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VALENTINE’S DAY Romantic dining

Romance like chivalry may be nearly dead, but for those who still believe, it is not too late to book an intimate dinner in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 14 February. We offer a few ideas below but please phone the restaurants for full details; as this goes to press, a few places are still putting the final touches to their plans.

In Glasgow, the obvious option for a romantic blow out is at the Michelin-starred restaurant at One Devonshire Gardens (1 Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow, 0141 339 2001). Alas, the last available booking was taken on 22 January, although they have considered freeing some additional space for diners.

Two other West End restaurants promise different experiences. The Puppet Theatre (11 Ruthven Lane, Glasgow, 0141 339 8444) is a natural stage for romantic dining, catering for trysting couples throughout the year either in the conservatory dining room or amid the nooks elsewhere in the restaurant. At Stravaigin (28 Gibson Street, Glasgow, 0141 334 2665) a 14 February tradition with a bit more tongue in cheek has been established. This year is no different, with a Viagra Valentine's set-price menu with a ’love nest of horseradish baby potatoes' and a 'silicon-free breast of bra-bery duck' amid the selections.

Ferrier Richardson's flagship, Eurasia (150 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, 0141 204 1150) also has a special prix- fixe menu that includes a 'selection of five Asian aphrodisiacs and accompaniments'. Across town, at Philip Raskin's more traditional The Inn On The Green (23 Greenhead Street, Glasgow, 0141 554 0165), added value comes from a singer and pianist (who do requests/dedications) and the option of booking one of the inn's eighteen overnight rooms.

With a Michelin star in hand (see article below), Restaurant Martin Wishart (S4 The Shore, Leith, 0131 553 3557) recently received confirmation of its shimmering status in the foodie's firmament. Not a large

s. A One Devonshire Gardens is a popular Valentine's haunt

restaurant by any standards, space at Wishart’s contemporary designed place is going to be a hot ticket and bookings were coming in fast and furious by the third week of January. lust up the way and round the corner, David Ramsden's fitz(Henry) (19 Shore Place, Leith, 0131 555 6625) continues to get high marks for atmosphere and cuisine. Like Martin Wishart, fitz(I-Ienry) doesn’t plan any specially priced menu.

The Tower (Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 0131 225 3003) is a natural choice, as is its business stable mate, the Witchery By The Castle (Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 0131 225 5613). What you want at the Tower is a table with a view. Some twelve fit the bill, but only half of them have the prestigious vistas of the castle. For many at the multi-award winning Witchery, the premium seats are in the Secret Garden, its sumptuous conservatory-like dining area. A slightly off-centre choice in the capital for a traditional French, candle-lit setting, Le Cafe St Honore (34 NW Thistle Lane, Edinburgh, 0131 226 2211) provides the proper atmosphere with jazz usually playing softly in the background. (Barry Shelby)

MICHELIN RANKING Stars in our eyes

Gordon Ramsay looks north

124 TIIEIJST ‘l—lS Feb 2001

The biggest food news of the last fortnight was the awarding of much- coveted Michelin stars in the UK. Locally, the biggest beneficiary was Martin Wishart who, as we expected, saw his Leith restaurant pull its first star. Wishart is the only one in the Scots capital with the astral accolade and now the aim is for another. ’I enjoy my iob,’ he says. ’The star is pleasing for me but it’s not the be all and end all. I am very happy for the staff that work with me.’

Just past 30 himself, Wishart is already beginning to mentor younger cooks, some of whom are venturing out successfully on their own. Is that a good feeling? ’lt’s as good as any recognition in any guide,’ he says. 'And it's good for Scotland.’

Meanwhile, down south Gordon Ramsay ascended to a three-star ranking for his eponymous restaurant in Chelsea, the award of which signalled a new round of speculation about his

return to Glasgow (where he spent part of his youth and briefly trained With Rangers). Now, eyes are on the space occupied by Yes in West Nile Street.

The city centre location comes as a slight surprise given that only a few months back Ramsay said he had secured a site in Glasgow's West End. However, he offered an odd oxymoron to a book-buying audience in Edinburgh last autumn when he said he had found an ideal West End location: Just off Buchanan Street.

Either Ramsay misspoke, has been


Side dishes

When an inspector calls. . .

WHILE MOST OF the attention with the release of the Michelin Red Guide is drawn by those who have earned stars, perhaps more relevant to the lives (and budgets) of most of us are the bib gourmand rankings. These denote 'good food and moderate prices', according to Michelin standards.

NO. SIXTEEN ON Byres Road in Glasgow, whose local reputation grows year on year, received its first bib this year. This is an admirable achievement

for Aisla and Rupert Staniforth, who

met at the Marsh Goose in the Cotswolds, where Rupert was once exeCutive chef The catering coople only opened their West End restaurant in December 1998. Bibs were retained in Edinburgh by the Atrium and ifrozen Chips apparently nOIWithstandingl Rhodes & Co The only other bib in Scotland is held by Creagan House in Strathyre. Alas, losing its bib in 2001 was fitleenryl.

OVERALL, SCOTLAND DOES not fare very well in the bib stakes compared to its devolved UK partners or the Irish Republic. Scotland pulled four, while Wales has eight, Northern Ireland boasts five and the Republic Of Ireland has fifteen. When it comes to stars, the picture is improved with Scotland's restaurants receiving nine, Wales and Northern Ireland having two apiece and the Republic Of Ireland featuring three. Locally, Glasgow’s One Devonshire Gardens retained its star, as did Braidwoods in Dalry, North Ayrshire. Restaurant Martin Wishart in Leith received its first, while La Potiniere in Gullane, East Lothian dropped its star.

BUT WHAT ARE the incognito and nearly mythical Michelin inspectors looking for when they award top

' accolades for food.7 According to the

guides current editor only identified as 'M' by The Guardian in a recent interView the prize goes to those who make complicated dishes appear basic. 'I think the most difficult thing in

cooking is to create a very elaborate

dish, but present it to make it look qune simple,’ M said. ’The great chefs refine and refine and refine, taking out

any unnecessary flavours.‘

away too long and forgotten the

geography of Glasgow, or intentionally calculated that contradiction to keep us guessing. Press reports now say that he will come north at the weekend to oversee his Scottish operation. But that flies in the face of his vow to spend

Saturday and Sunday at home with

family: his Chelsea restaurant is remarkably closed at the weekend. (Barry Shelby)