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Mince Pie Spy: A Christmas treat in Glasgow

McHugh's at House of Fraser (Jamie Williamson)
McHugh's at House of Fraser (Jamie Williamson)

WHAT is it about Christmas shopping and working up an appetite?

Is it the miles of walking or the bicep-building bag carrying?

Maybe it’s the adrenaline pumping round the system as you fight the crowds and the rising sense of panic that you just aren’t going to get it all done in time?

It was probably a combination of all of the above that had your trusty Spy in need of some mid-shop sustenance.

But at this time of the year it was time to stop talking mince (don’t deny it, I know what you were thinking) and start munching it.

Mince pies, that is.

Where though? It had to be somewhere with a feast of festive spirit, a whole heap of ho-ho-ho.

House of Fraser, on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, ticked that box with an oversized felt-tip pen.

It was pretty as a picture. In fact, wandering up the wide staircase towards the landing with the big Christmas tree, it was like walking in to a picture as Bill Forsyth did his festive shopping here in feel-good film Comfort And Joy.

House of Fraser (Jamie Williamson)

Curtains of white, twinkling lights hung down from each floor, watery winter sunshine streaming down from the glass roof.

The grand old store has seen the turn of a couple of centuries and there’s a mix of tradition and modern-day commercialism.

On the first floor, filled with Burberry and Hugo Boss, Barbour and Ted Baker, is Hugh’s Restaurant and Champagne Bar.

(Jamie Williamson)

It’s tucked away but was certainly worth discovering.

Festive tunes had been playing on the sales floor and my dining companion and I kept the spirit flowing – no, not with the champers – by settling down at a table next to a couple of Christmas trees.

Being as it was (just) still morning, the breakfast section of the menu was a winner.

In particular, the American Pancake Stack, hot and overflowing with a fabulously fresh fruit compote.

The mince pie was lightly dusted with icing sugar and came served on a slate with a mini-jug of brandy cream.

(Jamie Williamson)

Thick? I wasn’t sure it was going to make it out of the jug on to the pie in time for Christmas!

When it did, though, it was the perfect accompaniment to the generously-filled pastry.

And, Pie Spy as I was for the day, seeing homemade fruit scone and preserve on the menu proved just too tempting. Like the brandy cream, the jam was thick and tasty and there was a super-sized slab of butter.

Fellow shoppers – bags and parcels strewn around chairs – were similarly kicking back, tucking in and in no rush to join the crowds again.

With a couple of hot drinks it was just under £18. OK, maybe a tad on the pricier side – but, come on, it’s Christmas!

VERDICT

Warm Welcome 9/10

Location 8/10

Mine Pie Score 9/10