FOR The Ubiquitous Chip’s head chef Doug Lindsay and general manager Will Allen, Christmas begins in July.
“We start having conversations about the menu, do some market research into what’s new, talk to suppliers about what’s available,” explains Will.
“By September, things have been finalised. It’s always about balance - we want to keep the traditional, familiar classics The Chip is known for, but also bring in new, contemporary dishes we can have some fun with.”
He adds: “Technology has changed so much in the kitchen in recent years that we can really experiment with new techniques, while staying grounded in the provenance of locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable practices where possible.
“Christmas at the Chip is a lot of fun. It is hard work, the days are long, but once the celebrations start, it is really worth it.”
The West End institution has recently revealed its Christmas and Hogmanay menus, catering for everything from a relaxed catch-up with friends to a full-blown family get-together or corporate night out.
In the restaurant, the three-course festive menu (£60 per person) includes Shetland cod, served with vadouvan mussels and tomato tartare, and roast Jerusalem artichoke with mushroom ragu, alongside traditional turkey and all the trimmings.
Starters feature Eyemouth crab custard, venison haggis and caramelised chicory tart, while tantalisingly-named desserts include a Manjari chocolate and cherry delice, and a Christmas pudding parfait.
The brasserie menu (£45) features turkey schnitzel with roast sprouts and pancetta, and hake fillet with leeks and smoked haddock cream among the main courses, and a cranberry and poppyseed sponge trifle for dessert.
The emphasis is on fine dining using local, seasonal produce, just as it was when The Chip opened its doors on Ruthven Lane in 1971.
Trail-blazing original owner Ronnie Clydesdale believed the city needed a restaurant which championed quality Scottish food and drink.
It moved to Ashton Lane five years’ later, and quickly became one of the West End’s most-loved and successful venues, adored by everyone from students at nearby Glasgow University to staff from BBC Scotland, whose headquarters were then just up the road on Queen Margaret Drive.
Celebrated Scottish artist and author Alasdair Gray was a regular – he painted a striking mural in the courtyard – and artworks on the walls pay homage to many of its former staff and customers.
“Christmas is a nostalgic time, and at The Chip there are so many memories from the last 53 years wrapped up in the place,” says marketing manager Rachel Stakes.
“What’s lovely is that alongside the regulars is a whole new generation of customers discovering us for the first time.
“We never take for granted the people who know the place so well, but it is always lovely when someone comes in having found us, and Ashton Lane, for the first time. Everyone can co-exist happily at The Chip, we have an eclectic customer mix.”
When Ronnie died in 2010, his son Colin and his wife Carol stepped in to run the business.
“We are very fortunate at the Chip because Carol and Colin, and Ronnie before them, cemented us as part of Glasgow culture,” adds Will. “We continue to build on their hard work and move forward with a similar ethos – everybody welcome, relaxed fine dining and good, locally sourced food.”
On Hogmanay at The Chip, the Grand Dinner (£160 per person) comprises an exquisite tasting menu, plus a piper on arrival, whisky at the Bells and music from live band The StereoBeats. The night will end with a ceilidh on the cobbles.
Hogmanay in the Brasserie costs £100 per person, and includes arrival fizz, a four-course menu and a ticket to the famous Ashton Lane Street Party.
The festive season starts in earnest at The Chip, however, on December 6, when local traditional musicians kick things off with a night of song and celebration.
“Hopefully that will put everyone in a Christmassy mood,” says Rachel, smiling. “We’re really looking forward to welcoming everyone in for a magical festive season.
“Christmas at the Chip is just a lovely time, everyone is enjoying themselves whether they have popped in for a drink, or to dine with us, and there is such a buzz.”
She adds: “The atmosphere on Ashton Lane at Hogmanay is electric. The place comes alive and it is wonderful to be at the heart of it all.”