Forty years back when Ronnie Clydesdale opened The Ubiquitous Chip, Ashton Lane was a hodgepodge of abandoned stabling and dodgy dealing. Today it's the only place worth considering along this strip of boozeries. Upstairs you can watch as segregated packs spew in and out of 'Vodka Wodka' and 'Nude'. Last Thursday the lane buzzed with Oirish accents. The patron saint of Guinness was having his day. Men with ear pieces smiled and parted to let us pass. Twenty seconds later we were back outside asking them how to get into the restaurant.
Inside it was dark, very dark, as the effortlessly affable James showed us to our table. On the way there we crossed a virtual rockpool, apparently it's fishy inhabitants would nibble our fingers if we lingered long enough. We didn't, so they didn't. We got to our table and donned the 3D specs immediately... "Is that shrub over there in 3D? What about that light? The wine list?"
Thank god the wine list wasn't, it's scale was enough, much to the chagrin of my 'companion of your choosing'... as specified on the invite.
It's not cheap, but it's a damn good collection and Richard the sommelier was keen to help. Each course was preceded, or followed, by a 3D projection about... well I'm not really sure, but at one point a giant clam nibbled my nose. Honest. Meanwhile, on another wall, an impressive Alasdair Gray mural scrolled along. It reminded me of an early Sega Megadrive game and I could have gazed on it all night.
The food was good. The starter, marrow fritter and desert were seriously good.
Three attempts at a white Chateaneuf didn't fair so well. Four years in it's half bottle hadn't been kind.
There were no quibbles just apologies... from me too by the third attempt. The red Pic St Loup was delicious, a few pennies shy of £30 and worth it.
We couldn't help but admire the ambition of the night. At one point 'my choice of companion' uttered the immortal line, "A squid's gone inside that lady's head, do you think I should tell her?". Glasgow feels very staid just now and the more people pushing the boat out, even a virtual one, the better.
This was a freebie and part of their 40th anniversary celebrations. Something similar's planned for later this year. Normally it's £49 a head. When I went to settle the drinks they said it was covered, exceptionally generous.
We wandered upstairs to the bar where friends were drinking in memory of Allan Mawn, someone else whose ambition went beyond bottom lines. He died suddenly and far too soon. As we chatted and supped, a woman who'd just been given short shrift by one of our crowd, came back to pour wine on his head. He shrugged, she returned to her seat. No one got punched and no one got thrown out. It was a perfect Chip moment.