I CAN’T SAY that I have many gastronomic memories of Glasgow. Everywhere I seem to turn, the city reminds me of my (failed) attempts to conquer the music world rather than the culinary one. It wasn’t that my band (Calm as the Colour) weren’t any good or didn’t achieve success; we just didn’t become the biggest band in the world as I had dreamed. Luckily, I have this restaurant reviewing gig to fall back on, and tonight we dine at the newly opened 1051 GWR.
The building was designed by the renowned Glaswegian architect Sir J J Burnet, and is steeped in history. Opening in 1897, the building originally functioned as Kelvinside Station, part of the Glasgow Central Railway Network, but closed in 1942 when it was deemed “too remote”. In recent times, the structure has hosted various restaurants, but now returns to its roots. As it transpires, this is no bog-standard train station caff.
Tastefully decorated inside, the lighting is warm without being too low, which was appealing given the atrocious weather of late. A diverse mix of young and old customers alike created a positive atmosphere you could feel a part of, with the layout affording you privacy at the same time. A passion for craft beer, particularly Glasgow brewed, was obvious, with a long range of shiny new taps jostling for position behind the bar, and a regularly rotated railway station-style menu board installed to assist with your selections.
I begin with hot smoked salmon with potato salad (£5.95) from a starters menu that doubles as a small plates one. It’s an extensive offering that caters for all needs whether it be bar bites to the more refined, gastropubby options such as scallops with black pudding or moules marinères. The presentation was neat and the portion size ideal to start a meal. The moist fish was tamed perfectly by the creamy mayo, with a little mustard dressing seasoning the dish whilst adding a little warmth at the back of the palette. The potatoes and crunch from the chives popped up to bring texture and complete a simple, well-balanced plate of food.
Sarah opted for king prawns in tempura batter with mango, ginger and chilli salsa with sweet chilli dip (£5.95). This is one of these dishes that always promises so much, yet gets massacred time and time again, so much so that I just never risk ordering it. However, faith was restored when three plump shellfish in an impressively light-looking batter arrived. I like seeing knife skills displayed on a plate and that was apparent in the neat little salsa accompanying those deliciously sweet prawns.
The batter was as good as it looked with the meaty seafood juicy and flavoursome. I’m impressed.
The mains menu comprises of both a grill and mains section with specials displayed above the bar. I select pan-fried bavette of Scotch beef with café de Paris butter and beef dripping chips (£15.95). Bavette can be a tricky customer if not given due care; thankfully it was on this occasion, with pink meat bursting with notes of beefiness that my knife sailed through with consummate ease. The butter tasted sublime, but it was clearly just retrieved from the chiller, meaning the temperature of the beef wasn’t maintained as long as I’d have liked. Nothing a quick flash under the salamander or a couple of minutes out of the fridge wouldn’t resolve. It did make a mean sauce to dunk the crispy chips in, which was an added bonus to an enjoyable dish.
Over the table, Sarah mix and matched grill options, ordering two lamb cutlets, a featherblade steak with a side of gratin dauphinoise, and red wine jus for £13.95 all in. The lamb was sufficiently caramelised on the outside and perfectly medium-rare in the middle, with the featherblade executed just as accurately. The quality of the meat throughout was obvious from the depth of flavour from each product.The real star was the side orders: the dauphinoise was a rich, indulgent portion of heaven with a wonderful cheesiness to them, with the honey roasted carrots (£2.95) a sweet and earthy indulgence in themselves. We loved the hint of caraway that just added another well-thought out dimension.
All good things must end and I left with a sticky toffee pudding (£4.95) that I’d be pretty proud of. It was so light and fluffy that I could have made room for another slab. Sarah enjoyed caramelised apple tart tatin with salted caramel ice cream for just under £6. The pastry was crisp on the outside with a little soggy bit in the middle that I actually enjoy more. The apples held up well rather than being reduced to mush, while the sweet and saltiness from the ice cream harmonised with the sharp fruit.
Opening times: Mon-Sun 10am-12am
Address: 1051 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 0XP
Phone: (0141) 339 5575