Argyle Street, the longest street in the city at just over two miles, meanders from the Trongate to the West End. At least it did before the M8 cut a swathe through the city centre – cars were the future – creating a cul de sac section beside Anderston Railway Station. On Friday we walked almost the full length of our most famous thoroughfare, crossed the motorway and found ourselves at a distinguished culinary landmark.
Ryan James bought Two Fat Ladies on Dumbarton Road and then took over here ten years ago (he now has three restaurants).
The Buttery has been around for a lot longer – the building dates from 1870 – but it took a patient refurbishment and some flair in the kitchen to establish one of the best restaurants in the city.
An old-school classic, it could be considered something of a hipster trendsetter as, it’s fair to say, Two Fat Ladies liked Finnieston before it was cool.
This is the type of place that is difficult to create, it has to evolve over time. The oak and mahogany, the plush bar and reception area, tartan carpet, stained glass. You are entering a time capsule of Glasgow hospitality.
It is a traditional dining room without being stuffy. If you took a date here, they would be impressed without being over-awed.
The staff glide between tables and put guests at ease. There’s a buzz of easy conversation, a good sign on a Friday afternoon.
We called in to pick out the highlights from the new lunch menus. From the A La Carte menu, we started off with a plate of flash fried west coast scallops, served with delicious morsels of Ayrshire bacon, button onion, lettuce and garden pea cream (£9.95).
This is a punch-the-air moment type of dish. A perfect balance of fine Scottish ingredients and just a joy to eat.
Next up, we ordered some halibut, delivered direct from Peterhead. This was pan-fried and plated up with spinach and cheese mash, dressed with smoked haddock cream (£25.95). There was a lot of eating in this main course – there was also a side of vegetables – and the smoked haddock cream partnered well with the substantial hunk of fish.
We ordered a glass of rosé settled in for a look around the dining room. The best table is probably the alcove in the corner, ideal for indiscrete conversations over a long lunch. Having said that, there’s a Chef’s Table where groups can peer in to the kitchen and enjoy a bit of food theatre.
Now, they take desserts seriously here. The selection treads a fine line between traditional puddings and innovative concoctions. The vanilla pod cheesecake with light mincemeat base(!) and After Eight ice cream is intriguing. Then we spotted the creme brulee with pina colada cream and coffee shortbread. Who can say no to that?
They also had created some quince ice cream so we needed to try a scoop. A seriously tasty idea.
As we came to the end of our lunch we were thoroughly enjoying our meal in a cocoon of calm. The food continues to keep pace with the times in a restaurant from a more civilised age.
Take a seat, turn off your mobile phone and enjoy hospitality the way it should be.
Glasgowist interviewed Two Fat Ladies owner Ryan James last year, you can read the article here.
Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery
652-654 Argyle Street
Tel: 0141 221 8188
This is also an excellent new set lunch and pre-theatre menu:
Freshly prepared soup of the day
Chargrilled bread with pastrami, red onion & black grape marmalade & melted brie
Soft poached egg on kale mash, olive tapanade (v)
Curried smoked haddock risotto with grilled Stornoway black pudding
Catch of the day
Roast supreme of chicken, cream cheese & garlic mash with an “a la king” style sauce
Seared Shetland salmon, rocket salad, fennel & saffron pesto
Breaded spiced pulse cake on tomato concasse, chargrilled sweetcorn salsa
All served with roasted vegetables and potatoes
Homemade brandy basket of ice creams, fruit coulis
Blood orange pannacotta with a bitter dark chocolate ganache, raspberry puree
Plum & cinnamon crumble, stem ginger custard
Duo of Scottish cheeses with Arran oatcakes
2 courses – £16.95
3 courses – £19.95
Served daily 12pm – 2:30pm and 5pm – 6pm (subject to availability)