The Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow


The Ubiquitous Chip

12 Ashton Lane, Glasgow G12 8SJ

0141 334 5007


UC Exterior

The Bill

 A la carte

Starters  £9.00 - £16.00 | Mains £19.00 - £35.00

The Score

Cooking  8/10 | Service 4/5

Flavour  5/5 | Value 4.5/5

TOTAL 21.5/25

Nooo! I said to myself. It's happened. Worst fears realised.

When you go into a place that's changed hands you can instinctively feel the difference. The Glasgow institution that is The Ubiquitous Chip has, along with sister restaurants Stravaigin and The Hanoi Bike Club, been bought by brewing giant Greene King. Now there's no reason why a large company can't run a traditional restaurant to an incredibly high standard, but that company (or its now subsidiary, Belhaven) has previous convictions.

One of the most beautiful dining spaces in Edinburgh is the Cafe Royal Oyster Bar. Over the years its culinary standards have perhaps never reached the heights of the decor. Belhaven, however, managed to make it plummet the depths. Our meal there was awarded one of the lowest scores in the history of Tom Eats! (9.5/25). With an unfortunate irony we were dining with a former managing director of said brewery. So you can understand my forebodings.

Back to Glasgow's famous Ashton Lane. At 12.30 on a Saturday the place was deserted, apart from one other table, Will the manager and Hannah the lone server. In a bid to raise my spirits (did you know that 1 in 4 Scots adults is on anti depressants?) I perused the menu.  I have to say that it did make things a little brighter but, like politicians, bills of fare can be terrible liars.

Then more folk started to arrive, and a gentle buzz struck up. Better, but how will Hannah cope on her own? Four more tables filled, and more serving staff appeared. Then lo! The place is full of guests and the right number of waiting staff. Looking good but one can't, of course, see what's happening kitchen side.

K and LC were bright eyed, as befits soon to be parents. Enjoy it, mes enfants. Those eyes will look different three months hence. They too liked what they saw. To the food. In contemporary style, you are given a list of ingredients. Chef has resisted the temptation to show off by including more obscure stuff. It's hard to go wrong with scallops. I'm told they came with smoked cod roe, minestrone broth and fregola: I managed to snaffle only a chunk of the bivalve. Mackerel - yes please. With crab and potato salad? It's a no contest. As ever, they had me at crab. Pig's cheek and cauliflower are odd ingredients to see in a starter selection, but this was probably the star of round one. The cooking is of that subtle variety from which other individual components don't jump out at you. In the case of the latter, those included caramelised yoghurt (no, I don't know either), walnut and fenugreek.

A broad spread of mains, from venison to bouillabaisse. and a lot of Jerusalem artichoke, as befits the season. It's worth reflecting that when Ronnie Clydesdale established this place in 1971, trumpeting about locality and seasonality was revolutionary. Now, of course, everyone's at it. The restaurant name was a gentle sigh about the chips with everything nature of much of Scottish cuisine. Clydesdale refused to serve them, and today they still don't, even with steak. The restaurant credits its diners with enough intelligence to work out from the ingredients whether a dish is vegetarian. No need to splatter the menu with v, vg,vgg, cgi, gf, ffs  and the like.

Chocolate Cake with Bubble Wrap

We ate cod and sea trout. Wonderful. As was the dish eaten by the third member of the party. I just can't remember what it was. Food has to be very good indeed to tempt me to the dessert menu. We shared two. The treacle tart with amaretto ice cream and dark chocolate was every bit as tasty as it was elegant. I had chosen the dark chocolate cake with candied olives and sichuan pepper to cut through the richness. I've never had a dessert containing what appeared to be a layer of bubble wrap. It wasn't of course, just an example of either the kitchen  displaying technique, or simply being pure dead gallus. After a lunch of this quality I really didn't care.

I set a lot of store by first impressions, but I have to admit I can be wrong. In this case, woefully wrong. Congratulations, Greene King. Sorry I doubted you. The late Mr Clydesdale would be very proud of you.

We're away next week. See you in a fortnight.


  1. The Flying Scotsman on 8th March 2024 at 7:31 pm

    Relieved to hear Greene King (& more importantly Chef) haven’t sunk The Chip. GK are head quartered in Bury St Edmunds, 21 miles away from me, and 380miles from Glasgow. I wouldn’t go out of my way locally to eat at a Greene King pub. However, it sounds like it’s time to re-visit The Chip after 5 decades away. I wonder if they have GK’s iconic IPA on tap?

    • Tom Johnston on 9th March 2024 at 6:04 pm

      Ther are lots of parts to the place. We were only in the restaurant.

  2. Paul on 9th March 2024 at 11:20 am

    In days gone I was almost a regular at the “Chip” – the only place in Glasgow which didn’t serve chips! I wonder if their wine list is still as good.

    • Tom Johnston on 9th March 2024 at 6:03 pm

      I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the wine list, but a fine meal.

Leave a Comment