The Educated Flea, the Prancing Stag, the Bonnie Badger, the Bath Street Palamino, the Crafty Pig, the Hyndland Fox, why do restaurants pick names that sound like children’s storybook titles? I can never remember them. All they trigger is a distracted mental search, along the lines of: “That restaurant at the corner of X and Y, the Befuddled Baboon, or something.”

And now let's add the Dapper Mongoose, a name I’ll recall only long enough to write this review. But its location- Shawlands, Glasgow- and it’s cooking- not derivative, surprising- now those nuggets of information I will retain for future reference. And visually, perhaps its blueness: indigo lighting that makes a feature of the bar, those azure blue tiles bathed in turquoise light, and the leggy bar chairs all stop the interior looking humdrum.

The menu here wakes up my jaded palate. So often you read a menu once, find nothing much that you fancy, then scrutinise it again, trying to make the best of a bad job. Not here. Actually there’s competition; dishes vie with one another. Fortunately it’s a small plates selection, so we are not too conflicted.

We dip into a luxuriant chicken liver paté, puce pink and stiff like thick whipped cream with just an undertone of sweet alcohol. It comes with toasted chunks of creditable sourdough from nearby Deanston bakery and its weight again in ‘today’s butter’- with Spanish morcilla (black pudding) and crisp bacon beaten into it- which impregnates it with a smoky minerality. Alongside comes sweetly piquant pickled chilli, shallot, carrot, celery, and samphire. This assembly would make a nice lunch on its own, and it’s a steal for £5. Meanwhile, three little slow-cooked, golden-crusted beef nuggets strike a pose on their glass plate. Their rich veal jus glimmers as does the liquorice-black pool of sticky-sweet fermented black garlic aioli. Inside this delicate crust the meat comes away in tender shreds.

READ MORE: Zinfandel Gastro Bar, Nithsdale Road, Glasgow. Restaurant review by Ron Mackenna

Angularly cut cauliflower, roasted to just the right point where it’s definitely cooked, but not mushy, is distinguished from some wannabe Ottolenghi effort by its flavour-loaded smoked cheese velouté. A smidgen of date jam, a quivering confit egg yolk also make the brassica more unctuous, while a snowfall of crispy fried onions adds contrasting texture. How good is this lamb rump? Maybe at this time of year it almost qualifies as hogget, meat from older, more mature sheep. Certainly its intrinsic flavour is there in force, and it’s so pink and dreamily tender. A star in and of itself, the lamb comes with salt-baked beetroot that taste exceptionally of themselves, amber-crusted potatoes- in a sort of pommes Anna treatment, only made with duck fat rather than butter- with smoked whipped feta, and a judicious amount of black olive crumb layering on salty savouriness. A phenomenal plateful for £9, substantial enough to be a main course, and given the high cost of lamb, a definite bargain.

‘Gel’? That words usually worries me, but this pearly cod in its IPA batter that comes with a lemon rendition converts me to the G word; it’s strikingly right with the deep-fried fish. Heap on this Jalapeno riff on tartare sauce, and celeriac remoulade, I’m drooling. This line-up doesn’t need its bao bun presentation. I ignore said bun. Parsnips? This treatment is innovative- golden with turmeric and honey, but I search for, and don’t find the promised presence of curry leaves.

It’s the same with the warm coconut rice pudding, which comes with roasted pineapple carpaccio, and coconut ice cream. What happened to the ‘lychee gel’? So subtle I missed it? And these ‘Crunchie’ waffles with near molten honeycomb under them, topped with dark chocolate ganache, honeycomb ice cream, and a honey and lavender sauce, are galumphing. The ganache would make great truffles, the rest is OTT sweet and stodgy, but hearty eaters will doubtless lap them up.

Overall though, the Dapper Duck, or whatever this place is called, isn’t playing safe in the suburbs. It seems to march to its own tune, successfully, for the most part.

The Dapper Mongoose, 248 Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow 0141 632 4579

Food: 8 and a half/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Value for money: 10/10

Joanna Blythman

Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018