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A TEENAGE boy had just passed his driving test and asked his dad, a church minister, if he could borrow his car. 'Yes, you may borrow my car, but only if you study the Bible, work hard at college and get your hair cut.'

A month or so later, the boy asked again if he could borrow the car.

His father said: 'I'm very proud of you, son. You've been studying your Bible and your exam results are brilliant. But you still haven't had your hair cut.'

'You know, dad, I've been thinking about that,' he replied. 'Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, even Jesus had long hair. I want to be just like them.'

'Okay, son, that's fine by me,' said his dad. 'But I think you'll find they walked everywhere...'

I was reminded of that joke just the other day while sitting in the barber's chair. But I didn't have time to think of any other old crackers (not even the one about the hairdresser who smashes his client's nose with a brush after she asks him to make her look like Barbra Streisand), as I was suddenly consumed with sheer panic.

Still sitting in the chair, I'd phoned this week's port of call - Ad Lib in Glasgow city centre - with a view to booking a table for later that night.

'Sorry, I'm afraid we're not open tonight,' said the voice of doom at the other end of the line. 'We're closed for a private function.'

Not exactly what you want to hear when your deadline is first thing the very next morning.

'Any chance you could squeeze me in at lunchtime?' I pleaded.

'No problem - see you in about half an hour.'

One quick taxi ride later, I'm in Ad Lib. Dressed, I must admit, like a 'paraffin lamp' (old joggy bottoms, trainers and a hooded top) and, having not had time for a shower, I'm now running the risk of all those little loose hairs floating down onto my grub. Yeuch.

At least that's something my old pal Liam hasn't had to worry about for a good number of years.

Last time big Liam went for a haircut, the barber gave him 'something for the weekend' - it was a pair of tickets for a Suzi Quatro concert.

He works just around the corner from Ad Lib, which was handy. And he's a civil servant - which is even handier. Well, it meant there was no way I was ever going to interrupt him while he was in the middle of something important.

After taking our seat, we reminisced about the last time Liam reviewed a restaurant with yours truly. What a scream.

It was a fish joint in Aberdeen and Liam's lips inflated like a rubber dinghy after a sudden allergic reaction to a prawn sauce. Honestly, all the way back home to Motherwell, it was like being chauffeur-driven by the secret love child of Mick Jagger and Lesley Ash.

Anyway, folks, Ad Lib bills itself as a modern American diner and I bet it was a great crowd puller throughout the school summer holidays.

You see, kids eat free until 6pm. Terrific news for parents with a tight grip on the purse strings. And even better news, perhaps, for any hungry weirdos who enjoy cutting about town in the old St Trinians gear.

Located slap-bang in the heart of the city, no more than 50 yards from Central Station, it was no surprise to find Ad Lib absolutely heaving at lunch time.

Particularly as it was bucketing ae outside. What's the weather been like? Another downpour and I reckon Noah will be forced out of retirement.

Ad Lib strikes me as a good place for a quick business lunch or somewhere to enjoy a bite to eat while blasting the shops. However, we were in danger of dozing off. Can someone please explain why they were showing cricket on the telly?

The menu will definitely kick the old taste buds into action. Garlic and chive tiger prawns with crusty bread, sausages with creamy mash, chargrilled pork ribs, plus, of course, the gourmet burgers I've heard so many Glasgow folk talking about.

Yes, there's undoubtedly an awful lot to enjoy at Ad Lib, but here's something you're going to need before sitting down - an extremely strong stomach.

Minging, honking, bowfing, ganting - I'm still struggling to find the best Scottish adjective to describe the tables.

They all have grooves along the top, you see. Grooves which clearly capture any passing food stuffs - and they keep it there. Call me old-fashioned, but when I'm trying to eat my lunch, I really don't want to stare at old, congealed scraps of food that look as though they've been gathering dust - not to mention bacteria - for about five years.

Seriously, I urge whoever is in charge to address this problem immediately. In fact, on behalf of all future customers, I insist upon it.

New tables are highly recommended - minus any decorative grooves this time, - but even some tablecloths would cover the cracks, hide a multitude of sins and allow people to eat their food without gagging. Please, sort it out now.

It would be a shame not to, as we thought the food at Ad Lib was extremely good.The Mexican chicken kebabs had an excellent charcoal-grilled flavour and all three skewers were busy with good quality breast meat.

No complaints either about the Caesar salad - particularly as there were no anchovies in it.

Does anybody honestly like those horrible little things?

I give a tenner every month to the World Wildlife Fund (just think of all the great work they do in Airdrie), but I'd cancel my direct debit if I ever heard they were campaigning to save the anchovy.

Main courses? Liam's tagliatelle with roast chicken, pesto and red onion was 'fantastic'.

And, if his good lady wife Susan could please look away now, I can tell you he went on to say: 'Its nothing like the crappy microwave stuff I get at home that's all stuck together.'

Meanwhile, I tried the tuna burger and it was fab. A well-marinated fillet of chargrilled fish topped with sweet chilli, lettuce and cucumber, served inside a crunchy, toasted bun and with loads of fresh salad on the side. A perfect lunch and no time for dessert.

Liam was heading off to the gym for a leisurely swim before return to work and, if that doesn't convince you that he works for the civil service, here's the final proof - even though I was paying the bill, he still asked for a receipt.


Address: 111 Hope Street, Glasgow Tel: 0141 248 6645 Open: seven days, noon - 10pm Bill for three: pounds 32Food: 4/5 - don't miss the burgers Service: 4/5 - very quick and efficient for a busy place Decor: 0/5 - any chance of a sick bag at each table?

Toilets: 3/5 - no complaints Value: 3/5 - reasonable city centre pricesTotal: 14/25


EATING OUT: Ad Lib; Wash or go:; The food in Ad Lib lives up to its good reputation, but is let down by the filthy tables; All day food: Ad Lib is popular with both lunchtime and evening diners
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 21, 2004
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