“We’ve been raring to go since last year but obviously it hasn’t been able to happen”, says Craig McKay, 29, general manager of new restaurant, The Duke’s Umbrella, which opens in Glasgow on May 17. “After fine-tuning and getting ready, we’re feeling optimistic about hospitality in general. There’s a desire for people to enjoy drinking and dining in a more sociable setting after this pandemic.”
This venture is being launched by the team - including Craig and development chef, John Molloy, 36 - who are behind one-year-old Glaschu on nearby Royal Exchange Square.
Their lockdown project has involved transforming the ground floor of a Nineteenth-century building, on the corner of Argyle Street and James Watt Street.
Most recently, this was a pub, Traders Bar, but the space has an interesting past as a warehouse, which once stored wheat for the local Cranstonhill and Bilsland Bakeries, then as family-owned clothing and retail store, Lawson’s. The name is a reference to that, and gentlemen’s outfitters in general, though there will be no dress code.
(However, it’s Glasgow, so you will be needing that brolly).
We’re anticipating a smart but casual affair.
“The styling is based around both the history of the building and the pared back public houses and eateries of the time”, says its designer, Grant Rough from Edinburgh-based Rough Designs. “There will be lots of exposed brick, as well as rustic leathers, a high vaulted original ceiling, French crystal chandeliers, smoked black mirrors and some eclectic pieces of artwork”.
The interior is going to be quite different from their sister restaurant, as is the menu.
While Glaschu has more of a fine-dining edge, The Duke’s Umbrella will offer a gastropub-style food list, with dishes including slow braised smoked ox cheek, seasonal pies and an intriguing sounding Guinness panna cotta.
It will be open seven days a week, with brunch and a Sunday roast at the weekend, and they hope to screen the Six Nations and hold events including a book and brunch club in their private dining space. There will be real ales, “fine wines”, and cocktails, including a signature Twisted Treacle, with Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, heather honey, apple juice, spiced apple bitters and a pinch of whisky smoked salt.
They’re anticipating that post-pandemic, diners will be craving comfortable seats and upmarket comfort food.
“We’re offering familiar dishes but cooked to the same level and using the same ingredients and techniques as more classical fine dining restaurants,” says John.
Also, even though the nearby Blue Lagoon attracted Justin Bieber, no less, they’re promising the best fish and chips in town.
“We have tried various batters,” says John. “There are a few secret ingredients and techniques we are using, but we may have to keep them under our, erm, umbrella.”
363 Argyle Street, sign up to the mailing list at www.dukesumbrella.com for notifications and event updates