Restaurant review: The Meat Bar, Glasgow

The Meat Bar, Glasgow. Picture: contributed
The Meat Bar, Glasgow. Picture: contributed
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If I were a cow, I would not be holidaying in Glasgow this summer. There’s a blood-thirsty revolution going on, with US-style burger, rib and barbecue joints spreading across the city like the marbling in a Porterhouse steak.

The last few months have seen the opening of Buddy’s BBQ and Burgers in the Southside, which is so queues-round-the-block popular that it’s already up-sizing to a 100-seater venue on Pollokshaws Road. Then there’s Burger Meats Bun, Cocktail and Burger and the Chophouse.

Not to mention the Meat Bar. Halfway up West Regent Street, it’s situated in a basement premises with a frontage that’s been stripped to reveal the original shop sign painted in rust red on to the naked brickwork – Splendor Lamp Company, Electrical Lamp Manufacturers.

Inside, there are tan leather diner-style booths, beams made from layered strata of wood and toilets that are as gleamingly pristine as a morgue. The all-male troupe of waiters and bartenders wear white tees and jeans, just like Nick Kamen in the 1980s Levi’s 501 advert. A shame this ain’t no laundrette.

The food offerings are all pretty tempting when you’ve got a trucker’s hunger. I did.

We shared a couple of the sliders (aka mini burgers) – a sriracha chicken tender (£3.50) and a pulled duck leg version (£3.50), both of which came in dinky brioche buns. The former was not-too-hot but smoky, with chipotle mayo, little bits of frazzled onion and a coriander salad, while the latter was sweeter, with shreds of buttery soft fig, flaky duck, a peanut relish and a mild kohlrabi and radishy slaw.

Our third option – from the Starters/Small Plates menu – was a smartly presented patty of shredded pig’s cheek (£5.50), which was pleasingly furry textured and caramelised on the outside. It came with a super-sized and clean-tasting piccalilli of chunky cauliflower, courgette and onion.

All good, but my ginger-rubbed smoky brisket (£9.50), which had been cooked in their imported American pit oven for 12 hours (apparently), was doubly so. Salty, hot and sweet, with a rich and silky bone marrow gravy on the side, this dark shredded meat speed-dialled all my umami buttons (0800 SAVOURY).

It came with a little more of their minty slaw and a tongue-shaped sliver of token toast.

Carb heavy sides were required, and the triple-cooked fries with truffle and parsley (£3.50) were pretty magnificent, as were the crumble-coated and crispy dry rub red onion rings (£3).

We probably shouldn’t have bothered with the deep fried pickles with blue cheese dip (£3.50). I feel that vinegared gherkins are one of the rare things that don’t taste better with an oily coating of batter. Others may disagree.

Our other main – their signature grinder burger (£8). This beast featured a burly and fat disc of oregano-spiked and paprika sprinkled beef, cooked medium pink, and sandwiched into a seeded bun. Its fixings included cubes and strips of nutty iberico chorizo, a blanket of manchego and a tomato compote.

Everything you’d want from a burger (unless you prefer skinny ones, in which case, this is probably not the hang-out for you).

Sweet Things. I found it quite hard to look at those words after all the stuff we’d guzzled. But, after a pause, I managed to nibble daintily on a helping of hot peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice-cream (£4.50). Decent, as was a particularly fruity raspberry New York baked cheesecake (£5).

We would have liked to have tried one of their grisly sounding carnivorous cocktails, which, the waiter told us, are infused with meaty flavours that are harnessed after they freeze stock and remove the fat.

“They’re big in the US, but we’re the first to do them over here,” he added.

As I said, if you’re a cow (or any other form of livestock), stay away from Glasgow.

The verdict

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £49.50

Food - 9/10

Ambience - 8/10

Total - 17/20