Haute and about in the east end

Bil­son Eleven in Glas­gow cel­e­brates first an­niver­sary with new lunch open­ings

Sunday Herald Life - - FASHION FEATURE -

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.

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