It’s a common occurrence in any city that a much-loved restaurant or bar will inevitably shut down either after 95 years or just as you get used to it being around.
The latter are often units which are always changing hands, leaving loyal customers dismayed but intrigued by what’s to come. This is the case with 70-72 Hyndland Street in Glasgow’s west end.
For years this was the address of Delizique, the sister venue to next door’s Cafezique. Owned by Mhairi Taylor, who has been part of Glasgow’s food and drink scene for over 20 years, it was a lunch spot serving sandwiches, salads and home baking as well as coffee, at a time when the area wasn’t over-run with competitors. Then in 2018 it was renovated and opened as a stylish restaurant and bar, Gather by Zique.
My colleague Gaby, who reviewed it the same year called the food magnifique - giving it a 9./10.
I visited often and always enjoyed the dishes and cocktails, so it was with some surprise that it closed after a short run in summer 2019.
It was then the turn of Absolute Roasters to embody the space. It was to be the ‘forever home’ of this former coffee van turned brunch spot that came with an army of fans.
While the team put every effort into weekend brunches, late night cocktails and a pub quiz, it wasn’t to be, and they departed in early 2023 to open another branch in the city centre.
Now 70-72 Hyndland has opened as The Skillet by the team that had The Square in Broomhill. The venue has had a quick, but effective turnaround in style, with banquet, covered seating, cushions, candles, fairy lights and small vases of flowers on the table taking the edge off the former industrial style of the space.
We visited within the first week of opening and were instantly impressed with the look, feel and service which was friendly but not intrusive from the get-go. As for the menu, it’s a small book covering everything from breakfast and brunch right through to lunch, dinner, desserts and cocktails.
This place has been licensed since the Gather by Zique days, but has never seemed to draw a huge bar crowd so it’s nice to see the new occupants coming up with a range of drinks - from house cocktails to a full negroni menu, Dante New York style - to entice people in (the fairy lights are enough for me).
Anyway after a slightly sweet but refreshing white negroni (Beefeater dry gin, Lillet Blanc and Luxardo Bitter Bianco, £8.50) we tucked into starters of sesame prawn toast (£10) and panko popcorn chicken (£8).
The prawn toast was small, golden fried slices of bread packed with prawn and topped completely with sesame and a blob of glossy red chilli jam - they looked a bit like deep fried afternoon tea finger sandwiches.
To add to the flavour, they were served with a smooth satay sauce sprinkled with whole peanuts. Surprisingly light, these were a tasty start, although the sauce could become a bit overpowering if overly dunked.
Across the table, the rose harissa yoghurt was a highlight of the crisp panko chicken dish, which could have benefited from more seasoning.
For mains, I continued the fish theme with the monkfish scampi (£16) while it was the sirloin steak (£26) and a side of crispy layer potato cake (£4) that was ordered.
I’ve come to really love monkfish, and the monkfish scampi served at nearby Crabshakk Botanics is hard to beat. Sadly here this dish doesn’t beat it. While it was well cooked, with the meaty fish encased in crisp batter, there was a lack of seasoning and overall taste.
The tomato sugo it was served with was nice, but felt more like a pasta sauce and the fries were slightly undercooked.
The steak, which came from Rodgers Butchers up the road, was well cooked, and the accompanying roasted vine tomatoes and roasted shallots complimented it, it could also have done with better seasoning.
The layered potato cake was a delight - crisp on the outside and buttery soft inside - it was a lovely alternative to chips. We weren’t full enough to pass on dessert, but instead shared the light and not too sweet spiced poached pear, which transported us back to Christmas time. The flaked almonds added texture and the ice cream some sweetness.
While the food at The Skillet didn’t blow us away, it’s a nice neighbourhood restaurant that deserves a second visit so we’ll be back for brunch and cocktails soon to see if time has ironed out any teething problems.
70-72 Hyndland St, Partick, Glasgow G11 5PT
0141 286 7886