Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pubs of Layclerk #3

Most of the detail on the following post has been taken from my now-defunct website and transferred here for posterity.

Over the years I think it's fair to say I've had the odd drink or two in a fair old number of pubs, and this is a continuation of the occasional series of posts documenting all the pubs in which I've ever had a drink, where I'll try to list as many of them as I can remember together with the occasional "review" or story connected to them.  By nature it's going to be a work in progress for a long time and I'd guess it isn't ever going to be complete, since there's no possible way I'll remember them all, but I'll try to list at least all the ones I regularly drank in or indeed still drink in with various choirs etc.   Feel free to leave comments with any opinions, additions, corrections or extra detail. Important Caveat: Don't forget that sometimes it's been a LONG time and a lot of water's been passed since I've been in some of these places (some of which have had name/management changes, some of which are now closed down) so what I describe relates to how I remember they were back in the day.  All opinions expressed are my own so please feel free to try even the ones I warn against and see if you agree with me.

Baby Grand, 7 Elmbank Gardens, Glasgow

As the name may suggest, there's a baby grand piano in this small bar near Charing Cross in Glasgow.

Incongruously sited in a concrete square between a tower block housing a cheap hostel/hotel, a subterranean railway station, and some God-awful 1970's office blocks, I haven't been in for years but it certainly used to do good Sunday lunches and bar snacks. And you could sit outside and look at the concrete.

Bar Bola, 144 Park Rd, Glasgow

St Mary's Cathedral choir used to drink here, but it was while I wasn't singing with them for a while.  I've been in once though but can't remember much about it except it was very small and crowded, and not terribly pleasant.

The Barleycorn, 1 Low Waters Rd, Hamilton

The nearest pub to a branch of a plumbers merchant in which I worked from 1982 to about 1988.  Not every one, but a lot of lunchtimes were spent in there.  Ah, for the days when I didn't have to drive home from work! 

Very very ordinary at the time, and in February 2009 I rode past it and noticed it was covered in metal shutters so appears to be closed down.

The Bentley Hotel, 19 High Road, Motherwell

In the former home, built in 1874, of Colonel Black of The Cameronians Regiment, the Bentley is now a hotel with a small public bar.  They seem to be connected to Lanarkshire Catering School (I suspect they might in fact be Lanarkshire Catering School) and this means that the food in the restaurant is at least partially, if not wholly, made by trainees.  They do a decent Sunday roast though.

It's across the road from Motherwell Heritage Centre, a good venue for researching family tree stuff if you have ancestry from the area.  Which I have.

The Big Blue, 445 Great Western Road, Glasgow

This has to be a pretty unusual place for a bar.  Situated inside one of the old railway arches almost underneath Kelvin Bridge in Glasgow (think "The Arches" garage in the BBC soap Eastenders) it surprisingly doesn't feel too claustrophobic inside.  There are seats outside if you feel like braving the elements and the often noxious smell of the river.  Good Italian food, as you would expect since it's owned by the same people who own Paperino's in Sauchiehall Street.  And it's right next door to the best Fish & Chip shop in Glasgow.  You just HAVE to try a Special Fish Supper from The Philadelphia.  They are fantastic.  Mmmmmmmm, arteries!

Black Bull Inn, Merry St, Motherwell

Now demolished, this traditional man's-pub was 200 yards from our house when I was approaching and turning 18 and I used to go there with my dad to play darts.  The darts team were reasonably successful and I remember us winning at least one cup!  Happy days!

Bon Accord, 153 North St, Glasgow

Years ago you pretty well had two choices in Glasgow in relation to beer.  Drink the pish which passes for Scottish Heavy, or go to the Bon Accord and drink Real Ale.

Fortunately times have changed and you can now get a decent pint in most pubs, and the Bon Accord is still up there with the best of them, although decor-wise it feels very like another two Glasgow pubs, Hubbards and The Aragon.  I've been on the winning team in the weekly pub quiz here two or three times in the past, but I don't even know if the quiz still happens.

And nowadays all Scottish Heavy is still complete pish, but there are some great Scottish Real Ales too.

