British bulldog

Donald Reid goes to The Dogs, David Ramsden's new venture, and discovers a menu with a distinctly homespun flavour

here‘s a little place I know e great spot

tor a bite to eat. glass of wine. right in

the centre ol‘ town. up a staircase. not the most obvious. A little place I know . . . and so does the rest of lidinburgh. despite the l‘acl that the launch party was held only last week.

Anywhere billed as ‘David Ramsden‘s new venture~ was always going to be the talk of the town. The tall. bald. looming. deep-voiced restaurateur is regarded. variously. as a visionary or a freak. someone you'd cross town to dine with or make an exaggerated body swerve to avoid. His previous enterprises. (lit/)llenry and Rogue. attracted admiration and accolades. but. in the end. insul'licient income to keep the hank and Ramsden happy. Both restaurants were innovative. idiosyncratic and ambitious. but neither were in the centre of town.

Back in December last year Mexican restaurant the Tijuana Yacht (‘Iub closed with the sudden. sad death ol~ owner Yatts Bor/ecki: a venue in the centre of town was available.

(‘ompared lo the previous ventures. the Dogs is a simple al'l‘air: dressed down. smallish (jtist 30 covers in the larger of two rooms). and. apart from the blown—up portrait ol‘ a dog's snout behind the bar. l’airly tree of ostentatious style statements. It's not strictly a bar. though it has elements of a wine bar with undressed old tables and chairs. a good wine list (ol' which more below) and little dining formality. Ramsden isn‘t a man who likes to be categorised. so he insists the Dogs isjust ‘a place‘.

The menu doesn't have a thing on it that you could describe as foreign. No token hylediterranean standards (such as pasta). no lirench names. no South-liast Asian twists. The most exotic flavour. served with a nicely moist ham hock terrine. is piccalilli. a spicy pickle invented by the British. Dominated by ol'l‘al. cheap cuts. unusual lish and root veg it‘s a menu with attitude and individuality. An unsieved tomato soup. trying to make a virtue from being rough and unrelined. is cooked with wild garlic

gathered by the proprietor himself). while the

‘risotlo‘ uses pearl barley and the chips (hall'


tallies. in fact) are crispy and dark brown l'rom beel' dripping. Flavours are generally robust a deeply savoury dish of meaty ox cheeks with pickled walnuts and a horseradish mash isn't demure in the slightest and overall there does seem to be a lot of heavy lootl. even for the end

of winter. ()vercooked inussels are a sign of

either a stretched kitchen or a lack of real finesse. but ultimately you‘re going to come here for food with gumption rather than garnishes. Worth noting are two Ramsden trademarks that are often drowned out in the din of opinion over the man himself. Prices are incredibly

me Does

110 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, 0131 220

1208.; Small bistro/wine bar serving proper British flavours.

Average two-course evening meal £13

reasonable. particularly for such interesting. l'reshly cooked food. and the wine list is uniquely conceived. The house wine is L'llHl) (with 500ml caral'es available for less) and there are over St) bottles available at less than £20. most in the {ll-Uh range. This is a list with genuine choice and lots to discover at realistic prices.

It you haven't already gone to the Dogs. you might want to count it as a wee place you know. It‘s right in the centre ol‘ town. alter all.


The Butterfly and the Pig

153 Bath Street, Glasgow

0141 221 7711, The name is a whimSical send up of traditional pub names and matches the gentle. eccentric nature of the place. Decorated like the Mad Hatter‘s front room. with chintz sofas. domes and Welsh dressers bursting with teapots and iam iars. the restaurant offers daily changing menus of Simple. seasonal food.

14 THE LIST 10—24 Apr 2008

Duck's at le Marche Hair

14 Eyre Place, New Town, Edinburgh

0131 558 1608,

Malcolm Duck has been a fixture On the Edinburgh dining scene for nearly two decades. With his New Town restaurant lOng known for excellent wines and its playful model ducks. New chef Rob Mitchell helped the restaurant seCure a Michelin Bib GOurrnand this year for his €28 three-COurse evening menu.

Where the Monkey Sleeps

182 West Regent Street, Glasgow

0141 226 3406,

Probably Glasgow‘s zaniest sandwich bar. f/llli an epic menu full of amusing monikers celebrating regular Customers Or management's love of bands. The ‘rriari frOm Iran' has Tabasco and cayenne pepper warming up a combination of Cbzcren. Char-grilled pepper and smoked cheddar, Good coffee and leCeS too.