closest thing I have seen to what Grier is doing here. but it has gone out of business. ‘The Triangle went bust because it was upstairs; simple as that.‘ says (irier. ‘Diners and drinkers have an aversion to going up or downstairs. But (ilasgow is very different from Edinburgh. It is the most fashionable and style-conscious city in the L} K — L'topia for the customer. but a nightmare for operators. There is
Glasgow is very dillerentlrom Edinburgh. It isthe most fashionable and style-conscious city in the UK— Utopia lorthe customer, but a nightmare for operators.
such choice that a place can be
fashionable for as short a time as one
week. hardly anywhere survives as a
hot spot longer than eighteen
months. [wouldn‘t dream of opening somewhere like this in Glasgow now.‘
It seems Edinburgh folk are less adventurous but more loyal. Anyway. (irier assures me. Maison Hector is not just another cafe bar. In fact. according to him the cafe bar is dead. Scots are just not going to start nibbling croissants at 7am. and we are not tolerating any more
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(irier may be a formidable talker. but Maison l lector is already popular. and you only have to go inside to see that many of his claims are true. There is an attractive. informal atmosphere. thanks to staff who are polite and attentive. but relaxed and certainly not intimidating: your mother would feel comfortable. and she wouldn’t be offended by the music — I heard easy jazz. the odd aria. and Nat King (‘ole. Food is taken seriously. and drinkers are not allowed to encroach on the dining area. But the menu is accommodating. offering a selection of quick dishes such as baked baguette with melted chaumes (£3.45) and grulm dauplzinoisc (£4.25) throughout the day. and introducing a more extensive range ofstarters and main courses at lunchtime and in the evening. The most expensive dish available is beef teryaki at £10.95. but most main courses are around £7. More unusual suggestions include maison (‘assou/el and smoked goose and quail's egg salad.
The menu has its amusing touches — (iold Blend and Tetleys are in there with the lispresso and Lapsang — and the wine list comes wrapped
Since he took over the kitchen quite recently, Chet Gordon Gellatly has shaken up the menu at Cathedral House restaurant and cale bar. This recipe exemplifies his incorporation ol loreign ideas and ingredients into a basis at more traditional haute cuisine. The blini is a homely potato pancake lrom Poland, but with Gellatly‘s clever garnish it becomes very special.
POTATO AND AVOCADO BLINI WITH CREME FRAICHE AND SPRING ONIONS Serves lour
ﬁg dried yeast
50ml sour cream or creme lraiche
1 egg white
1 small potato diced very linely and blanched
Combine yeast, milk, salt, llourand sour cream. Leave in a warm place lor
an hourto prove. (Room temperature is ,
usually warm enough, and you can leave the mixture all day it you want to. Use the same day though, because overnight relrigeration will kill the yeast.) Beat the egg while until it forms peaks but is not dry. Fold into the blini mixture. Prove again lor hall an hour. Add the diced potato. Heat a little oil in a lrying pan until hot, then pour in enough mixtre to cover the pan generously-the blini will pull up on
wine: ('ut'ée .S‘humboliqm’. The
around a bottle. In fact the only reminder ofearlier times is the house
waitresses must have great fun allocating salt and pepper sets. These individual figures were found in Seattle and are brought to the table as a point of service: cows in wedding gear for table number three; sorry Sir. table number four gets the frog and princess. . . The management is eager to point out that it has a sense ofhumour— unlike , someofthe pretentious style-barsof the 80s. The name Maison llector itselfis tongue in check: it evokes ‘ French cooking. a certain . sophistication maybe. but we all I remember that dog don‘t we'.’ The l loos are spectacularly kitsch — the gents urinal is a complete mirrored ‘ wall with a continuous waterfall washing over it (except when the waterboard tells them to turn it off). the ladies get log cabins — Twin Peaks eat your heart out.
The best indication of Ian (irier‘s judgement is the buzz you get when first walking in to Maison llector— at a time when so many places are looking tired and down-at-heel. it really is invigorating to go somewhere a bit glamorous. exciting. up-beat. breathing confidence. The question. is will we still like purple in six months time‘.’ Maison Hector. 47 [)eunlmug/i Slrr'el. Edinburgh. ()3! 332 53.38.
the heat—cook lor a couple at minutes. Transterto an ovenprool dish or baking sheet, the same way up. Cook the other three blinis in the same way in the lrying pan. When they are all done and placed on trays, put in a hot oven (425F, 215C Mark 7) lor 2 MS minutes to linish.
pink salmon eggs
spring onions, linely sliced lemonjuice
Flip the hotblinis overonto individual warmed plates; tan a sliced hall avocado onto each; add a dollop ol creme lraiche, a teaspoon lull ol salmon eggs and a sprinkling ol spring onions and lemon juice, and serve immediately.
Cathedral House, 28/32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow. 041 552 3519.