DRAM caught up with R Group restaurant and bar owners Rahul and Pravesh – A.K.A Bubbles – Randev to hear all about their latest venture – The Larder in Bearsden.
Rahul and Bubbles Randev’s newest venture at Kirk Lane, right in the centre of Bearsden’s bustling little town centre, The Larder, brings the number of venues the brothers operate to five and includes outlets in Bishopbriggs, Lenzie and Milngavie.
Rahul explains that this time they wanted to do something distinctively different from their other offerings, “There was already a pub, a bistro and an Italian here. There was no point in doing something that was the same. So, we came up with the idea of a restaurant based around small plates.”
Before it became The Larder, the venue was formally Spanish restaurant Las Ramblas. The brothers admit to having had their eye on it for quite some time. Rahul explains, “It’s funny because we tried to buy this place back when it was a Chinese restaurant and owned by Sanjay Majhu of Harlequin. We met him at a football game and tried to buy it, but we couldn’t do a deal on it. He then took it back from the leaseholder and turned it into Las Ramblas. Last year I met him in the street, and said ‘if you’re ever thinking of selling it then we are interested. We must have caught him at the right time because he said ‘right here’s what I want for it’ and once discussing it with Bubbles we agreed on a price.”
The venue took six months to develop which included ripping everything out. From the new front-facing windows, to the terrace, all the ceilings, walls and floors. This time the brothers used Iain MacLeod for the design, who previously did the design for the pair’s Milngavie restaurant Garvie & Co. But as Rahul explains, “We do have input in to all of the designs for our venues. This was no different. But while at Garvie’s we invested in an abundance of wood panelling and tiled floors and marble bar tops, The Larder’s design is more stripped back.” It is almost as if they have taken the fuss away, as seen in the small plates, and used this for the design too. The brothers confess that over the years they have learned hard lessons about designing their venues. Says Rahul, “We have learned a lot over the years when he comes to designing our places. For instance, when we did The Richmond (which is now leased out to Tribeca) we had custom made doors and when we went over the costs we realised we spent £30K on them. Doors? People don’t care about doors. We could have spent much less and still put in decent doors and painted them. We realised you don’t need to go to that expense with the details. Most people just see a general space. You learn as you go and you don’t tend to repeat your mistakes.”
The new restaurant is bright and light with solid herring style oak flooring, and oak-like tables. Severino’s did all the flooring, supplied the fixed seating and the tables and chairs. The tables and the floors, and some of the chairs, all have a varying degree of grey tinge which makes it all look very tonal.
Above the tables there are Edison light bulbs which are linked via orange cabling. The orange theme is continued in the soft leather banquettes and booth seating, but this time in a more muted burnt orange. Classic Brentwood chairs spray painted grey fill in the spaces and manage to make a classic pub staple look invitingly chic. Large round lights loom down from the ceiling and Bubble’s admits that it was meant to be skylights, but they didn’t like the glass when it came and changed it to these frosted panels, that give a gorgeous soft glow of light when it is dark.
Mirrors all around the walls and leafy, green plants complete the design, with almost something quite ‘Pinterest’ about the entire aesthetic. All of the metal and glass, we are told, are provided by Glass and Metal Fabricators who Rahul and Bubbles say they always use.
The entire menu is made up of small plates and is described on the menu as minimally as the food – with just the ingredients being listed. However, the minimalism doesn’t mean it’s skimpy and the dishes pack a real punch in terms of flavour. Rahul explains: “It’s for people who are into their food. It’s not fine dining, but it’s good strong flavours. We recommended three plates at the start, but now we’ve upped the portions after getting feedback from the customers”.
And, from the way that Rahul describes the desserts you can certainly tell that he is a believer in his own food, “The desserts are to die for, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my place. They are actually the nicest things. The set raspberry, cream and honey is absolutely exquisite. The chef makes all his own ice cream and accompaniments.”
Throughout talking to the Praveshe’s it is clear that both of them have a real passion for the locality. The pair talk about their activism for local investment through Rahul’s position on East Dunbartonshire trade board. Indeed they could almost share the title of ‘The Kings of Suburbia’.
Nonetheless, life in the suburbs is not always ideal. Says Rahul, “We experienced great success with Garvie’s & Co at the beginning, but then there was a little bit of a lull. Now it has picked up again. I think a lot of suburban restaurants experienced a bit of a lull when the alcohol limit for driving in Scotland changed. Most of our places are suburban and people who would normally come on a weeknight and have a glass of wine and dinner were deciding not to, because they couldn’t drive the next morning. They weren’t really drinking during the week anymore, then at the weekend they were probably going into town. We’re in Bishopbriggs, Lenzie, Milngavie so across our whole estate we did see that locally people weren’t coming out during the week.”
But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as the dip seems to have only been temporary, Bubbles adds: ‘The lull seems to be over as we have picked right up. It was always our strong point that we were busy during weekdays and we’re definitely busy again.”
So, what’s next then for the dynamic duo? The former Carriages in Lenzie has been going through a 10-month revamp and is expected to open next month as The Grove. The project has taken longer than both expected as they are putting on a roof terrace and have had issues with accessibility. After that, it’s looking towards the big city for the pair as they finally are starting to think about the Café Mao site that they have in Glasgow.