I am told I have a quiet voice, like a catarrh-riddled pygmy shrew.
To project and become louder, they say you should open your mouth wide, keep your tongue down and sit up straight.
Can’t be bothered, I’m a sloucher and a mumbler, and I think people’s volume is sometimes innate.
For example, at this eatery, we’d been slotted next to this guy – a town crier in a previous life. His lung capacity and timbre was such that everyone at either end of Dalry Road, from Pizza Geeks to Xiang Bala Hot Pot, could probably hear him.
We didn’t mind, especially as his chat was mainly food-based. There are nine Michelin-starred restaurant in Scotland, he had Googled. He’d been to The Kitchin, and highly recommended The Gannet in Glasgow, though it doesn’t have any stars, and was going to try 21212 next.
His Before I Turn 30 Bucket List included a really good restaurant in Denmark called “N, n, n, something beginning with n”. I restrained myself from adding “oma”.
Anyway, loudhailer boy, patiently nodding girl, my dining partner and I had found ourselves here.
It has a homely and slightly vanilla style, with a no-surprises menu of Mediterranean fare. Choose from hot or cold tapas and mezze. We went for the hot croquetas de serrano (£5.50) – four fat breadcrumbed capsules of ham-dotted paste, with a paprika sprinkled garlic aioli on the side. They were bullets to the heart of a chilly evening.
The cold melitzanosalata (£4.50) or aubergine dip, was good too, with garlic, olive oil, onion and parsley in the grey moosh, and a sprinkling of feta on top. We asked if this came with bread, or if we’d have to order it, and the waitress said they’d give us some for free.
This turned out to be stale slices of baguette – a shame, as we would have upgraded if we’d known.
Our third choice – octopus (£8.95) was really a main course. There were two Herman Melville-sized charred tentacles, simply dressed with garlic and olive oil, alongside loads of crunchy roasted potatoes, tomatoes on the vine, carrot sticks and (strangely unwintery) asparagus.
One more mezze would have done, but we’d also chosen a couple of main courses. Oopsy. The seabream (£14.95) was a huge portion, with two fillets of baked fish, as well as meaty lentils, and more of those carrots, potatoes and asparagus. They go big on the garlic here, which is appreciated.
My pollo con serrano y manchego (£13.95) was also simple but satisfying. The ubiquitous trio of veg were there, all sloshed with loads of olive oil, but there was also a chicken breast, swaddled in a bed of salty ham sheets and an 18 tog cheese duvet.
We needed to pause half-way, and the waiter was mortified that we might be giving up.
It’s a bit like being at your granny’s house, if she was a notorious feeder who wanted to pork you up so she could shove you in the oven (or is that Hansel & Gretel?).
Perhaps as we were being such slo-mos, we became invisible at plate clearing time. We performed every “we’re done now” manoeuvre (cutlery together, plates pushed forward, arms crossed), and eventually managed to procure the dessert menu.
There is baklava (£4.95) of course, and this is an especially sticky, nutty and honey-drizzled one. It stuck to my palate like a dental mould. We felt that we couldn’t say no to the blueberry mousse (£4.95), since the waitress insisted that it would blow our minds. Not bad – frothy, light and fruity.
Getting the bill was an effort, then paying with my card was a further lengthy trial. Eventually, we slipped on our coats, and the waitress passed our table while muttering, “I know, I know, I’m coming”.
Fair enough, this pygmy shrew woman IS annoying, though it wasn’t busy, so who knows how long your visit will be on the weekend.
Anyway, if you can put up with the clunky and non-intuitive service – fast at first, then sloooooow – you will be properly stuffed for a reasonable fee.
I doubt this place was ever on loudhailer boy’s bucket list, but we heard that he liked it.