_ Two of
Glasgow is often credited with pioneering the cafe- bar idea in Britain. If so,
Ron McCulloch can take the credit and he’s still at it. Catherine Fellows
hears about his latest projects.
You wouldn‘t have thought a classy West End restaurant with a dinky name like the Puppet Theatre would have had much in common with ultra-cool Glasgow club The Tunnel. Not, that is, until you stride into the courtyard of said restaurant and Come nose to nose with an extraordinary Gaudiesque glass structure masquerading as a conservatory — and catch the unmistakable air of Ron McCulloch.
McCulloch has left his mark in the form of bar, restaurant and discotheque interiors all over Glasgow and is currently best known for the Tunnel. But in the next couple of weeks, he is due to make his biggest splash on the life of the city yet. Apan from the Puppet Theatre, which, he says. is unique in offering a combination of ‘a fun, laid-back atmosphere and serious cuisine’, McCulloch is also on the point of opening Maxaluna, a huge bar, cafe. lounge and restaurant complex in the middle of Sauchiehall Street.
At a time when others are feeling the pinch. you might wonder at the wisdom .of investing in two lavish makeovers in
.. so short a space of time. As well as the
conservatory, he has commissioned a Renaissance-style mural and an altar- piece complete with statuary and candelabra — and that’s just for the .Puppet Theatre. Maxaluna promises to be even more stunning, with 35 metres of glass frontage containing contributions from well known local artists including a sculptural cafeteria
servery by wood man Tim Stead and a l4ft-high bronze satyr after Cellini. The gantry behind the bar is so high that staff will have to clamber up library ladders to reach the top bottles.
‘1 think Glasgow is ready for this,’ says McCulloch. ‘l‘m just going on gut feelings about what people are wanting now — and twenty years experience i suppose. Our business dropped dramatically when the licensing board imposed the curfew, and made everyone think going out in Glasgow meant meeting a nutcase with a knife; but things are picking up. If anything, the recession has made people more discerning. They want interesting interiors with lots of style and high quality food, which is what we‘re offering.‘
McCulloch has the impressive credentials of chef Douglas Painter to back his claim. Painter, recently sous- chef at the Hilton under Perrier Richardson, and before that in charge of the Buttery, will be working at the Puppet Theatre to produce a varied menu of light, but intensely ﬂavoured dishes. The emphasis is on Scottish ingredients given a sophisticated, international twist, and a more ‘rustic’ style of presentation than is usual
among restaurants of this calibre.
LUNCH - 12—2.30pm EVENINGS — 6—11pm (last orders 10.30pm)
10, anchor close, Cockburn Street
50, out fountelnbrldge EDINBURGH 228
The Maxaluna menu has more of a fast food feel to it: ‘Chino, Latino, Americano’ — Szechwan beef in boxes, fettucini in coloured glass bowls, and burgers on wooden platters - but it will all be freshly prepared on the premises by Stephen Murphy, formerly of McCulloch‘s Cul de Sac restaurant.
‘He’s being trained by a Chinese chef even as we speak,‘ explains
FLAVOllil or rue FORTNIGHT
This rather sumptuous recipe comes from Douglas Painter, head chef at the new Puppet Theatre restaurant. It is featured on the Spring menu
(serves 6 to 8)
500gI1 lb 2oz plain flour 175gISoz icing sugar 250g/3‘Aoz unsalted butter, diced grated zest of half a lemon grains from 1 vanilla pod 1% eggs, beaten
some: icing sugar
flour for dusting
butter for greasing
For lemon filling:
song/14oz caster sugar
5 lemons (zest of 2, [nice of 5) 250ml/8fl oz double cream
Preheat oven - gas mark meme/35m Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl, and work in the butter. Make a well in the centre and add lemon zest, vanilla grains and beaten eggs (1%). Gradually draw in the flour and sugar mixture to make a paste. Knead lightly, wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest for 45 minutes in the fridge. line flan case (1 Din), trim edges and bake blind for ten minutes,
McCulloch. ‘Maxaluna is so exciting. it’s going to be open from 8am till late (4am on Saturdays) and being right on Sauchiehall Street 1 hope it‘s going to suck up everyone from students to shoppers to businessmen to trendies . . . As for Puppet Theatre can i just reassure lovers of good food and potential customers? l‘m not going to have M People blasting out of the
The Puppet Theatre, I] Ruthven Lane (oﬁ‘Byres Road). 041 339 8444. opens on I 7 Mar; Maxaluna. 410 Sauchiehall Street, 04] 332 1002, opens on 24 Mar.
the flan kept in place by a sheet of greaseproof paper and baking beans. llemove paper and beans and bake for a further ten minutes.
To make the filling, whisk eggs with sugar. Stir in lemon nest and juice, then fold in cream. Remove any froth from the top of the mixture. lleduce oven temperature to gas mark ll120°0l250°F. Pour cold filling into hot flan case ensuring pastry seals and holds filling. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly set. Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla ice crean.
EDINBURGH 226 5145 i
I chicago Meatpackers 50 Hope Street. 248 4466. Sunday is funday at the Chicago Meatpackers: as of this month, 12.30- Spm. kids aged between three and eight can enjoy a special menu of barbecue ribs or cheeseburger with fries. ice cream and unlimited Coca-Cola for £5 and, for free, participate in a range of activities designed to entertain them.
I Overtures Playhouse Theatre, Greenside Place. 557 8339. After a thorough run-in serving pre-show dinner to Les Miserables audiences. this recently-opened restaurant is keen to attract non- theatre-goers with time to linger over their coffee.
The upstairs space at the Playhouse. previously Madisons nightclub. has been converted into an opulent new restaurant. And opulent is certainly the word — the place is crimson. swathed in drapery and the wallpaper cost £80 a roll - and the food is appropriately sumptuous. The Savoy- trained chef has designed
a distinctly Scottish menu.
with dishes including the sinister-sounding Salmis des Gibiers Macbeth — a rich casserole of local game in burgundy sauce - and Saumon McGregor - Scottish salmon with smoked haddock mousseline. At £14.50 for three courses. the table d‘hote is excellent value. and if you visit between show runs. or when the curtain has just gone up. you’ll have no trouble Securing a table.
I llealth risk Edinburgh‘s
Officers are getting hot under the collar at what they perceive to be inadequate punishments meted out to restaurants and food businesses in breach of the 1990 Food Safety Act. Councillor lan Perry stated recently that ‘diligent work’ by his department led to 'a number of potentially serious health risks in the city‘ being uncovered. Several of the food outlets have been successfully prosecuted. but Perry claims the level of ﬁnes imposed do not reflect the seriousness of the offences. ‘lt‘s disappointing that penalties don‘t appear to be ﬁtting the crime.’ Apparently these crimes included selling a loaf of bread with a fag end in it and a meat pie containing a metal bolt. Surely being made to eat the offending foodstuff is the only appropriate punishment?
82 The List 1 l-24 March 1994