It should not be a surprise to residents or visitors that Glasgow has no shortage of bars in the city. More likely to raise an eyebrow is the high quality of bar food in Glasgow City Centre. The smoking ban and changing drinking habits have collided with an explosion of culinary interest among the public. The result is that any bar which wants to see the next decade needs to offer a pretty nifty bar food menu. A pickled egg and a pack of dry roasted no longer cut the mustard.
Glammed up street food
As in other cities, Glasgow has not been immune to the fashion for glammed up street food. Especially the sort of BBQ, burgers, pizza and hot dogs which are associated with our friends across the Atlantic. At the rather cool Black Sparrow, the kitchen serves up some interesting variations on the classic burger. We like the sound of the breaded chicken burger which has been marinated in buttermilk.
Bath Street Palomino places more emphasis on its smokehouse menu. So, while there are sliders and meat grinder burgers, the menu also offers ginger-rubbed brisket, Kansas style pork ribs and hickory smoked chicken, all cooked in their own pit oven.
While in the same geographical and culinary territory, we should also mention Meat Bar on Bath Street. The name may be self explanatory but it doesn’t do full justice to the carnivorous treats on offer here. Being both greedy and a fan of trying a little bit of everything, this scribbler likes their tasting smoked plate which features pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings and crispy beef brisket. Good selection of craft beers too.
Sticking with Bath Street, Bunker is another bar on the party circuit that provides some mouth-watering treats to help counter the cocktails. Yes, they do lots of burgers but they also serve pizza, wraps, fajitas, pastas and build your own salads.
If you like your bar food to come with a healthy serving of rock, jazz and blues then Slouch, again on Bath Street, dishes up sweet sounds plus chilli, burgers, dogs, pizza and lasagne. The bar is open until a crippling 3am with food served until 2am. Great for a big night out. Less handy for work the next day.
None of the above will break the bank but if you are looking for great bar food that is especially wallet-friendly then Lucky 7 has got your number. The decor is charmingly pick ‘n’ mix while main courses start from £5 at lunch and £7.77 in the evening. Moroccan chicken with sweet potato and chilli stew or a mixed pork and bean cassoulet are typical of the hearty dishes on offer.
Now, without wishing to cast any aspersions on the aforementioned bars, there are times when a little more sophistication is needed. On these occasions, you could do a lot worse than heading to Hutchesons. Recently launched, this European-style cafe bar and brasserie restaurant sits in a 200 hundred-year-old A-listed building. The upstairs dining room is all seafood and steaks but the downstairs bar cafe is also rather swish. Try it for breakfast, the house burger or a whole baked lobster.
One Up, linked to the 29 private members club but open to all, is another cosmopolitan spot for a Pimm’s and a teriyaki beef skewer or a Thai green chicken curry. People also like to get dressed up for an evening in the Corinthian Club. Visually stunning, with a huge cupola in the Tellers Bar and Brasserie, the kitchen here serves everything from a triple decker club sandwich to a walloping great tomahawk steak for two. Late opening hours, a dance floor and casino also exert a powerful pull.
The Collage Corner Bar at the Radisson Blu is another good location for people watching. The hotel itself is an architectural eye-opener and the floor to ceiling windows are great for having a swatch at the street life. Especially when you have one of their burgers in one hand and a glass of something chilled in the other.
While the Collage Corner Bar leans towards the minimalist, that is a description which could never be used about Hummingbird on Bath Street. Gourmet burgers form the backbone of the menu but it is the mind-warping decor that really stands out. Hanging seats? Check. Birdcage lighting? Check. Glitter room? Check.
The bars in Glasgow city centre also cater to exotic tastes. In the Thai-styled Palm Sugar bar on Buchanan Street, you can quench your thirst with a Siam Smile cocktail before heading upstairs to the main Chaophraya dining room and feasting on four seasons duck curry or a weeping tiger steak. A pan-Asian menu is also one of the draws at Bar Soba on Mitchell Lane. You want sushi; a Cambodian seafood laksa or a dirty Bangkok burger? They got ‘em along with nifty cocktails and DJ pre-club parties.
If your preferences are more continental, Barca Tapas and Cava Bar in Princes Square does what it says on the tin. We like the montaditos de morcilla con viersa - fresh scallops on sliced Spanish black pudding topped with crisp Serrano ham. You can see Barca making this tapa in the video below as well as chuleta de cordero, lamb cutlets with fresh fig and honey sauce, and garbanzos con espinaces, spiced chickpeas with spinach.
Those who like their food to fly the flag for Scotland’s larder might like to head to The Hope. As well as frieze inspired by the Sistine Chapel, this relatively recent newcomer has a Flavour of Scotland section on its menu. Haggis, neeps and tatties, cranachan plus mac ‘n’ cheese are all present and correct. There is a similar offer at the recently refurbed One Ten Bar and Grill. The menu here has Wee Taste of Scotland options which feature choices such as haggis fritters, smoked salmon and even a deep-fried Mars bar.
Finally, there are times when all you really need, apart from an espresso martini, is a little sweet something. At Horton’s on West George Street, the burgers, pastas, salads and steaks are crowned with a short but potent dessert selection. The Oreo cheesecake is the perfect pick-me-up if you start flagging in the middle of an epic shopping expedition.
All these venues and more have offers on 5pm Dining - you can view them all as well as menus and reviews here.