Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery - review

  • The List
  • 29 November 2007

A match made in Glasgow

A great Glasgow dining venue gets a new bidey-in, or two

When you see the word ‘at’ (or the symbol ‘@’) in a restaurant name there’s always a bit of a suspicion that it’s something of a forced marriage. Like a double A-side or joint top billing it’s a rather clunky effort to tempt the public into believing they’re getting two for the price of one. There are tacit acknowledgments of this in various aspects of Ryan James’ third Two Fat Ladies venture in Glasgow (‘the last, definitely the last,’ he says). Above the door the typography of the Two Fat Ladies is plump and bold while ‘at the Buttery’ is displayed in fine, swirling copperplate. We’re more used to fish restaurants with either minimalist tendencies or sunburnt Mediterranean simplicity, yet here the interior has something of the Highland lodge about it with its wonderful oak panelling and tartan armchairs. To the stained glass, cosy cushioned nooks and imposing marble and mahogany bar James and his team have added some excellent lighting, colourful art and elegant antique cutlery and crockery.

Almost inevitably the menu reflects this grand atmosphere with dishes that are rich and sumptuous rather than sprightly and zesty. There’s a silkiness to the Cullen skink, chopped spring onions valiantly perking up the seductive gathering of cream, soft onion and strong smoked haddock. A starter with five plump king prawns, rather characterless in themselves, leave austerity behind with copious amounts of garlic, butter and gooey pumpkin risotto. Never mind leaving room for dessert, it’s time to make arrangements to accommodate mains.

On this list whole lobster is available, along with monkfish, given the Highland touch with a worthwhile oatmeal and pepper crust, then yet more cream lacing the shredded savoy cabbage that accompanies it. Unlike the other Fat Ladies venues, which almost exclusively offer seafood, here there are steak, venison and chicken options. Part of the reason is that, for the first time, James has a venue for the grander occasion, a destination restaurant and a place to entertain clients. So perhaps there is a comfortable rather than ambitious feel to the dishes, but for that the white table cloths, smart service, decent wines and reasonable prices all help the place tick over pleasantly. Pre- and post-theatre dining options (two courses for £13.50) give King’s Theatre and SECC patrons a reliable option within striking distance.

Ryan James has revived a place of distinguished character and venerable history, and done so despite its location in a rather bleak-feeling quarter of Anderston that’s neither city centre nor West End. In the once-gloomy basement a much brighter, lighter Two Fats Café is set to appear in the next few weeks. The Two Fat Ladies residency at the Buttery looks assured. The weight loss target less so.

652 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8UF, 0141 221 8188
Open seven days for lunch and dinner.
Average price for two-course evening meal: £24

Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery

652 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8UF

Wood-panelled, plushly carpeted restaurant with nigh perfect service, relaxed vibe and sophisticated yet affordable menu.


1. jamesa033029 Apr 2008, 9:33am5 stars Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery - review Report

This revamped space, decor, ambience and above all food combine to offer Glasgow one of the best restaurants in town! You'll never be disappointed and staff (often with the owner attending to guests' needs in person) offer a warm uncomplicated and friendly welcome. Several times I have now known them to make dishes on the spot to meet very particular (and fussy!) dietary needs of fellow diners and I think that alone says it all about this superb restaurant - oh and for those that think it must be expensive.... try the pre-theatre menu - well priced and not short on value! Cheers!

2. Leanne198114 Mar 2009, 4:36pm1 star Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery - review Report

Hearing such promising reviews about the Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery I decided to try it for lunch today. I last ate at the Buttery in Nov 2004 and it was absolutely fabulous. The dishes were rich and exciting and we left feeling satisfied on the pallet and in the wallet. The Buttery is a Glasgow institution, renowned for its sophisticated fine dining experience. I am shocked that the Buttery has been reduced to this. The building has been branded with distasteful slogans. However, I felt re-assured upon entering that the decor remained the same. The menu was promising. I decided to stick with the main menu as the lunch menu was less than inspirational. I chose the duck ravioli followed by sea bream. The ravioli resembled something you would expect to see swinging between the legs of a Grand National winner. Did I order sweetbreads? It was tough to get into, chewy and bland. The sea bream was floating in a brown, gristly matter, which was the remains of the pan in which the fish was cooked in. I alerted the waitress who disappeared without fixing the dish. I managed to get the attention of another waitress who replaced the matter with another bland, tasteless, un-inspiring dish. The potatoes were chewy (obviously approached in the same manner as the sweet breads). I'm convinced they were served straight from the microwave. We left immediately without tip. We were offered a small box of petit fours in consolation for the disastrous event. The food was Brian Maule prices without Brian Maule decadence. My advice - go to Brian Maule!

3. RickyWilkes25 Aug 2010, 8:00pm5 stars Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery - review Report

From the quirky yet stylish interior, to the sumptuous menu, fully attentive staff and selection of aftershaves in the gents toilets, this restaurant impressed me from the word go.
My only concern is that I now need to find somewhere similar in London!?

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