Good, old-fashioned Glasgow hospitality at Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery
There are certain destinations that you just have to tick off when dining in some cities, and when it comes to Glasgow, The Two Fat Ladies falls under such a list. As one of Glasgow’s oldest and most-beloved restaurants, The Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery is an institution that brings with it a reputation for comfort and classical dishes; somewhere you can take a dinner date or your granny, and have complete confidence that you’re all going to enjoy it.
We won’t lie; it’s not the trendiest of joints, but then it doesn’t need to be. The oak panelling, chintzy patterned china and stained glass, well, everything, won’t set the interior design world alight, but you don’t come here for the Instagrammability. You come here for the food, and for the atmosphere, and for that alone, it’s well worth the visit.
Comfortably seated (a privilege you can absolutely take for granted here, we don’t think there would be an uncomfortable spot in the house), we were shown the pre-theatre menu for our lunch date on a sunny Saturday. The menu was far more varied than we’d anticipated; The Two Fat Ladies is primarily spoken of as a seafood restaurant, but there were plenty of options to sate the diehard carnivores and hardcore herbivores surrounding us too, plus the option for an additional full vegetarian and vegan menu if required.
We started with a bottle of Sentier dan les Vignes (£21) to perfectly pair with all manner of dishes, the ideal way to start what we hoped would be a slightly boozy lunch date, and a selection of freshly-baked breads and whipped butters. The celery bread was dense, wholesome and satisfyingly savoury, whilst the garlic loaf packed a seriously herby punch that proved to be really quite irresistible (so much so, we had to request a second helping, and were told by the waiter that this bread is such a firm favourite with the staff, it rarely makes it onto the restaurant floor – we can see why).
Onto the starters, and a trio of (deeply) deep-fried crispy Macsween haggis bon-bons was the order of the day, served atop a sweet red onion and rosemary marmalade, and a tingling Arran mustard dressing. Crumbly, crunchy and coarse in texture, the bon-bons were just what you’d expect, but the dressings took them to the next level and turned this bite-size snack into something much more elegant, with flavours that felt satisfyingly familiar whilst remaining exciting to eat.
Swerving the seafood for the main course, I was drawn to the Moroccan lamb stew; a comforting heap of warmly-spiced, tender lamb chunks dressed in refreshing minted yoghurt, served with a side of mashed sweet potato. The ‘catch of the day’ was a rich and creamy fish pie, complete with hunks of salmon, king prawns and haddock, topped with an enormous lid of melting, flaky puff pastry and, again, served with buttery mash. We also ordered entirely unnecessary side dishes, in the form of triple-cooked chips and Mediterranean roasted vegetables, which were both indulgent and utterly delicious.
By the time dessert rolled around, we were struggling, I can’t lie. But with the promise of classical sweet treats on the menu, we couldn’t skip it. The homemade brandy basket, served with chocolate and strawberry ice-creams, was the more sensible option, as the smaller portion satisfied a sweet tooth without overstuffing – but when was dessert supposed to be sensible?
Ever the glutton, I opted for the warm almond and cranberry sponge pudding, served with a huge dollop of velvety clotted cream and a wonderfully tangy, silky lemon curd – think of it like the school puddings you wish you could have had. A crunchy, sugary top lends itself beautifully to the warm, dense sponge which is studded with sparkling cranberries and tasted wonderfully of marzipan and amaretto (my favourite things), whilst the two sauces brought additional vibrancy to the dish. Traditional to the point of almost going full-circle and becoming hipster again, you need to leave your pretentions at the door and just enjoy this one – its utter deliciousness more than makes up for its ‘tea at granny’s’ appearance
And that’s the lasting impact of The Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery. It’s not ground-breaking, but it’s a slice of good, old-fashioned Glasgow hospitality that you just can’t fake, and that’s what makes this place so special. It’s dishes that will make you smile, and flavours that you can relax into, in the knowledge that you’ll enjoy every morsel. How often can you say that about a restaurant?
The lunch/pre-theatre menu that we enjoyed was staggeringly good value, at £20.50 for three courses (the chips and veg were extra, at £4 and £3.50 respectively), so you wouldn’t feel too extravagant about ordering that bottle of wine and getting comfortable for the afternoon.
For a special occasion, a girlie lunch or a cosy dinner date, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend booking a spot at The Two Fat Ladies – it’s an institution for a reason, you know.