Buck’s Bar


WHAT IS that, I say to Luca, as an electric guitar comes pouring from the sound system filling our booth and heads with sounds of the 1970s. Umm, Black Sabbath, he replies, as we face each other, knees almost touching, through the red neon gloom that hangs throughout Buck’s Bar.

Wow, Ozzy Osbourne still down with the kids, I think, as yet more youngsters troop in here past a giant illuminated Americana sign that states: Sit Down, Mask Up, Wash Your Buck’n Hands. Though hopefully not in that order.

We’re inside this early evening because there isn’t a free table to be had out there on the suddenly glamorous Trongate as the searing June sun sends Glasgow a-sizzling.

We’re also here because Buck’s Bar (Trongate) and fried chicken is a bit of a thing apparently. Surprising, to me anyway. Hang on though, this could be why. Guilt-Free Chicken our menu has emblazoned across the top. Leading me to wonder if we’re about to learn that no chickens have been harmed in the making of our fried chicken. Which seems a tad unlikely.

Or perhaps the chicken we’re about to eat have been raised, a la Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, to volunteer themselves happily for the chop. It’s neither. They’re simply fried in rapeseed oil, more vitamin E yah, reduced cholesterol, man.

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Okay, it’s still not great being a chicken. And you may yet feel guilt but they can certainly be appetising.

A platter arrives with a huge, light and freshly-made waffle underpinning three pieces of crisp golden chicken marinated, we’re promised, for at least 24 hours in buttermilk and the whole shooting match draped in sweet, salty maple syrup.

And here comes another platter, this time with soft white bread and pickles carrying Nashville hot chicken. Warning Seriously Addictive, cautions the menu, “a local speciality from Nashville Tennessee”.

Is now a good time for me to point out my crackpot theory that fried chicken is probably originally a Scottish dish transported to the States hundreds of years ago? Check out what Johnson and Boswell have to say about food on the isle of Skye circa 1775.

Okay, Glesga fried chicken doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Anyway, moving on. The first things we taste are actually vegetarian buffalo cauli bites, tempura florets, tangy buffalo glaze and a punchy blue cheese dip. These have flavour, dry crisp texture, too.

Then wings with a Chinese salt ’n’ chilli glaze, crisp, not bad.

I’ll say this: Buck’s leave no sauce unturned in the search for the perfect chicken flavouring. Cantonese, suki sauce, habanero, scotch bonnet, kung pao, mac sauce, Korean, tonkatsu, herb mayo tex-mex and BBQ all make appearances on the menu.

And that Nashville, level two heat, please, has enough chilli oil through it to make me pause, breathe deeply and whisper to Luca: this is pretty hot.

Chicken is made with Buck’s special recipe crust, apparently. It’s certainly crisp that crust but it’s the classic version we have to turn to, to get an idea of what the special recipe actually is.

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Er, flour, salt? I don’t get anything else in terms of flavour. Nobody is challenging KFC’s spice blend in here, as far as I can see.

And the chicken, seeming to be largely breast fillets, is also pretty dry and rather tough whether it’s been soaked in buttermilk or not.

To be fair: I don’t think Buck’s are holding themselves out to be any sort of artisanal fried chicken joint, currently all the rage in the States.

There’s certainly nothing about sourcing either and so I’m assuming that all these sauces are commercially supplied.

Workmanlike, then, is how I’d describe the fried chicken, crisp, available in many burger variations too, with umpteen sauce combos and in pretty large portions for the money.

This place is jumping this evening, every seat that we can see filled, the pavement tables crammed outside too. They’re obviously doing something right.

Buck’s Bar

96 Trongate


0141 648 4843

Menu: Buttermilk chicken burgers. Classic fried chicken, Tennessee hot... yadayada. It’s a currently in-vogue chicken place. 3/5

Service: Absolutely fine, took the orders, brought the food. It’s not the place for much else. 3/5

Atmosphere: Ozzy Osbourne on the sound system, theme bar signs everywhere, low, low lighting. It has a popular vibe. 4/5

Price: Platters of chicken starting at £9.95, sides from just over £3, wings starting at £4.50. Good value. 4/5

Food: They say soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours and coated in a special recipe crust. It can be tough and most of the flavour is from the sauces. 5/10