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Casa Ole

Casa Ole

1835 Paisley Road West,

0141 882 3222

Price Rating: 2

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Bland ambition

Review published on 05/11/2012 © Sunday Herald

Yeah, OK, hands up, I did misread the directions on the website. So after we come off the motorway at Govan we head a few miles to the left, towards the city. But that’s because Casa Ole is right in the “heart of Glasgow”, or so its website says anyway.

Then we head a good few miles to the right because we can’t find it in the heart of Glasgow. Or in the lungs, the liver or even the buttocks, for that matter. Then a few more miles to the left again – all this as the rain pours, the car windows mist up and we peer through yellow street-light gloom at four-digit street numbers.

When we finally track down Casa Ole it turns out to be perched above Sammie’s chip shop in Cardonald – why didn’t they just say that? – and far closer to the heart of Paisley than Glasgow. But we won’t hold that against them, or the handwritten sign saying the card machine’s not working tonight, or the Spanish bullfighting posters not seen, by me anyway, in any restaurant since the late 1970s.

We won’t even hold the quite considerable delay before the hot food is brought to the table against them. Why? Well, Luca and I are enjoying heavily garlicky olives and bread and we know that when we walked in so did another three sets of customers right behind us. And it looks, from where we’re sitting anyway, like there’s just one guy in the kitchen and one guy up front tonight.

Menus? We might have to hold these against them, though. There are loads over the table. Tacky paper ones, slightly better plastic ones, some with the plastic peeling right off and all saying the same thing – this may be billed as Glasgow’s newest Spanish restaurant but it’s plain old tapas, folks.

Did I mention the crimson decor? It’s very red. The music? Abba, Cavatina and then some full-volume eeh-hah guitar plucking. All in swift and rather loud succession. There’s no knife with Luca’s cutlery. There are no spoons to serve the food when it does arrive in the sort of little terracotta dishes seen in a million tapas joints the length and breadth of the country. Anyone else feel a deep sigh coming on?

Did I mention this is not a bad spot for a restaurant with windows covering two walls and looking down on Paisley Road West? And did I mention the food? No? Ah … I was slightly putting that off. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Particularly. Though they could perhaps be a little more adventurous.

When we ordered the splendid-sounding caballa alla parilla it was because grilled mackerel in a citrus dressing sounded different. I wasn’t expecting a heated-up smoked mackerel fillet – looking like it’s straight out the packet – with no citrus dressing. Slightly disappointing. Still, the chicken in sage is draped in the herb, sauteed in garlic and delicious, though it could do with a bit more work on the presentation.

Moving through the dishes, then. Meatballs in tomato sauce are OK, a bit dense though; the chorizo in a similar rich tomatoey offering can’t be faulted on its flavour. The chargrilled asparagus could do with a bit more charring and the patatas gratinadas, while tasty, are a tad hard in the middle. At least the beer-battered king prawns are crisp and sweet, though sweet chilli sauce is a disappointingly ordinary accompaniment. Is it cumin that flavours the pescado en adobo, or white fish in batter? Possibly. There’s good flavour to the fish although the batter’s not quite right. Is there a problem with the deep-fat fryer through the back or has the poor chef just been hit with the nightmare of orders from four tables arriving at exactly the same time?

I don’t know. I do know that Casa Ole may well turn out to be a great little neighbourhood restaurant, but on tonight’s performance it still has some teething problems to iron out. And do something about those paper menus.