DINERTEC @ ART LOVERS CAFE

IT had been a festive season of gluttony in Tec Towers and it was all too much for the Moll's waistline.

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Cutie knew she had piled on the pounds - she wasn't slipping into these slinky numbers quite so easily.

But it was lunchtime and that pained expression said only one thing: Grub was urgently required.

Moll was struggling to squeeze into her casual finest, muttering about too much turkey, potatoes and stuffing.

"Aw Tec," she pleaded. "How about some posh nosh."

That way, she figured, she'd be confronted with a fat-friendly menu, as she so delicately put it. Sweetums is nothing if not transparent.

At the mention of posh I felt a hole burning in my wallet.

And with Christmas just past there weren't too many greenbacks to splash on scran.

But one rather swish joint had been on my radar for a while - and I was hoping it wouldn't break the bank.

So I revved up the Buick while she got her gladrags on and put the final touches to her lippy. Then we were heading to the South Side and into Bellahouston Park.

Believe me, I was getting a serious stare from the passenger seat. "A park, are you mad?"

But to say toodles was gobsmacked when she caught sight of House for an Art Lover would be an understatement.

"Wow Tec, this is awesome," she enthused, her jaw just about hitting the deck.

The house is impressive, built to a Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, it had a distinct "ladies who lunch" look to it.

And after 15 minutes of "did I dress up properly" and "do you think I'll fit in", we were shown to seats in the Art Lovers Café.

I had scored big time here and I knew it. The atmosphere was not at all posh, it was relaxed and family friendly.

But the surroundings and the décor raised it a touch above the norm. Quite simply this was a classy joint, from the smart and efficient service to the eye-catching paintings on the wall.

Moll's peepers were fixed firmly on the menu while I perused the drink offerings.

"Oh no," she hissed. "No more vino collapso for you."

So we resolved – for once – to make it an alcohol-free meal.

Moll opted for an iced tea, which was beautifully presented, while I had a glass of water. This felt like purgatory.

But the food more than made up for it. I was eyeing up the goats' cheese, potato and vegetable cake with apple and hazelnut salad as a starter.

Moll, whose culinary eccentricity knows no bounds, decided she would have a portion of French fries. Not chips, mind you, French fries.

We chose well, the goats' cheese cake was delicious. Top marks for presentation.

I even snaffled a few of the Moll's fries. She was so happy with this place she had become generous.

Toots decided to go fishy for her main course. The pan-fried red mullet, with sunblushed tomatoes, mussels and leeks in shellfish cream sauce had taken her fancy.

I was tempted by a trio of pork, ham haugh and butter bean casserole with roast potatoes. At £10.75 and £9.95 respectively this was great value - and excellent grub.

We were both full but decided to share a banana sponge with rum custard and peanut butter ice-cream for dessert.

"That feed was superb," said the Moll, "You did well Tec."

I felt a glow of pride.

Even better, the wallet hadn't taken too much of a battering: £35.60 the lot for a classy all-round foody experience.

And Moll wanted to go back some day. Now that's a result.

ART LOVERS CAFE, HOUSE FOR AN ART LOVER, 10 DUMBRECK ROAD, BELLAHOUSTON PARK, GLASGOW TEL: 0141 353 4770

STARTERS

Warm goats cheese, potato and vegetable cake, caramelised apple and hazelnut salad £4.95

French fries, mayonnaise dip £2.25

MAINS

Pork, ham haugh and butter bean casserole with roast potatoes £9.95

Pan-fried red mullet, torte of sunblushed tomatoes, ragout of mussels and leeks in shellfish cream sauce £10.75

DESSERT

Warm banana sponge pudding with rum custard and peanut butter ice-cream £5.75

DRINKS

Iced tea. £1.95

Glass of water free

TOTAL £35.60

Food and drink

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