Monty’s

9 Radnor Street, Glasgow

0141 357 1666

Loading article content

Lunch/Dinner: £12-£28

Food rating: 7/10

EVERY city street corner can do with an all-day outfit that does breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Look, we’re all perfectly capable of knocking up a bacon roll at home, or mashing up our own avocado on toast, but if you have the disposable income, there’s always appeal in a local place with a proper espresso machine and decent eggs Benedict. It adds a dash of metropolitan sophistication to humdrum daily life.

Monty’s, in view of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Galleries, is one such venture. Transformed and in new hands, I’d say its intentions are earnestly good. What do I mean? Well, it makes its own potato scones, and they’re terrific. It gets heaps of brownie points for that in my book. It shops discerningly, so you get legit sourdough bread from the Bavarian Bakehouse, not some "pseudough" lookalike; artisan cheese (raw milk, made by Barwheys dairy. Eggs (from Corrie Mains Farm), and chicken, are free-range. Monty’s makes its own baked beans. More brownie points clocking up here.

I wasn’t going to have the soup but then it catches my eye, chunky leek, potato and fresh parsley, with a glinting green, oily surface that has a lava lamp effect. It looks, smells, and tastes as though it has been made with chicken stock from bones, not stock cubes, just like my grandmother’s was, and that’s a big compliment.

Our Lebanese flatbread turns out to be more of a submarine roll than flat bread. It’s packed with herby roast chicken, vegetables roasted under a generous layer of coriander seeds and other pungent spices, and a thick carpet of hummus. Although the salad leaves are standard fruit market wholesaler offerings, and the crisps are a jarringly inappropriate aberration, it adds up to a pretty rewarding eat. £9, but it would serve two.

Our main courses are jobs-half-done, sound ideas that just haven’t been developed or worked through enough. I love the idea of a fresh mackerel salade Niçoise, although it’s disconcerting to hear, when I check if we’re talking fresh, not smoked fish, that it’s cooked with a blowtorch, which sounds to me like an inappropriate use of said implement. The disappointing, overpriced (£12.50) result is quarters of a slight fillet, neither raw nor cooked, on more of the dull leaves, overboiled green beans, way too many boiled potatoes, in a dilute creamy dressing. My advice to the chef is to check out Simon Hopkinson’s recipe for this classic dish, to learn how to blanch beans so they stay green, and note that anything bearing this name needs eggs, tomatoes, black olives anchovies; a vinaigrette dressing.

The mutton Dopiaza is a better performer, its spicing fresh and natural, the meat tender. But the rice tastes like easy-cook parboiled, and "mango flatbread" (the bread might be home-made it’s so rustic) is simply smeared with mango chutney. Spiced onions in a vaguely minty, possibly tamarind dressing are better than the mouth-mugging curry house equivalent, but that’s not saying much.

Our lemony treacle tart is a bit dense with breadcrumbs, and the portion is mean, but sea salt stands up to its sweetness and it’s drizzled with heather honey, pollen, and topped with vanilla ice cream by Cream o' Galloway, which is not only organic but also the finest ice cream you can buy in Scotland. Another dessert – "Black Forest ganache with macerated cherries, Chantilly cream and chocolate soil" – is clunky and solid, but the ganache is strong and dark, its crumbly base is a pleasing crumbled nutty shortbread, the cherries do taste like fresh ones that have been immersed and softened in alcohol, the dairy component balances the uncompromising chocolate thwack.

The frustrating thing about well-intentioned Monty’s is that with some simple elaboration and guidance on the cooking side it could significantly crank up the overall standard. There’s much to like about Monty’s: affable staff, a stimulating west end buzz, the accommodatingly flexible, broad church menu – indeed, the very fact that it’s there. Like a second-stage labour, a few more big pushes, and the results could charm one and all.