The Restaurant Bar & Grill - review
Glasgow’s latest stylish, expensive dining ‘experience’ offers fresh but unadventurous food
The name betrays either supreme confidence or a dearth of imagination. But, while The Restaurant Bar and Grill may not sound as exciting as its predecessors – Zinc and étain have been merged into one – there is a sense of self-assurance running throughout this newly styled corner of Glasgow’s most exclusive shopping centre. This stems in part from a safe knowledge that it will be packed at weekends, but also a reliance on brand values.
Part of a burgeoning UK-wide chain, The Restaurant is hailed as a ‘rejuvenation’ of Zinc, which fell into the Individual Restaurant Company’s lap last year. The firm has now chosen to stamp its own style throughout its branches, striving for a consistent ‘experience’ in every outlet from Glasgow to Tunbridge Wells.
While this may set corporate alarm bells ringing, rest assured that The Restaurant is a far cry from a McBrasserie. The service, for a start, is faultless: smart, clued-up and friendly in a way that only experience, and not a training regime, can bring. The interior is distinctly classy and features quirky touches such as wall-mounted boxes filled with fruit and vegetables. From the ‘outside’ balcony, a front room with a waved, blonde-wood ceiling and impeccably stocked bar leads to a lower-lit, airy space (formerly étain), featuring mirrored pillars and floor-length windows. A gallery kitchen spans the length of one wall, contributing a good amount of atmosphere.
The food, however, is fairly regimented, as one might expect from a menu sent from headquarters. Beyond some fortnightly specials, there are few interesting choices from what is a large selection of gastro-pub classics (fishcakes, pasta, Thai curry). This is a shame, considering more adventurous dishes are generally well executed. A salad of sweet figs, creamy goat’s cheese and smoky pancetta, for example, affords a fabulous array of flavours. From a decent selection of fish, a hefty wedge of halibut comes expertly cooked but with a bland crab crust, while the addition of out-of-season asparagus shows up the flaws of the rigid menu. A side of mash, meanwhile, reveals a heavy hand with the salt shaker. Portions are perfectly judged until the desserts arrive: a colossal tower of sweet-yet-sharp passion fruit sorbet, and no less than four rich marbled brownies (two would suffice).
A policy of fresh ingredients prepared to order always deserves praise, but overall there’s a tendency towards safe simplicity here. And, while price may not be an issue for many Princes Square patrons, £13.95 for fish and chips seems a little excessive. The Restaurant will undoubtedly flourish in these areas where style is judged over substance: ultimately it displays both confidence and a lack of originality, and does exactly what it says above the door.