DINERTEC @ Gumbo

IT'S a lady's prerogative to change her mind.

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Sadly, the Moll's no lady - and when she digs her heels in there's more chance of shifting a mule than persuading madam she's picked a dud.

"I want something hearty," she said, holding me in her no-nonsense gaze.

"Something to warm my heart and my taste buds."

But where to find somewhere hot enough for the lady but without wallet-smoking prices?

Blondie had the answer: "Soul Food, Tec. Take me to Gumbo."

Although soul food originates from America's Deep South, Gumbo, Glasgow's newest restaurant, is way out west.

The Buick spluttered to a stop in Byres Road outside a dark-fronted watering hole – part bar and part restaurant – that used to be called The Common Rooms.

The joint was pretty quiet and The Moll immediately pounced on the cocktail menu, purring contentedly as she flicked her eyes over the dozens of sweet- looking choices.

My eyes scanned the table for a food menu but there was nothing to be found.

A helpful waitress explained the choices are all written on a blackboard.

The Moll squinted. "Gumbo?" she said, "A Po Boy?"-

I could sense her growing impatience but just before feathers started to fly a waiter appeared with some helpful explanations: "Gumbo is a stew or soup served over rice that originated in New Orleans while a Po Boy is a Louisiana sandwich."

He also recommended a Hush Puppy, a type of corn bread.

It sounded exactly what the Blonde wanted and we couldn't wait to order. But wait we did, the Moll's temper rising and her stomach growling.

This old Tec wore out his shoe leather trailing back and forward to the bar asking for service.

Just as it looked like the lady was going to walk out in a fury, the food arrived - an hour from when we sat down.

All I could hope for was that the dishes would be worth the wait or the Blonde would have me sleeping in the Buick.

The lady had gone for chicken gumbo, a hearty dish with meat, okra, rice and spices - but it could have done with packing a lot more heat.

The recommended Hush Puppy turned out to be off the menu so the lady went for a side dish of chips, which also lacked a bit of Southern style and were served with plain old tomato sauce.

"I'm never letting you choose the venue again," The Moll growled, without a hint of irony.

My double home baked macaroni cheese was real home cooking - sadly more like The Moll's home cooking than Momma's.

The side of home-made 'slaw was fine and dandy but not enough to rescue this meal, which was more fill-a-hole food than soul food.

To make up for our disappointing main courses, I ordered a dessert of deep-fried cheesecake.

This, at least, was delicious but a few of bites later I could feel my arteries contracting.

The Moll wouldn't even touch it - and it's been a long time since the lady claimed to be watching her figure.

At the end of the evening the bill was more than reasonable. And no wonder, with a main dish coming in around £6.

But the waitress had forgotten to mention the joint is cash only so I was even further down at heel after trekking to a cash machine.

Soul food was born on the plantations of the Deep South but became a cuisine in the cities of the northern US states.

Traditionally, it's heavy, calorific and designed to fill you up. This food ticked all the boxes and didn't scorch my wallet... unfortunately it didn't heat up the taste buds either.

GUMBO, 71-77 BYRES ROAD, GLASGOW

TEL: 0141 334 7132

MAINS AND SIDES

Chicken gumbo £6

Double home baked macaroni cheese £6

Chips £3.45

Home-made slaw £3.45

DESSERT

Deep fried cheesecake £3.95

DRINKS

365 Days of Christmas cocktail £6

Corona £2.55

TOTAL: £31.40

Food and drink

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