Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Glasgow 2 - The babbity bowser

The Bowser is a gastro pub serving some interesting Scottish fare. We went for a late lunch because we were still jet lagged, arriving at about 3:30 just before the post work Friday rush. A nice room with plenty of natural light off a cobblestone street, grey blue Nordic charm. Patio,, weather permitting.
Two pints of Titanic Sun Deck, a nice mildly acidic refreshing beer, to start. Robin didn’t want to eat too much so I ordered him two apps, Cullen skink to start and a potted hare as a second. I had the cullen skink as well and duck sausage with red wine gravy and mash..
We didn’t really know what to expect with the skink, described as a smoked haddock soup, but it turned out to be an amazing lightly creamed broth with large chunks of smoked haddock and potato floating in it. The broth was ideally smoky, the potatoes were perfectly toothsome and the chunks of haddock were large and tender. Double the portion and send us some bread and this would have been a great lunch, especially considering the fact that what followed was somewhat lacklustre.
The best thing about the duck sausages was everything except the sausages. The mash was hot and flavourful and I’m a sucker for mash. Minus the cullen skink I could live on buttered mash. The red wine gravy was sweet, sour and punched up with rosemary. Chopped onion, leeks, and celery made an appearance for good measure. Not the best gravy on earth but definitely some good stuff. The sausage however.. oh what a let down. Well, to be fair, the portion of two nice sausages was encouraging, the meaty flavour was all winner, but hardly ever have I met a sausage so dry. This sausage had been boiled before noon, possibly a day or two prior, and had sat, probably loosely wrapped, in the fridge. Now, this sausage was definitely in need of grease when it was being made, but the subsequent treatment did it no favours. Had it been freshly cooked it might have had a chance, unfortunately it crashed and burned.
Robins potted hare was a bit better but not what I had expected potted hare to be. Potted whatever, to me, is like a rillette; cooked meat covered in grease. Apparently at the Bowser potting involves copious amounts of aspic. I didn’t really mind. The aspic was garlicky and meaty if a bit more generous than we would have liked. There wasn’t that much meat involved to begin with and, as Robin turned up his nose at the aspic I got to eat what may have been an unfair share. The meat was a wee bit dry, but all in all some good flavours. The baby greens salad that accompanied was unremarkable, as were the cornichons and the chutney that were probably storebought..
The opening sentence of this review was originally: “One of the best meals we had in Glasgow..”, but after I wrote the review out I realised that this was far from true. The meal wasn’t expensive, about 17GBP for all the food. The cullen skink really was a great dish and the atmosphere and setting were pub-like and convivial. The service was crap and my condolences to the waitress because to all evidence someone close to her must have died earlier in the day to judge from her total lack of warmth and enthusiasm. Don’t smile if you can’t, but surly silence, especially in response to a “Thank you” from a customer, kind of dampens your already wet charm.
So go for a pint (which you obviously order at the bar) and get some soup. Or even better, try the upstairs resto (Scottich I think it’s called) a kind of French-scottish fusion resto open for dinner. We had a look at the menu and it looked encouraging, as did the space.. very bistro-y.

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