Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
June 11, 2019

Bo & Birdy, Glasgow, restaurant review

The new Bo & Birdy is the best people-watching perch in Glasgow, says Gaby Soutar

It’s quilted, has a chain handle and costs over three grand (if it’s kosher Chanel and lambskin, or £12 for pleather that you secretly got down the Barras).

I spotted four of the same handbag – one in baby blue, another in beige, pale pink and dependable old black – at the new Bo & Birdy restaurant.

With my Miss Jean Brodie practical tote in tow, I felt like a spuggy landing in a tree full of high-maintenance macaws.

Proof that this place hasn’t lost its draw for the spangly folk of Glasgow since it was taken over by the InterContinental Hotels Group last year.

They’ve spent three months refurbishing and rebranding the restaurant space and promoted staffer Gillian Matthews into the position of Scotland’s first female five star hotel executive chef.

The red, white and black livery has gone and it looks bigger. The focal point is the bar island, upholstered in green fish scale tiles. Tables are pale marble, banquettes leather, the light-fittings look like art installations, and their unofficial dress code is Prada/Moschino/Gucci, to fit their “farm to fabulous” manifesto.

On our dinnertime visit, everyone seemed to have the same drink – the signature Bo & Birdy (£9) – with an iridescent peacock feather pegged to the side of the glass. I may not be able to afford a fancy handbag, but I shall have that plumed cocktail.

It was rather special, with Botanist Gin, Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, lemon, Byrrh, and a frothy egg white spume, with three hearts drawn on, barista-style, using Peychaud’s Bitters.

Their genre of food is bistro with a twist. I went for the rolled spring lamb breast (£8), which featured whorls of meat, frisee, a few clumps of a very mild goat’s cheese and wedges of salt baked beetroot. Even though the meat was a little dry, this made for a pleasant showcase of all things earthy.

If you’re a ploughman, go for the hearty Ardunan Farm pork pie (£8). This slice was the size of a softback book, with a layer of apple jelly under the sturdy pastry, and mustard seeds and gherkins packed into the pale porky filling.

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It came with three condiments – wholegrain and a fiery English mustard, plus a sweet onion chutney – and there was a colourful pyre of carrots, baby turnips and gherkins, all of which had a cider vinegar tang.

• READ MORE: Scotland’s first female executive head chef: Gillian Matthews on going from waitress to leading the kitchen at The Blythswood’s Bo & Birdy

For mains, there are upmarket takes on macaroni cheese, steak, risotto or burger. However, I went for the St Bride’s chicken (£19), since it had been recommended by the waitress. It featured wing and breast of chicken, a shiny rich jus, spinach and three stubs of herby gnocchi.

Nice enough, but the large fillet of line caught cod (£19) was more exciting. It came with an even more intensely chicken-y sauce, a few oyster leaves, looking vibrant against the black plate, a couple of chicken wings and some struts of char-lined leek. Lovely.

In need of extra carb, we also had a large side of Shetland sea-buttered Jersey Royals (£5), which were greased up and dotted with a confetti of dulse, like they’d tried to swim the Channel.

A second side dish of truffled cauliflower cheese (£6) wasn’t particularly truffley but came in a fondue party’s worth of melted fruity cheddar. We ended up scooping out the veg, and dipping everything else into the clinging fromage-y soup.

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We couldn’t finish all of this, so even though the pistachio cake with frozen yogurt and rhubarb (£7) was calling to us, we only allowed ourselves a single dessert. Just as well, as the salted caramel pudding (£8) was more than enough for two.

“Too sweet, too sweet,” my dining partner repeated, like the mantra of a diabetic Buddhist, though he kept on going.

From the bottom up, there was a layer of syrup-saturated sponge, a moat of hot salted caramel sauce, sliced banana, a caramelised sugar layer, a large blob of fudge ice-cream and a sail of praline.

So good, and I’m glad that they’ve kept it fancy at this place.

It’s still a hot destination for the Glasgow glamazons, though they will permit the occasional Edinburgh house sparrow.

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Bo & Birdy Glasgow

Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, 11 Blythswood Square, Glasgow (0141-240 1633,

First look at the menu at Glasgow's newest restaurant Bo & Birdy

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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