The new regime at the Giffnock Ivy promises a taste of Paris on the Southside of Glasgow. Emily Henderson is transported, but how far?
For the price of a £5 train ticket, Glaswegians can enjoy a dining experience to rival those found in the stylish restaurants of Paris. Well, according to the new management of the Giffnock Ivy, that is, which aims to ‘bring the tastes, smells and sounds of France’ to this leafy suburb.
Head to the Giffnock Ivy on a Saturday night and there’s an interesting mixture of smartly dressed couples, families and restaurant regulars. In other words, just the kind of clientele an upwardly aspiring neighbourhood restaurant would hope to connect with. On Sundays, diners can enjoy a traditional roast dinner, another thoughtful touch primarily for the benefit of regulars.
The walls, a mix of exposed stone and warm shades of cream and brown, complement the rich crimson of the chairs. Red ribbons are tied prettily around crisp white napkins. Such touches score highly for effort, but the burning question is: if this restaurant was in the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh (never mind Paris), would it be particularly special?
Owner Peter Purewal, along with chefs Stuart Howie and Derek Blair (who between them boast a list of credits including Rogano, the Buttery, Nairns and the Turnberry Hotel), have clearly put a great deal of thought into re-vamping the menu which puts great emphasis on using super-fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers.
For the most part, this attitude is backed-up by the cooking. That classic starter (also available as a main), a warm salad of Scottish scallops with grilled Stornoway black pudding, is beautifully presented, though the texture of the scallops is on the rubbery side. Mains include roast loin of pork on a leek and prune compote served with wonderfully light Arran mustard gnocchi, or an 8oz prime fillet of Scottish beef priced at £23.95. The one vegetarian option is a rich, but not too heavy and clearly non-greasy, herb risotto with truffle oil and fresh parmesan.
The dessert menu is fairly conventional for this style of venue, with classic crème brûlée, strawberry shortcake or a selection of Scottish cheeses with oatcakes and chutney.
The attentiveness of the serving staff is impressive, but walks a fine line between the eager desire to please and irritating table-side hovering, and this is ultimately where the restaurant lets itself down.
The Giffnock Ivy is never going to feel like a Parisian bistro, but if the diners were allowed to relax and enjoy the largely impressive menu perhaps France wouldn’t seem so far away after all.
219 Fenwick Road, Giffnock, Glasgow 0141 620 1003, www.giffnockivy.co.uk
Smart Scottish/French restaurant in Glasgow’s Southside suburbs
Set price two-course lunch £9.95; average two-course evening meal £18