Bar Brett, Glasgow

A SUNDAY evening along Glasgow’s Great Western Road then. Few cars but pavements stowed with happy steamers still partying like it's 1999 or the unofficial end of prohibition.

Right opposite us four women joyously sing – one of them whilst lying down – as this grand old thoroughfare rocks to the thrumity-thrum of open-air drinkers defying the May cold just to be together.

And it is chilly. From where we sit outside Bar Brett, two patio burners struggle to warm even my bald spot and get nowhere near a cooling BBQ Monkfish tail and charred oyster in umami broth.

But good stuff first. A bold and brilliant aged raw beef with soy cured egg yolk, horseradish, Nori (aka prawn) crackers, all sweet, super-tender meat and saucy sesame undertones.

A plate of grilled squid came too. It may not have looked very grilled, a common issue tonight, but was tender and moreish in a sauce of coriander, lemon and chilli that was hand-smoked or curated or whatever the waiter was earnestly explaining before I became somewhat distracted by far more vibrant street scenes.

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Anyway, we’re not even half way through our dinner yet, an order I impatiently placed for both of us whilst Gordon was wandering round Bar Brel (you’re correct: nowhere near) calling my name.

I stopped ordering when I got to the point where I thought the amount of food coming was embarrassing. Only to realise that not only did the waiter genuinely think I had not ordered enough, but he then genuinely advised me I could always order more. Gulp.

They’re really not kidding when they say small plates. And yet, if we hadn’t eaten our way through our whole first order and I hadn’t suddenly asked for an, erm, half grilled chicken, chilli and lime salt, Vietnamese soft herbs I would have left with a very different impression of Bar Brett.

That chicken? Wow. The usual superlatives don’t do its salty, sour, tangy, charred and marvellously spicy herb crust justice. Nor can they explain just how juicy, full-flavoured and superbly tender it was.

I’m not kidding when I say from now on all other restaurant chicken will be looked upon very, very differently. And yet, I’ve got to say Bar Brett is still a bit of a mixed bag.

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Operated by the Michelin-starred Cail Bruich people just up the road and with menus fairy dusted by those very same folk, sometimes it can come over as just a teensy, weensy bit pretentious.

I suppose they’ve got to be when those squid, and that raw beef, say, both light dishes, are rolling in at £12 a pop.

We had a lamb shoulder with black pepper and Alexander seed glaze, confit garlic. That sounded wonderful on paper but was to me a glorified lamb chop in a fairly bland and soupy broth that split opinions at this table until I pointed out it cost £14. No, was Gordon’s instant reaction.

And he wasn’t even paying.

There was £7 worth of charred leeks on an excellent Romanescu sauce but I had similar leeks years ago at Le Cols in Spain and kinda think that for this stunt to work the whole leek has to be charred to a sticky sweetness – not just the outer.

A word about that charring. I had booked a table inside (no drink but no problem) at one of those screened-off Covid horsebox booths everyone has to install these days and momentarily was eyeball to eyeball with the charcoal grill. But was then kindly offered a table outside.

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Yet the monkfish showed zero sign of being anywhere near that grill and was chewy, and in my opinion not filleted perfectly either. At £16. And in a forgettable broth. Hmm.

You need to order sides to complete the plates, even the large ones. Broccoli, cabbage, pea shoots in tahini was fresh and pleasant.

On desserts? Honey mousse, creme fraiche and honeycomb. As good as it sounded. But really, more things should be.

Bar Brett

321 Great Western Road,


0141 334 6265

Menu: Linked to Glasgow’s newly-Michelin starred Cail Bruich and a menu full of leeks over embers, chicken with soft Vietnamese herbs and other flashes of high end style. Interesting. 5/5

Service: Cheery, happy people who not only moved us from the cheap seats but instantly replaced a piece of chicken with a complete half when there was a slight issue. 5/5

Atmosphere: It's a shoe box inside but as all the action is on the streets these days their tables on Great Western Road offer a ringside view of the great post-lockdown beer garden bonanza. 4/5

Price: Difficult post-Covid to see where prices will settle but there’s a contrast between the bar setting and the top end restaurant prices, compounded by small plates that are pretty light. Needs adjusting. 2/5

Food: A couple of brilliant dishes, and that grilled chicken was absolutely outstanding. A good few duffers, too, but well worth a whirl. 8/10