Eating out with the bairns

I shouldn’t really still be calling them “bairns” as they’re all now at or past the 20-mark but that’s how I still think of them, to differentiate them from my own ageing generation. It’s rare that I can round up the three of them but a few weeks ago, we managed to have lunch together in Paesano (Great Western Road).  Both Rama and The Loon had a good 45 minutes free to devote to this activity though My Favourite Niece had a bit more time on her hands.

However fast we were eating, the two lads at the next table who had been seated after us left before we did, and not only managed to put away their pizzas but they followed up with brownies and ice cream.  I was both impressed and horrified at this display of speed-eating, having been brought up to chew my food properly and hearing still Uncle George’s admonition of any child bolting their food: “you’re not feeding a crusher”.

Mindful of The Loon’s limited available time, I’d consulted with him and put in his order before he arrived; when his pizza was put down just minutes after he came, he looked disdainfully at the bits of spinach on top and practically accused me of being in league with the management to force feed him greens.  It’s not that he’s vegetable-averse, and none of them are, I think it was just that he wasn’t wanting them on his pizza.

We’ve been in here a few times and I used to order a salad as well as a pizza but if I did, I had to eat my way through it alone, though My Favourite Niece would take a cherry tomato or two; then they’d watch me chomp my way through the rest of it.  Having been ordered, there was no way I was going to let it go to waste but it was a long haul for one person.  If I was the Health Secretary, I’d have a compulsory salad for each table – or no pudding order would be taken until it was finished.

I always look round the room to see if I’m still the oldest person in it; it’s primarily a young person’s place, I think.  It’s a big, bright space though it can be a bit echoey – a former bank, on a corner site.  For me, the pizzas are slightly undercooked in the middle with an edge that’s slightly too doughy, but I understand that’s how they’re supposed to be and they certainly come very quickly to the table.

The service is generally good though I ordered tea and got only a cup with a teabag in it so was wondering if you were supposed to go and find your own kettle.  We managed to get the attention of a passing waitress who went off to get my pot of hot water; the original lassie then came over to apologise for the oversight.  I have to say that if I’m paying for a pot of tea, I don’t like having to ‘make’ it myself though I suppose it suits those folk who just like to dip the bag momentarily in the water.

Rama and I have been to Ronzio, now occupying the space in Byres Road left by Turadh. I’m still sad that Turadh passed away so quickly as I’d hoped it would improve and then flourish but alas, the writing was on the wall – or rather, the dirt was on the ceiling.  I was very pleased to see that the new owners have painted said ceiling in green and gold though the metal vent running across one side spoils it a bit.  The place has been refurbished in a variety of materials and they’ve made more sensible use of the upstairs space.

They’ve got a good range of fruit teas; I enjoyed their passionfruit one.  The food though has major room for improvement.  The tomato soup was the colour of no tomato I’ve ever seen and I’d strongly dispute that it was made on the premises; there was no element of freshness or texture about it and suggested more some kind of ‘tomato’ sauce.  Rama’s was tepid by the time it arrived as the waitress had been faffing about trying to find him; they have a system whereby you first go to the till to order and pay before you go to your seat.  We’d arrived and so ordered separately but were sitting together and she found that confusing.

My bread that accompanied the soup was half toasted and I suspect that was because it was on the stale side; my Caprese salad contained zero basil.  Rama’s ‘focaccia’ turned out to be a slice of the same bread with mayonnaise spread on it – he’s allergic to mayonnaise, so ate only the topping.  I knew better than to try to raise these matters there and then as Rama’s facial expression forbade it.  Maybe they were having teething problems or on off-day so I’m going to give them another chance, mainly on the strength of the paint job on the ceiling.

My Favourite Niece and I fared much better the two times we went to Non Viet, trying both the Sauchiehall Street and the Great Western Road branches.  Because I’d enjoyed their crispy vegetable roll starter and their coconut chicken curry so much on my first visit, I had the same the second time so I can hardly say that I’ve trawled their menu.  My companion has actually been to Vietnam so was a bit more adventurous in her choices.

Sonny & Vito’s in Park Road is another place that suits these students, and I’m not complaining.  It’s busy and maybe kind of small and it was three visits before I realised they had a shop bit at the back with some interesting jars and bags of stuff.  There’s not much room for browsing however with the tables so close together.  The food’s freshly prepared; on my first visit I had a very good small tart, the pastry crisp, with a lot of salad.

When I was young, I don’t remember ever eating out as a family, except maybe for being in a café in Dornoch or Lochinver during the summer holidays for an ice cream.  My first experience was when I was about 17, going with a friend into Glasgow to spend our Saturday job money having a meal at Epicure’s and thinking we were oh so sophisticated.

Older relatives took me out from time to time – and now it’s my turn.  The bairns provide me with IT support with varying degrees of patience; I provide them with advice from the 20th century which for the most part, they resolutely ignore.  I don’t mind that, I just wish they’d hurry up and discover the pleasure in being a critical friend of a business which, after all, is supposed to be delivering a service.  It’s a joy when they get it right but when they don’t, who will put them on the right path?

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