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.
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