From acorns come mighty oaks, so it is best not to scoff at the whimsy behind the name of this new bar/bistro in Glasgow's West End. While the venue was still in the planning stages the Randev brothers knew they were after an Eastern European feel, and a trip to Prague was deemed necessary. Given that it was mid-winter, however, their travel agent advised them not to go. Indeed, as the tourist literature said, the lowest recorded temperature once hit -54°F. Trip postponed but inspiration found.

54 Below is the Randevs's latest venture after Bar Bola on Park Road off Gibson Street. The location here at the corner of Kelvingrove and Argyle Streets is equally off the beaten path of most trend-seeking night crawlers. With The Grove across the way and Ben Nevis around the corner, they have again ventured onto the patch of traditional pubs. But just as Bola has carved a niche, so might 54 Below. ’We want something that fits into the West End,’ says Rahul Randev. 'It is not a style bar. We didn't want it to look tired in two years time.’

The design is modern, with a dining room elevated a bit and the bar/lounge slightly sunk. Back-lighting from banquettes cast alchemist hues onto the beige exposed sand-stone walls, which have been decorated with vertical slats of blonde wood. Stuck with an unsightly structural beam, they transformed it into a design feature instead, thanks to metal plating tinted with tea and then varnished. In the non-smoking snug tucked behind the bar, the stained walnut of the tables is also


Bringing Eastern European style to Glasgow

incorporated as panelling on the walls. Although a smoke-free environment is the antithesis of Eastern Europe, Rahul predicts such spaces will eventually become the rule rather than the exception in Scotland. The all-day menu leans towards the comfort foods found in the Czech Republic, Poland or Russia. Siberian pork schnitzel comes with mustard mash and red cabbage (£7.50) while the small dishes include galabki- cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced chicken or vegetables (£3.75). The beer menu lists 22 bottled varieties (£2.20-£3.70), while pints of Staropramen are £1.80 at happy hour from 5—7pm, Mon—Fri. (Barry Shelby) I 54 Below, 3 Kelvingrove Street, Glasgow, 0747 357 5454.

repeat the Ingram Street quality: from the staff and serVice through to the food itself, seven days a week from 7am—11pm.

The CUiSine is overseen by executive chef and partner Donald Munro, who was preViously at Skibo Castle near Inverness. He brings With him the knowledge and experience of fine dining but Without what Johnson describes as 'the pretentiousness’. This comes across in the new menu With dishes Such as smoked haddock and

Keeping it Si"IP'e sweetcorn spring rolls and Cider soaked


'Keep it smole and nothing tOO fancy' is the name of the garr‘c: according to Craig Johnson, osxner of Glasgow's LOOp restaurants This philosophy may stem from his banking background but it is also Tl‘t? ethos behind his ideal restaurant, SOLVCUHIYC] he .s trying to turn into reality

His first Loop in the Merchant City is 'taking care of itself' after less than a year in busmess and so Johnson's attention has now turned to the new Loop in Bath Street, on the ground floor of the Bewley's Hotel. He has deCided to carry on as he started with a continuation of the original Loop purple and blue colour scheme, decor and deSign, which Johnson himself created. He is also determined to

M I - 'JcVJ-I

L .4“, , \.. '1'ub ’CJV f'noJ

chicken in Whole-grain mustard sauce. Prices are affordable With starters coming in around £4—£5 and main courses varying from £8—£10. Not the cheapest on the street perhaps but, as Johnson pOints out: ’If the serVice is good, the food is good and the price is good, people will come back.’

(Jane Hamilton)

I Loop, 7 70 Bath Street, Glasgow, 0747 354 7705.

k Delivered to you by 6 a.

Side dishes

Food news: cafes to haute cuisine

THE TRANSFORMATION OF the formerly vegetarian Café Alba in Glasgow is complete with a re- branding under the new name Otago. Although non-meat dishes still dominate the lunch menu, the dinner fare is decidedly more carnivorous-minded. The Hillhead cafe at 61 Otago Street is also fully licensed, catering particularly to the wine connoisseur with more than 50 bottles. They are all specially sourced from wine dealers down south and are generally unavailable at off- licence shops in Glasgow. Otago is open Tue-Fri 10am-10pm; Mon, Sat 8: Sun noon—10pm.

NEW MENUS HAVE been launched at two of our classier jomts, Malmaison Brasserie in Leith and Glasgow as well as the Balmoral’s Number One in Princes Street, Edinburgh. In the case of Malmaison, some signature dishes such as eggs Benedict, salmon fishcake and steak garni remain, but among the new entries are a grilled goats cheese and aubergine gallette (£4.95), duck fOie gras parfait (£6.95), roast spring lamb With DIJOFI crust (£10.95) and grilled cod With parsley potatoes (£1 1.95). In general, prices have dropped as well, With most starters now under £5 and mains averaging around £12.

AT NUMBER ONE, an a la carte menu has been added to the

always changing fresh market menu and speciality selections.

' The idea is to always have certain

dishes available: eg half dozen oysters (£10.75), chicken consommé (£9.75), poached or grilled lobster (£35), and roast duckling (£19.50). Needless to say, there have been no price adjustments at Number One.

FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS of Glasgow on a Plate, Edinburgh on a Plate is now being published. It reportedly does not include Martin Wishart in its line-up of local top chefs. His Leith restaurant recently received another rave, this time in Scotland on Sunday Where Charlie Fletcher wrote: 'This restaurant has a world-class chef at its heart.’ Never mind: Glasgow on a Plate doesn't have Rupert and Aisla Staniforth of No. 16 either.

GOT NEWS, GOSSIP or simply views on the food and drink scene in Scotland? E-mail Side dishes at

54 THE llST ‘3 177;." ZCC-O