Each time I visit a new city, I do what most foodies do and try the local speciality. And in Glasgow, it was reasonable to assume this should be haggis. A quick survey of my Glaswegian friends resulted in a near unanimous recommendation of Ubiquitous Chip for the best haggis in town, and it didn’t disappoint. UC has been around for decades and has a look to match its timeless nature. The interior maintains its rich dark wood panelling but the high ceilings and excellent use of natural light gives it a very modern air.
Check out the lighting too while you are there as they’ve turned old cut glass decanters into lamp shades and the stoppers dangle as a chandelier. About half the restaurant benefits from a massive skylight which gives you great light (and few shadows) for taking pictures although has the slight drawback of being quite hot on a sunny summer day.
What do I need to know?
- The venison haggis is worth every penny and then some and will likely ruin all other haggises (haggi?) for you
- Wines and whiskies on offer are something special and worth spoiling yourself
- It ain’t cheap – a three course meal with a drink will set you back £50
- They do, in fact, serve chips – it’s just not on the menu
- Make a booking before you go – easily done a day or two ahead
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★★☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
There is a small pub area off the back of the main restaurant which has a pretty good range of beers and whiskies as well as a full bar. Space is limited though so it might be better to check out one of the nearby pubs if you have a large group. Our group of three slotted in nicely at one of the small tables, though, and the atmosphere is upbeat and friendly.
What to eat?
Well obviously I was getting the haggis which is made in house from venison since 1971. But first we started with a complimentary amuse bouche from the chef – a chilled gazpacho garnished with almonds and grapes and an amaretto foam. This was a nice touch and you get it regardless of if you order from the affordably priced set menu (2 or 3 courses for £18-23) or the full a la carte menu. Oh and the bread (a mix of rye and something else) is spot on particularly with the soft goat’s milk butter that accompanies it.
In the restaurant, the haggis is a starter portion while in the brasserie you can choose it as either a starter or main (and yes they have a veggie haggis option too). And quite simply put, it was the best haggis I’ve ever had. Now granted, I’d never had haggis in Scotland before, but this dish was delicious and I’d have easily scarfed twice the amount. It had a soft tender texture with just a bit of give on each bite. The rich offal taste was enhanced with a bit of heat which really was the icing on the cake for me. It was so good, I was tempted to forgo the rest of the meal and order another round. My cousins opted for the seared scallops and the duck carpaccio, both excellent dishes in their own right which avoided any food envy on our parts so all in all our meal was off to a good start.
For mains, we chose the cod, fallow deer, and of course a Scottish sirloin. We also inquired about the lack of chips on the menu and discovered that the founder named the restaurant as a play on the common assumption that the Scots had everything with chips. And to further that reference, he chose not to put any chips on the menu. They’ve since acquiesced and do serve chips but its still not listed on the menu.
In general, the mains were cooked well and presented beautifully but sadly under seasoned. The cod rescued by a flavourful creamy sauce and the venison by its jus, but the steak had little to support it. Even the brown shimp and chilli butter, while very tasty, wasn’t enough to really bring out the flavours of the steak. So we quickly polished them off (more from hunger than enjoyment) and moved onto dessert.
For us, that came in the form of a lemon curd meringue and a crème caramel. Although neither had chocolate, I still enjoyed tasting both as the flavours with crisp and seductive particularly the lemon curd meringue which burst with citrusy goodness. The crème caramel was silky smooth and slid over the tongue – something I’ve always tried to get in my own creations but never quite this good.
How about a drink?
Again, in Scotland it would be a shame not to have a bit of whiskey so I went with the Old Fashioned. I was remiss in finding out which whiskey was used, but the end result was a winner in my book. The cocktail was mixed well and the whiskey had a bit of a bite (not something I’d usually expect) that added a bit of extra pizazz. If I wasn’t still recovering from an overdose of whiskey last weekend I’d have gone for another one or three. UC has a cool whisky cage where they showcase a truly impressive range of single malts from the highlands and lowlands.
The wine selection is also top notch with even the house red and white being some of the best wine I’ve sampled to date. It was almost enough to make me wish I had gone for a glass of red (a merlot cab-sav mix I think) if the Old Fashioned hadn’t been spot on. My dessert wine choice was a late harvet malbec which a good amount of sweetness without nearing sickly levels like a Pedro Jimenz (not that I don’t enjoy that too). It would be a good option for those of you who want a bit of a sweet treat at the end but nothing too rich.
Worth the dosh?
Three courses for three people plus a round of drinks rang in at just over £150. It’s a bit pricey, particularly for a non-London restaurant but the quality of food and drink, excellent friendly service, and the beautiful atmosphere makes it worth the money as a special treat. That being said, the next time I’m around I may opt for the brasserie and just feast on haggis, chips, and whiskey as those were the absolute winners for me – and you can’t go wrong with that.
Find Ubiquitous Chip here
12 Ashton Lane, Glasgow, Central Scotland G12 8SJ