If the 5pm Food blog could award medals for bravery, we would pin a big one on Alan Tomkins.
The veteran Glasgow restaurateur has revealed plans to unveil a new 180-seater restaurant and bar, Ralph & Finns, on the St Vincent Place site of Urban Brasserie.
As well as all day dining in the Garden Room, guests can enjoy a cocktail at the 22-seater marble bar.
The venue also has an impressive Whisky Room and large private dining area for up to 32 people. The latter is named The Boardroom in a nod to the building’s history as the former Scottish HQ of the Bank of England. A reported £600,000 was spent on the rebranding.
The restaurant, which has been owned by the Tomkins family for over 15 years, features interiors designed by award-winning Mark Brunjes of CM Design, known in Glasgow for his work in Paesano, Hutchesons and BrewDog Bars.
Premium Whisky Room
Obviously we are all currently living under certain restrictions so Ralph & Finns will open on Friday with reduced hours and a range of mocktails, soft drinks, non-alcoholic wines and Cava. However, when some semblance of normality returns, they aim to make the most of their 1am licence - the Whisky Room will showcase over 50 premium brands including special malts from Highland Park, Bowmore, Laphroaig and Macallan.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Emma Tomkins takes the reins at Ralph & Finns along with Andy MacSween, who takes on the role of Operations Manager. Andy has spent the past seven years managing the teams at two of Glasgow’s most successful restaurants, Ox and Finch and Ka Pao.
'We’re thrilled to announce the opening of Ralph & Finns this November. When customers step inside the restaurant, they will find the space completely transformed.
'Our well ventilated and generously spacious venue will allow us to seat over 100 people comfortably whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
'We’re excited to welcome back Andy to the business, who worked with us over ten years ago and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his time with Ox and Finch and Ka Pao. We’re also sure regular customers to Urban Brasserie will be delighted to see our team return to lead our restaurant into an exciting new era at St Vincent Place. So many of our staff have worked with our family for many years and we cannot wait to welcome all customers into Ralph & Finns.'
Classic dishes with Scottish produce
The Head Chef is John-Paul Lappin who has worked with Urban Brasserie owner Alan Tomkins for a long time.
'I’ve worked with Alan for over 15 years now, first at Urban and then had the pleasure of working with Emma as we established Ollie’s as a separate and equally successful venture. I’m excited to be heading up the kitchen at Ralph & Finns with my original team from Urban Bar & Brasserie, some of whom I’ve worked with for five years. We’ll be using bold favours and great Scottish produce for classic dishes we hope everyone will enjoy.'
Stand out dishes include a beef carpaccio starter with charred artichokes, pickled walnuts and peppered goats cheese, and some retro classics with a contemporary twist, including the signature chicken Kiev. The restaurant will also serve supreme cuts of Scotch beef sourced from local farms alongside a range of premium wines.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week, between 11.30am and 6pm while the current restrictions apply.
Alan Tomkins has been a familiar face on Glasgow's restaurant and bar scene since he opened Lautrec's Wine Bar & Brasserie in 1982. Since then he has expanded his interests to some of Glasgow's most notable establishments, including Urban Bar & Brasserie, Vroni's Wine Bar in West Nile Street, Ashton Lane's Vodka Wodka, Ollie’s in Pollokshields and Blue Dog, the late night music/piano bar in West George Street.
The 5pm Food blog wishes every new venture good luck but the Tomkins family deserve a special round of applause for having the belief to launch Ralph & Finns in the current climate.