DINERTEC @ Red Leaf, Alea Casino

CRIMBO is coming - and that means just two things.

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The Moll is getting fat and the bank balance is goosed.

I don't want to come over all Grinchy but I do all the work and the big dude with the beard gets all the credit.

I don't mind admitting it - I'm claustrophobic and I suffer from tinselitis.

But with 12 days to go and counting, I was still planning on having a cool Yule

"Look out the LBD, babe," I said.

"We're going to paint the town red."

And for once I meant it.

Normally, The Red Leaf at the Alea Casino is the kind of joint that might make me choke on my chardonnay when the cheques dry up.

But a little bird had tipped me off about the £10 dine out menu.

And right now that was my idea of a Christmas cracker with all the trimmings.

We were met by a guy called Mikey who steered us to a table with a waterfront view of the city of blinding lights.

Mikey said we could add a large red or white for only £2.50 and I was happy to raise a glass to that kind of offer.

By now, The Moll was ready to turn over a new leaf with a first- time starter for a tenner.

The deep-fried haggis bon bons sounded like the ideal French confection mixed in with a bit of entente cordiale.

Five small but perfectly formed pieces made this starter a proper handful.

The breadcrumb coating hit the perfect spot between being crispy and not overdone.

And that meant the taste of haggis was a home run all day long.

It may have lacked neeps but there was plenty of nippiness thanks to the Arran mustard and whisky dip.

The mouth-wateringly fresh salad made this an A-team dish.

"I love it when the scran plan comes together," said The Moll.

I had decided to kick things off with the potato and leek soup. A little bit of black pepper and I was good to go.

And from the first spoonful, I was in alphabet soup starting with R for roasting - and that's the way I like it.

The taste of the two vegetables was perfectly balanced.

And this was no mini helping. It was pleasantly filling without going over the mark.

I was chilled and the Moll had also left the Ice-Station-Zebra look in Tec Towers. That had something to do with the Leaf's easy vibe. Don't get me wrong, it's a ritzy kind of joint.

The cutlery wouldn't look out of place at Buck House. And the stylish food presentation would win any royal seal of approval.

But before anyone gets the wrong impression, I was impressed by the staff's down-to-earth charm.

I kept the main course real by opting for the chicken supreme.

And it easily lived up to that description. The poultry was pan-friend and a good bit bigger than the baby-sized portion mentioned in the menu.

I checked it was free range and it was, another plus mark.

Truthfully, this was the best chicken I've had for the longest time, a real 'love meat tender' moment - and Elvis wasn't even in the building.

And there was hunka, hunka burning bright flavours. A hint of sage and onions combined perfectly with creamy mash, carrots and broad beans to give the thing a wonderful kick.

This was as good as it gets.

Blondie was also enjoying a Hollywood moment with a pork loin stamped with star quality.

Silence was golden as she made short work of the meat, which was succulent, a sure sign that it had been cooked right to the second.

Another big plus was that the ginger and soy marinade had been added after the cooking to max-out the flavours.

It was a win-win all the way, especially when you factored in delicious new potatoes, the cabbage and sprinkling of thyme jus.

"Well, Tec, you're a star ... that was out of this world," was Blondie's verdict.

The Red Leaf had kept me back in the black, especially when the bill was just over 30 greenbacks. I must recommend it to my pal Claus.

RED LEAF RESTAURANT, ALEA CASINO, SPRINGFIELD QUAY, GLASGOW TEL: 0141 530 9838

Food 4444 Atmosphere 4444 Service 4444

DINE OUT FROM £10 MENU

Starters

Potato and leek soup

Crisp fried haggis bon bons with mustard & whisky and leaf salad

Mains

Soy and ginger marinated pork loin with new potatoes, cabbage and thyme jus

Sage & baby onion roasted chicken supreme, with carrots, mash, broad beans and a mushroom sauce.

Drinks

Two glasses of house white £6.45

Two glasses of house red £6.45

Total £32.90

Food and drink

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