Rarely do you dine in a restaurant and want to instantly book a table for the next day. That is what happened when I dined at the new restaurant located in the basement of Glasgow Central Station on Thursday evening.
The restaurant & bar obtains its name from its historical namesake Alston Street which was formerly the main street in Grahamston, the old village just outside of Glasgow’s boundaries which was demolished in 1879 to make way for the Caledonian Railway Central Station, now better known as Glasgow Central Station. Only two buildings from the original Grahamston village still exist in Glasgow and these are the Rennie Mackintosh Hotel and the Grant Arms pub located next to the Hielanman’s Umbrella on the Union Street side.
Walking down the rather colourful staircase, I was met with a Timorous Beasties wall mural, the open kitchen and one of the waitresses showing me to the rest of the guests. First impressions? Industrial Chic.
Meeting the rest of my dining guests, I was offered the bar’s signature gin cocktail ‘1873’ which is named after the last time anyone saw the main Alston Street running through Grahamston. The cocktail is made from Caoruun gin, blueberry jam, lemon juice and topped with some Champagne and blueberries. I’m not the greatest fan of gin, in fact if I could pick one of the worst spirits in the world, gin would be just that. However, upon taking a sip of the cocktail, I couldn’t taste any gin. Thumbs up for me.
After chatting to the guests, it was time to do a brief gin tasting with resident “gin-noisseur” Chris. We sampled three different varieties of gin; Caorunn, Pickering’s and The Botanist. Chris talked us through the history of gin aka Mother’s Ruin along with the difference between the different types of gin on the market. Alston Bar & Beef house 55 different types of gin and 12 are Scottish. From those, they have created 10 perfect serve cocktails catered to suit everyone… even me.
I took a little sip of Caorunn and it had a pleasant after taste. It was a drier type of gin compared to the other types which sadly I did not like. I do hold my hands up and say that I don’t like gin but at least I tried and reconfirmed my hatred, except for the 1873 cocktail which was lovely and I would certainly order that again. The others around me on the other hand loved the gin, so I guess I’ll have to take their word for it.
The main attraction for me though was the food and it certainly did not disappoint. On our table was a personalised menu with my name on it along with a six course menu of various dishes we were going to sample from the main menu. Just by reading the menu, you could certainly tell a lot of thought had been put into the food but that was just the start!
Our first dish was Steak Tartare with Quails egg yolk, crouton & olive oil served with a perfect serve Gin Cocktail. The Steak Tartare was very light, fresh and perfectly seasoned. The raw quails egg yolk perfected the tartare and the added crouton gave it a wonderful crunch. A perfect introduction so far.
Ham Hock Roulade, pickled beets & cauliflower puree followed shortly after. The meat was tender, full of flavour and the pickled beetroot was a welcome addition. I loved the flavour combination between the saltiness of the ham hock and the sweetness of the beetroot.
Next we were served a visually stunning dish of Pan Fried Scallops with pea puree, Parma ham & black pudding. This was by far one of the greatest dishes I’ve had in a long time. The plump scallops were seared perfectly and the Parma ham works impeccably well. Together with the rest of the elements, it turned the dish into mouthwatering perfection for me. This is a must order for me.
It was then time for our main dish; a 14oz Bone in Rib Eye Steak served with Fries, a selection of butters (Garlic and Cafe de Paris) and sauces (Peppercorn and Bearnaise). First thought? I have an entire cow infront of me. The restaurant uses a Montague oven which reaches extremely high temperatures and when cooking steaks, it allows the meat to be tender and juicy inside while being perfectly charred on the outside. The meat is from J. Gilmour & Co Ltd, an independent family run business established in 1946 specialising in the supply of high quality meats and more specifically “Tweed Valley” dry hung beef from the Scottish Borders. I asked for my steak to be cooked medium rare and it came just that. It was succulent and the marbling of the meat added to the flavour. If I had to pick one criticism, it would be that the steak had a little too much fat for me on a few of the edges, the fat was very soft though which made it easy to cut away. I’ve just not been a huge fan of fat in meat after a choking incident as a child. Due to the size of the steak and the courses already eaten, I couldn’t finish the steak but I aim to make it a mission very very soon.
After a welcome comfort break, we were served dessert which was a deconstructed version of Pear Crumble. It consisted of a poached pear, with some crumb dusting along with more crumble scattered on the plate and a small jug of Creme Anglaise. The pear was poached whole and when eating with a spoon, was tender and cut away gently. This was a beautifully executed dish and left you wanting more.
Lastly, we were offered a cheese platter from George Mewes along with quince, grapes & oatcakes. I sadly never tried any of this as I was so full but the rest of the guests at the table thoroughly enjoyed it.
Overall, the meal was incredible. If I had to sum it up into two words, it would be Gastronomic Perfection. It was honestly one of the best meals I have ever had. I wanted to instantly book a table for the next evening but sadly already had prior arrangements. It is a stunning venue, the staff were extremely knowledgeable and friendly not to mention the incredible food by 28 year old Head Chef Nicol Robertson. His vision along with the management have turned this forgotten Central Station basement into one of Glasgow’s Top Destinations.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Alston Bar & Beef as a guest in return for a review. Whilst my meal was complimentary, I was under no obligation to write a positive review and my comments reflect my true experience on that evening.
Alston Bar & Beef
79 Gordon Street
Glasgow, G1 3SQ
Tel: 0141 221 7627
Win a fantastic sharing platter or Porterhouse steak for two at Glasgow’s newest steak and gin venue – Alston Bar & Beef.
Offering over 10 different cuts of beef on its menu, this lucky winner will win their choice of either a Porterhouse steak or the assiette of beef.
The Porterhouse comes in a range of sizes to suit every appetite and is the biggest steak on this comprehensive meat lovers menu. The 35-day dry-aged Porterhouse is a hand-picked Aberdeen Angus cross Limousin Scotch beef from accredited farms in Ayrshire, East Lothian & Aberdeenshire. It is cooked to perfection in the specialist Montague oven, ensuring all the flavours are sealed in.
The assiette of steak includes gourmet cuts of 40-day dry-aged flank, hanger and iron steaks. Weighing in at an impressive 700g, this truly is a plate for steak lovers. Each of the cuts offer a different texture and flavour, and all have been cooked to perfection.
The prize also include a bottle of wine to share.
- Food - 10/1010/10
- Service - 10/1010/10
- Value - 10/1010/10