Haute and about in the east end
Bilson Eleven in Glasgow celebrates first anniversary with new lunch openings
IT takes a lot of courage to give up one career and take up another one. But when Nick Rietz completed a day-long cookery course at the Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith he announced to his then girlfriend Liz: “I want to be a chef.”
But true to his word, Nick gave up his work in the building trade and found a junior position at Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery in Glasgow. That was more than eight years ago and since then Nick and Liz have married, had two children, and a year ago they opened their own restaurant, Bilson Eleven so Nick could focus entirely on producing the kinds of food in which he excels … the finest Scottish ingredients, some French je ne sais quoi, and a side helping of theatricality.
It was an ambitious project given their choice of location in Dennistoun in Glasgow. “It was a no-brainer for me,” says Liz who grew up in the east end of the city. “We live here, and we love where we live. It’s perfect.”
It is fair to say it is something of surprise in the district. But next month Bilson Eleven, named after their two children Billy and Sonny, celebrates its first anniversary.
“It has not been easy,” says Liz. “But people have got behind us and appreciate what we are trying to do.”
Creating the restaurant Bilson Eleven was a labour of love for the Rietz family. As is the case with many of Scotland’s finest restaurants, it is set within a stunning heritage building … but with that choice came a lot of painstaking research, restoration and renovation. The 19th century townhouse on Annfield Place was one of the very first homes constructed in the newly developing suburb of Dennistoun.
The setting is calming and the pace is peaceful … a far cry from the fastmoving small plates culture that has become familiar elsewhere in the city.
Diners are greeted by Mark Keating, a larger than life character with distinctive ’tash and tweeds … he certainly provides some theatricality, but he knows and loves the menus.
For the Christmas season the restaurant is offering two fixed menus … with no turkey in sight.
The menu deliberately teases with its minimal descriptions … “Chicken” for example is a combination of a tender breast, an Ethiopian spiced thigh that is slowcooked for five hours and potatoes cooked in three ways. “We just want to focus on the quality and hope the diners put their trust in the chef and the team,” says Nick. Bilson Eleven is celebrating its first anniversary by extending opening hours to lunchtimes on Fridays and Saturdays. Nick adds: “This is the end of our first year but I have plans for future as well. I want to spend as much time as possible researching and improving to keep things fresh.” See more at bilsoneleven.co.uk
EXPERTISE: Chef Nick Rietz hopes diners will put their trust in his team at Bilson Eleven.