A tribute to Ronnie Clydesdale - the man behind Glasgow's Ubiquitous Chip restaurant
Here at List Towers we’re putting the finishing touches to our annual Eating & Drinking Guide - get it free with the next issue, out on Wednesday 28 April. On that day we’ll be announcing the winners of our Readers’ Choice award, and the Newcomers of the Year. We also traditionally give out a Special Award, so we were very sad to hear of the death of last year’s Special Award winner, Ronnie Clydesdale, on 3 April. Ronnie opened the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in 1971. He had no formal culinary qualification but he did want to cook Scotland’s great produce in the same way as the French or Italians proudly used their regional cuisine.
The Chip quickly become a cultural institution, a place that seemed to define Byres Road bohemianism. It was – and remains – a great place to eat and drink, not just because the food and drink is top notch. Alasdair Gray painted a mural in the restaurant in exchange for free meals and The Times once declared the restaurant to have ‘played a pivotal role in Scotland’s cultural renaissance’. It took the mainstream the best part of four decades to catch up with Clydesdale’s belief in Scottish food and culinary traditions, and even now many places still fall prey to the tweeness the Chip always avoided. Ronnie Clydesdale not only gave Scottish food a good name – he was quoting the provenance of his food before some restaurateurs were bothering to tell you the origin of their wine – but gave Scottish food respect. If Scotland really does rediscover its culinary mojo – and many believe we’re on our way – then Ronnie Clydesdale paved the path.