The Herald Magazine - - EATING OUT -

SIT any­where,” the wait­ress says ges­tur­ing across the half-full room. “Any­where?” we say right back at her, eyes dart­ing ner­vously be­tween that big, fat, comfy-look­ing six-seater booth up against the back wall and that tiny two-seater leper ta­ble right, tight in front of us at the draughty front door.

“Any­where,” she says again. Hon­estly? For a mo­ment we’re to­tally baf­fled. Put it down to be­ing au­to­mat­i­cally di­rected to the worst ta­ble in the room at so many restau­rants over so many years, put it down to know­ing full-fat lunchtime is 30 min­utes away and they may need the six seater, put it down to scan­ning the room, en­tirely full of women, and not­ing not one of them took the only booth in the place when pre­sum­ably told to sit, er, any­where.

I try again. “Even at the booth?” I ask awk­wardly, half ex­pect­ing a wither­ing re­ply along the lines of: “Of course not, stupid. There’s only two of you.” But if there’s scorn for the stu­pid­ity of the stupid men stand­ing stupidly be­fore her the wait­ress hides it ex­tremely well. “Yes,” she says pleas­antly, be­fore head­ing off. Fully boothed up, then, menus in hand, drink or­ders taken – two pep­per­mint teas, please – and vaguely won­der­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen if six an­gry women turn up at the door look­ing for lunch, we scan the room.

White ce­ramic tiles, the nice ones with the bev­elled edges, good light­ing, airy win­dows and gen­tle chat­ter in the back­ground. I had been told this is very popular with south side ladies who lunch and even tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ties: foot­ball pun­dit Char­lie Ni­cholas has been spot­ted here, ap­par­ently. In­deed, it was my big pal Kevin McKenna, him­self now a top TV per­son­al­ity, who texted me about it. I was meant to come with him, but an emer­gency in­ter­vened. Sort of.

It has a pleas­ant feel any­way. A young smi­ley wait­ress buzzes up to take the lunch or­der – re­peat­ing what she told me

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MARK MAINZ

The ser­vice and am­bi­ence at Ollie’s are ex­em­plary, although those seek­ing off-piste cui­sine should prob­a­bly look else­where

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