Boswell Hotel, 27 Mansionhouse, Rd, Langside, Glasgow

Not too far from the Victoria Infirmary in the south side of Glasgow and known locally as The Country Club, this sprawling building with several bars, a decent beer garden and good real ale was sometimes used by Glasgow Chamber Choir after rehearsing in St Ninian's Church in Glasgow.  Big selection of beers, and pretty good food too.

Braes, 14-18 Perth Rd, Dundee

Quite passable studenty bar with a few big screen TVs for football watching (if you're into that sort of thing) and some comfy sofas.  Decent Deuchar's IPA.

Went here when I was working in Dundee early in 2005, and it became a bit of a local, although it was a fair walk from the flat. 

One of my colleagues, every time we were walking towards it, always said "isn't this a gay bar?"  Well, if it is we never caught anything off the seats, and were never gang raped in the toilets, so that was a narrow escape then!  Fool.

Brandon Bar, 394 Brandon St, Motherwell

A basic man's-pub (or should that be basic-man's pub?) which was for a while my local.  My mum and dad both used to work here too.

Pretty rough to be honest but when you're one of the regulars in a place like that, your parents work there, and every other regular knows you, then it's fine. It has a pool table on which I've had one or two wins in my time!

The Brandon Works, 41-61 Merry St, Motherwell

JD Wetherspoon bar in the centre of Motherwell in what used to be Bairds department store when I were a lad and used to walk past it twice a day enroute to school and back.  I've been a few times with my dad at lunchtime and once to a colleague's leaving do on a Friday night.

Big and spacious, but with sticky carpets.  Usual Wetherspoon food and drink.

Brel, 39 Ashton Lane, Glasgow

Waffles, chocolate, beer, the European Parliament and Jacques Brel the jazz musician - what else do you know about Belgium then?  After the above words appeared on my website in 2007 a colleague told me that Audrey Hepburn, although brought up in England, was born in Belgium.  So there you go! 

I've only ever been in here for a last beer or two after drinking elsewhere in Glasgow's west end, and it's always been full to bursting, and indeed overflowing into the lane outside.  It's in an old barn or cowshed and the floor is still identifiable with its channels for taking the water/piss away, and the walls have those white tiles you might remember from primary school toilets!  Well worth going in just to look at the architecture, but don't do it on a Friday night!

And in the interests of fairness, the Lonely Planet Website says: "Belgium's sluggish surface hides cultural schism and a passion for pleasure.  If Belgium's spotlight on the European stage is a little dim, it's only because its people are rarely boastful. This slow-burning country has more history, art, food and architecture packed into its tiny self than many of its bigger, louder neighbours.  A rich and bubbling vat of beer, chocolate, oil paint and bureaucrats, Belgium gives off the heady pong of the bourgeoisie. But stir the pot a little and you'll find an 'artificial state' roughly made up of two parts Germanic Flemings to one part Celtic-Latin Walloons."

So that's alright then, except I'm not so sure if I fancy sampling the heady pong of the Bourgeoisie, having dealt with the heady pong of the native Glasgow Jakey Bastard for three years when I was a Turnkey!

Bridge Hotel, Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne

In my very brief sojourn with the choir of St John the Baptist, Newcastle upon Tyne, this is where they drank. 

Can't remember much about it other than it's a rambling place with several rooms.  And it must sell Real Ale if a choir drank there! 

A while back I discovered that it was designed by a famous architect, and for the life of me I can't remember his name!  Oh well.

Bunker, 193-199 Bath St, Glasgow

I would have walked straight past this basement bar unless my colleagues had pointed out the door!  Modern decor, fairly spacious, and with Internet access on about 6 wall mounted PCs, we were only in here for one very quick drink so for a while couldn't comment that much on how good it was, however RE and I went there relatively recently, and although the food was fine they managed to lose our order somewhere between the bar and kitchen so it took about an hour to arrive.  I'd probably go back though, just maybe not to eat.

Burts Hotel, Market Sq, Melrose

I don't remember that much about Melrose, apart from the impressive Abbey and Burts Hotel's famous Sunday lunches.  And all I can remember about them is that they are famous.  Can't for the life of me describe what they were like, or whether it was Sunday Roast or Nut Roast (oh, alright then, it certainly wouldn't have been Nut Roast!)

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