“Are you a musician?” The server asked me. “You look like someone I’ve seen before but I can’t place you.” After quizzing each other with various people and places we may have met, it turned out in the nineties we both worked at local wine shops and may have crossed paths at industry tastings. Maybe I’d recognize him clearer if he shaved his beard, but probably not.
It was the first time I’d been in The Refectory, one of the finest restaurants in the city, in my entire time here, and the moment I entered the main dining room I regretted missing out on those lost decades. It’s a beautiful space in an old church. The decor was fresh, there was nothing tired about the place.
And we were there now. Finally met the sommelier after following him on social media for a few years. He poured us a couple of amuse bouche samples of obscure Italian wines to start the show.
We had very good wine. She had antelope, I had the four course chef’s menu. The sous vide beef shoulder was outstanding. Nothing was rushed. The staff on the floor were all working together with a learned precision that was not pretentious, but natural. Our dinner a few years back at the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow was outstanding in quality and service, but last night went past that. The Refectory is a skilled team from front of house to back.
There was no way I could afford to go in there until now. Even when I was in the wine business in the nineties it could not be done.
As we ate I was thought about a quote a local chef recently said in an article about her. She said that fine dining was dead. This is the same chef who passively/aggressively insulted my wife in front of a dining room full of people. The same chef who partnered with a local brewery owner who is now accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Fine dining is not dead, it’s the lazy, uncreative and harmful attitudes of those who control the narrative that should be. On our way out we walked past one of the former food critics from the Dispatch, who had just finished his dinner. I was never fond of his writing style, it turned into a template the last few years of his reign. Yet when a place gets outstanding reviews for over thirty years, innovates with the times to provide a superior dining experience, you keep going back. As will we, sooner than later. It’s worth it.