Niven's by Café Source
- Telephone 0141 471 9666
- Bar open Mon–Tue 11am–4pm; Wed–Sun 11am–midnight
- Food served Mon/Tue 10am–4pm; Wed–Sun 10am–4pm; 5–9pm
Neighbourhood bar and brasserie with particular focus on brunch, small plates and an elegant bar.
Many Southsiders will know the one-storey building on Nithsdale Street, where the walls feel like they run at 30 degrees to each other, and light sears through into a delightfully relaxed space of the sort not commonly found. Most recently it was an Asian fusion restaurant, before that an upmarket bar, before that a neighbourhood brasserie. It’s not all plain sailing in Strathbungo.
Perhaps it’s with this chequered past that the new tenants have opted for ‘Niven’s by Café Source’. Back in the day it was Niven’s motor garage. A nod to history. And with Café Source operating two other restaurants in the city, making that association in name will help lend a sense of stability and know-how.
Yet the food here aims higher than its siblings. And lands, too. Chicken thigh, delicately sliced, shaped and perched on pearl barley, is defined by its crisped-up exterior and a glorious whiff of garlicky truffle. Ox cheek and haggis pie has glossy, satisfying pastry and meat of impressive depth and juiciness. It’s the sort of dish about which folk say ‘you can’t go wrong with that’ – when actually you can, quite easily. But evening head chef Keir Murray prepares these crowd-pleasers with finesse. And if his pretty arrangement of mango, pickle and rhubarb ice is over-complicating gin-cured salmon a little, it is cancelled out by Cullen skink arancini – where an initial blast of smoky haddock, and fragrant lemon cutting through a dollop of mashed potato, go towards creating what is an outstanding dish.
Informality is clearly the aim – Niven’s works well as a bar, too (manager Conor McGeady runs the West End Beer Festival so he knows his hops). These days no neighbourhood loves its brunch like the Southside, so it’s worth watching out for daytime menu developments. Currently, there are variations on eggs and avocado, with charred chorizo, burnt aubergine and tofu scramble in the mix.
The likelihood is that as things bed in, the various menus will become more happily coexistent – rather like the drinkers and the diners and the daytime and evening customers already seem to be. Niven’s is truly solid, in the truly modern sense.
- Private dining: Up to 20 covers
- Provides: Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Outdoor tables, Free wi-fi
- Music on stereo: contemporary pop/rock
- Live entertainment: pop-ups combining kitchen take-overs and artists performing are planned
- Capacity: 40
- Open since: 2018
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 6
- House wine: £16.95 per bottle