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Restaurant review: 3D Dining at The Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow.

Restaurant review: 3D Dining at The Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow.
As birthdays go, 40 is a milestone. It's a point where many take stock, and maybe try something new. And just as some might go the route of the ill-advised tattoo or expensive sports car, others pluck up the courage to abandon their dead-end jobs to travel the world or retrain for the career they've always wanted.
 
In the case of The Ubiquitous Chip, one of Glasgow's most venerable restaurants, hitting the big 40 has been a chance to have a bit of fun by taking a leaf out of Toy Story's book and venturing into 3D with the "world's first interactive 3D dining experience".
 
The Chip is well known for its summery atrium with cobblestones and fountain, but tonight, we were joined by some wildlife in its Glasgow garden. Stepping into the main restaurant, we stepped into a pool fish and lobsters rush to nibble our feet... just one of several intriguing illusions designed to give dining out a new twist.
 
Throughout the meal we were joined by 3D images relating to the evenings set menu. For instance, enduring an excellent fish course. a reproachful-looking salmon dropped in, perhaps a bit annoyed that we tucking into his brother, followed closely by a conga-line of dancing scallop shells.
 
Because of the light show, the restaurant was understandably very low-lit - a situation that had the curious effect of concentrating the palate on the three-dimensional flavours on our plates.
 
A 'tassie of Cullen skink', served as the name suggests, for non-Scots, in a small cup, was creamy with the right balance of smoked haddock, and a hint of citrus.
 
Maintaining the marine theme, the next course was a superb seafood trinity, consisting of a crab, pear and celeriac choucroute, Black Bottle whisky and beetroot cured salmon and Queen scallop, dulce and mirin ceviche.
The crab's sweet meatiness was well balanced against the essentially astringent flavours, while the smokey earthiness of the whisky and beetroot was an interesting counterpoint to the salty tang of the salmon. But it was the sweet fresh scallops that were the standout: succulent and meaty, the dulce and mirin marinade added a light, piquant lime and salt flavour.
 
The appearance of a flock of pigeons circling the middle of the restaurant heralded the arrival of the next course - a pressed Perthshire game bird terrine, with warm puy lentil and shiitake salad, and sherry and walnut pickled enoki mushroom. The terrine had a pleasant gamey focus, complimented by the woody nuttiness of the supporting cast and cut through with a pleasing vinegary top note.
 
The arrival of the meat course was accompanied by a sweet-faced Highland cow ambling into the room to watch benignly as we tucked into a shin of beef in Rioja glaze with marrow beignet, shallot essence, potato and sage gnocci - a case, I suppose, of meeting the meat.
 
Unfortunately, after a run of uninterrupted hits, the beef was on the dry side, but there was little to criticise about its accompanying elements. The sweet marrow beignet was a marvellous inventive touch, and the gnochci nicely herbed.
 
But with one last rally, we were presented with dessert, which consisted of The Chip's "famous Caledonian oatmeal ice cream" with caramelised banana and Angostura rum fattened golden raisins. Rich in flavour and texture without being teeth-achingly sweet, the dish proved a fitting end to the meal: artful and well-balanced.
 
And so what to make of the whole three dimensional dining experience? Well, it was fun and certainly gave people something to chat about, though as the dishes and wine slip by, it can become a bit of a task to put your 3D glasses every time a new image appears in the room.
 
But in the end, what made the experience was the blue chip quality of The Chip's food. 3D visuals are fun; but it was the ingenious flavour combinations of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients that give real depth. Just as Toy Story 3 was memorable for the characters at the heart of the film, when you dine at The Chip, it's the food that counts.
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10 March 2011
By: Craig Brown
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