The wave of Asian-inspired venues continues to wash over the Central Belt with the Friday 16 February opening of Bam Bou in Edinburgh. A pre-club bar and restaurant on the site of the former Arches Bistro at South Bridge and Drummond Street, Bam Bou is the latest venture from the Albatross Leisure Group, responsible for Q Bar and Rush in the capital. The self-described Oriental style bar comes fairly close on the heels of Bar Soba in Glasgow's Lighthouse, which also has combined Asian cuisine with hip ambience and even some sake cocktails.

‘Too many bars in Edinburgh,’ according to Albatross managing director Rob Orr, ‘are all style and no substance, offering their clientele nothing in the way of originality.’ The in-house design of Barn Bou does incorporate some intriguing elements, such as one booth lined with blocks of four by four timbers. Downstairs, the glass-topped bar is harled in pebble-dash while oak and tile flooring is mirrored by a line of timber framed back-illuminated glass along one wall. Or take the suspended ceiling at the ground level bar. It's constructed of hefty 1% in bamboo poles; not some measly canes obtained from a garden centre.

Bl-COASTAL Mussel Inn

Asian cuisine with hip ambience

As for cuisine, Bam Bou specialises in a selection of sushi (available daily 11am-1am) but does not carry the Eastern orientation of the kitchen much further, aside from dim sum. A buffet of Western and European dishes for £4.99 is served Monday—Friday, noon-3pm, while the all-you-can- eat theme at the same price is continued with a Sunday breakfast from noon-3pm. From the bar, Cocktails such as Sex On The Beach, Long Island Ice Tea or the Shogun (Chambord, Bacardi, pineapple and cranberry juice) are available by the glass (£3) or jug (four-pint, £14). A range of shooters can be slammed as well as some potent Japanese rice wines, such as Momokawa Pearl (18% ABV!) or raspberry-flavoured sake. Happy hour (Monday-Thursday 4—7pm/Friday 4-9pm) offers half-price on most drinks, except the cocktails and shooters.

Lest you think Bam Bou is the last splash of the Tsunami, the tide from the Orient as interpreted by British entrepreneurs, at least - is expected to rise later this year with reports that a Yo!Sushi branch is coming to Rose Street, Terence Coran plans a sushi restaurant in Leith and Glasgow-based Stephen Ellis, behind both Fusion and Oko, has vowed to expand his franchise as well.

(Barry Shelby) IB 8am Bou, 66—67 South Bridge, Edinburgh, 0737 556 0200.

length of the restaurant and up into the mezzanine level. But as the bosses insist, Mussel Inn’s

East coast seafood in Glasgow

After a year of talks, Mussel Inn the catering venture of two West Coast shell-fish farmers has finally arrived in Glasgow. Followmg on from their success in Edinburgh, the duo of Walter Speirs of Argyll and Anthony Walford of Skye bring their fresh and ham approach towards seafood to Hope Street. Here, in a restaurant of some 90 covers (about tWice the size of the Rose Street flagship), they have transferred head chef Matt Johansson (already a Glasgow reSident) and Installed Jim Baird (formerly of YeS) as local manager,

In redesigning the former Tun Ton premises, the bar has been shortened c0nSiderably and the place made generally brighter, more open Timber table tops and chairs have replaced the oh-so mod monochromatic bucket seats. The most prominent new design feature is Rachel George’s mural of various hues of blue With a variety of stencilled aquatic life that runs the

emphasis of is on the substance of the food over the style of the restaurant. The menu in Glasgow Will be identical to Edinburgh's for example, warm Queen scallop salad (£3.95), a dozen chilled oysters (£11.95), or one of their infamous kilo pots of mussels (£8.95) Specials Will differ depending what fish can be sourced on any given day. ’That allows a bit of creatiVity for the chefs,’ says Speirs, adding that he hopes that crab might make regular appearances on the chalk board selections, perhaps as crab cakes in the afternoon and dressed or served in a salad in the evenings.

’The first Mussel Inn was a provmg ground,’ Speirs says 'This one is a milestone' If all goes to plan, he adds, then Mussel Inn might well next muscle its way across the border into an English city such as Manchester or Leeds (Barry Shelby)

I Mussel Inn, 757 Hope Street, Glasgow, 0747 S72 7405



Side dishes

Blossoming on Bath Street . . .

GLASGOW'S BATH STREET continues to sprout new eating and drinking venues. Once the boulevard for doctors' residences and houses of worship (and named for public baths established by textile magnate William Harley in early 19th century), this busy bus route now seems a favourite for new licenses. The most recent additions are Bloc, a style and pre-club bar with an Eastern European bent, at 117 and Elliott's bar and restaurant to the West at 203-205. These basement spaces follow last autumn's opening of Moskito and foreshadow the upcoming operation of chef John Quigley and his eponymous restaurant as well as an expanded Mojo.

BLOC, THOUGH OPEN since 18 January, had something of a lll()l(‘ formal launch on 8 February when it unveiled c‘oniinisSioned art woil. by Glasgow-born artist Ian Hughes Exhibited permanently around the world and held in the private collections of celebs such as Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof and Sir Sean Connery, Hughes' hanging at Bloc is something of a cocip for owners Justine Cameron and John Burns Bloc serves food (from burgers at f5 9‘; to vegetarian moussaka for £5.75) daily noon-7pm. And, given Burns and Cameron's club promotion and management backgrounds as well as a bespoke DJ booth, rnusic Will not be an afterthought at Bloc.

ELLIOTT'S LOOKS like a European brasserie and feels as if aimed at slightly more grown-up and well- healed clientele. The brainchild of one-time session musician Douglas

Atkinson, Elliott's has a separate bar

and dining room decked out in a predominantly black and red colour scheme. Bar, pre- and post-theatre selections complement the full al carte menu with its choices of pastas and risotto (priced as a starter and a main) plus mains such as medallions of veal chanterelle (£12.50) and roasted cod fillet (£11.50).

IN EDINBURGH, Causewayside is the perhaps unlikely spot of developriient The space above the Old Bell pubis now home to the New Bell Inn (233 Causewayside), which specialises in Scottish fare on a reasonably priced menu which changes nightly Recent selections included pan-fired duck breast and seared sea bass Closer to the Meadows, amid the more familiar shops such as Affordable Antiques and Fantoosh Flooers, is a new Italian restaurant Sambuca, while the bUilding Site across the way is to become a new bOutique, hotel and restaurant whose interiors have been designed by Ben Kelly of Hacienda fame.

IS Feb—l Mar 2001 THE LIST 123