RED PEP­PER

The Herald Magazine - - EATING OUT -

IDON’T know if they’ll ever adopt this style of greet­ing at Gle­nea­gles but it has its charm. “Big man, what can I get you?” the chap be­hind the counter says by way of a warm wel­come. When I make my or­der it’s fol­lowed by: “Big man, you can help your­self to drinks,” then a wave at a glass fridge over there con­tain­ing ice-cold bot­tles of Diet Cokes. It tran­spires the bot­tle opener is sup­plied on re­quest.

As we turn and scan the empty ta­bles in the neon ex­plo­sion that is the restau­rant area, leav­ing the warmth of the grill be­hind us, it’s fol­lowed by a fi­nal Glas­gow shout: “Haw, big man!” I turn, half ex­pect­ing to hear: “Naw, I meant wee man,” but it’s sim­ply: “Sit in the restau­rant through the back – it’s not so cold.”

Off we tod­dle. Turn­ing right, past ta­bles of young dudes spread­ing the news. I wouldn’t say Red Pep­per here, tucked as it is in a far-flung sec­tion of St An­drew’s Road with a kitsch ice-cream par­lour bolted on the side, is un­wel­com­ing but it’s a strangely mas­cu­line old place tonight.

Eyes lift in mild cu­rios­ity as we wan­der past booths. Fur­ther on there are so many colours it’s al­most be­wil­der­ing and is that wall ac­tu­ally stud­ded with glass beads? Could this place have been dec­o­rated by a man, I won­der? It surely wasn’t a woman. A blind man, per­haps?

Through the back I’ve only sat down for a mo­ment when I’m see­ing fleet­ing blue shapes float­ing right be­fore my very eyes. Uh-oh. Am I hav­ing a stroke? Fat Food Critic Found Dead In Ke­bab Shop – Food Not Served could be mildly em­bar­rass­ing for ev­ery­one.

But it’s only the re­flec­tion of the flick­er­ing blue neon light above the ta­ble warp­ing through the plas­tic lens of my Tesco read­ing specs.

A waiter comes and goes again. Un­smil­ing. Os­car-win­ning ac­tors weep and drool their way through speeches on the gi­ant widescreen, Meryl Streep punches the air be­wil­der­ingly. More speeches drone on. And still no food.

On top of that I’ve been to the toi­lets and frankly if I was you ... I wouldn’t. Right now? Frankly? I’m start­ing to think this is pos­si­bly the least promis­ing restau­rant I have been in for a long time.

Irked, I cast my mind back. Who rec­om­mended this? Ur­fan! I text him.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MARTIN SHIELDS

No, your eyes are not de­ceiv­ing you: Red Pep­per is di­vided into a sec­tion sell­ing feisty burg­ers and ke­babs and an­other spe­cial­is­ing in ice-cream treats

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