Changing places

  • The List
  • 2 October 2008
Tattie Mac's

Restaurant review: Tattie Mac's

As a restaurant, what do you do if a particular location has a bit of previous? Don’t look back, as Donald Reid found out in Glasgow’s West End

When a restaurant location starts to see a few different tenants in a short span of time it gets a bit of a reputation. ‘Bad site,’ many will mutter. Not necessarily true, however. Of course some locations are harder work, but also in play are things such as bad luck, bad judgements, or just bad restaurants. Sometimes restaurants close for reasons that aren’t purely commercial – retirement, partnerships splitting, lease problems – but in general the number of restaurant locations in Glasgow and Edinburgh is still expanding (albeit slower in these times) and most established sites do work, eventually.

Tattie Mac’s arrived a month or so back on one such site. If you haven’t been before it’s a slightly unlikely spot half-way along Otago Street off Gibson Street, pretty much on its own among some newer flats and older tenements. For a good few years it was Otago, then it became the Cheese Bar and Deli as part of the Baby Grand Group. A year later it was Pizzaz, an Italian, and a year on it’s under the independent ownership of chef Iain McMaster as Tattie Mac’s.
This history isn’t meant to condemn the site or the recent arrival. In fact it has always been a very pleasant venue: intimate, unpretentious, mellow. McMaster and his team have enhanced this further with chunky wooden slab table tops, contemporary chairs and an imposing Timorous Beastie wallpaper-scape along one wall.

On offer is a robust bistro menu with a decent choice of hearty, well-cooked dishes. Mostly it’s food with a French-Mediteranean influence: there are classics such as chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche and chutney, or steak and chips ‘Paris bistro style’, studded with a bit of Scottish in black pudding, organic salmon or venison sausage.

Chestnut mushroom rarebit on garlic toast proves the worth of simple strong basics such as good bread (baked on site every morning) and well-flavoured ingredients (the fungi). A seafood fettucini in a garlicy tomato sauce is generously large if ultimately a little less thrilling than a gathering of mussels, prawns, calamari and squat lobster could be. Similarly, the second-highest priced item on the menu, pan-seared seabass, is crisply cooked and served with punchy gremolata (garlic, parsley and lemon zest), mash and a mix of peppers, asparagus and spinach, but while pleasant enough it doesn’t really threaten to remain long in the memory.

Large stone-baked pizzas offer an alternative (and cheaper) main, and there’s some good food kicking around at the deli counter where takeaway meals and salads, fresh sandwiches and a few tasty treats are all available. That type of food might be to go, but a place this easy going and well versed in sure-footed food should be here to stay.

Tattie Mac's
61 Otago Street, Glasgow
0141 337 2282,
Average price for two courses: £16
Two-course lunch & early evening: £8.50

Take three: Taming a troublesome pitch

Olive Branch
91 Broughton Street, Edinburgh
0131 557 8589,
Not so long ago Broughton Street had some good pubs and food shops but little in the way of decent restaurants. Then the Olive Branch took root on this previously unconvincing corner site, and has gone on to colonise two other venues across the city.

The Lot
4 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
0131 225 9924,
An old church that became a sports bar and after that a whisky bar/fish restaurant with its own water feature. Then the Lot came along with a reliable, down-to-earth café-bistro and made good use of the upstairs hall as a live music venue. Nothing flashy, nothing themed, nothing new, but a good formula.

The Wee Curry Shop
41 Byres Road, Glasgow
0141 339 1339,
Once it was Fusion – Scotland’s first sushi bar – then the Dining Room, then Monster Mash, then Mrs Majhu’s. In the ever-changing landscape of Byres Road it was ever changing. Now it has been embraced by Monir Mohammed as the city’s third Wee Curry Shop. That’ll do, won’t it?

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