The Loveable Rogue

Glasgow

FRANKIE Valli is singing that he can’t take his eyes offa you, while I’m doing the usual dud-table-dance with the waiting staff: doo-doo; doo-doo.

Got a better one, I’m asking, as I stand beside a gloomy two-seater wedged between the fire-door and the passageway, speaker pulsing loudly right above it, looking pointedly at all the other empty (better) tables in here.

“Don’t bring me down I pray,” the Frankster will continue presciently while we settle instead for a four-seater deeper into this little slightly-isolated section; that warm open kitchen, and the main customer action remaining tantalisingly out of sight round a pillar and through a wall.

This is the third time I’ve been in this place in recent years, previously apparently an off-shoot of Glasgow’s smash-hit Six By Nico empire. Every time it has a new name and an exciting new yadayada take on gastro-pubbery and may even have had yet another make-over.

Frankly, Frankie? It always looks pretty much the same to me. And feels pretty much the same. That’s because they’re stuck with the awkward layout and perhaps also because unless you’re seated in that small main section, and they don’t put me there even though I booked and there are empty tables, it still has a slightly awkward ex-pub feel to it.

But let’s get a bit more up-tempo. Tonight’s waiter is a chirpy, cheery young guy, bouncing with enthusiasm over the options, promising, when I cheekily question the price tag for a rabbit and ham hough terrine, (£9 for a starter?), that we won’t be disappointed.

Guess what?

First, though, Garry and I are distracted from our usual chat on what Sean’s up to these days (apparently still in the movies) by plump, puffy, golden and savoury cheesy churros. These are light, full of flavour ding-donging every note on the comfort food scale especially as the sleet is now hitting dank, dark Great Western Road out there.

We’re loading up, too, with hot light wedges of just-seared flatbread from a mound of hummus sparkled with raisin, hazelnut, pomegranate and herbs.

“More flat-bread guys?” asks our waiter as he zips by seeing we still have some humus to finish. Nods of enthusiastic affirmation. Those, I say to Garry, as we push the empty plates back, were just the snacks. Phew. We haven’t even started the meal yet.

A giant Scotch egg arrives, looking like an early Christmas pudding, splitting to reveal black pudding, a spiced apple compote underneath, oozy yolkiness pitching in to underpin the pleasant flavours. It’s a winner, a bit weirdly large but still good.

And now that famous terrine is here with a Mastercheffy-style artichoke barigoule. Clearly and artfully layered, packed with meat, undoubtedly carefully made, (no news if that is in here though), surrounded by squirts and blobs and tangy, sharp pickled artichoke.

But actually? Frankly? It’s still just another terrine. And it’s served still cold, from the fridge presumably, inhibiting the flavour. To me? A little bit meh.

Now, if they have the time to make that, I wonder out loud, why do they not have time to blind bake a proper short-crust pie base? Instead of simply draping some puff pastry across an ashet of ox cheek stew. It’s a pretty good stew mind, the meat moist (but where are all these oxen coming from these days – everyone is serving them), boldly seasoned, even gravylicious.

Looking around tonight, there’s actually only one complete dud on the table: Scrabster monkfish cheek scampi. The batter golden, the portion generous, but the monkfish itself so firm and chewy and overcooked I struggle manfully to get through it.

There’s a peanutty parfait to finish, a bit more banter with the waiter, where he takes the incoming news on the terrine well, and we head off into the night.

The Loveable Rogue then? Will it be third time lucky in the gastro-pub game? Too early to say but it certainly has some pretty good comfort food moments.

The Loveable Rogue

333 Great Western Road

Glasgow

0141 339 3701

Menu: More gastro-pubbery on Great Western Road for this former Six by Nico place, savoury cheese churros, fresh flatbreads with fancy humus, ox cheek pies and terrines all round. 3/5

Service: Straight to a dud table but they had no problem letting me choose another and our waiter was excellent: chirpy, cheery and enthusiastic. 5/5

Atmosphere: Considerable effort has been put into making this former pub feel homely and warm, very difficult with its sections and partitions. Whether it works depends on where you sit. 3/5

Price: The bargains are from the snack menu with fabulous cheesy churros for £5 and fresh flatread and humus for £6. It’s a £8.50 for the Scotch egg, £9.50 for the terrine and £9 for the small monkfish scampi. 3/5

Food: At its very best with those simple comfort food snacks, ox cheek pie was fine if an easy cook, Scotch egg interesting, a little bit Mastercheffy in its ambition. Generally pretty good. 7/10

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