Cocktail & Burger323 Sauchiehall Street,
0141 353 0953
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
Review published on 29/07/2013 © Sunday Herald
And so we escape the humid evening heat by dodging under a bold black awning and down steep stairs to the land of the two-for-one. Lest you scoff - which we are about to - its cool, deep and kinda dark down here.
All around, tanned people wander to and fro as the music hips and hops, and there are even baseball caps bobbing about down here, deep under Sauchiehall Street - but in a youthful, trendy way. Amid wood-topped booths and work from local artists, we consider Glasgows latest testament to the sudden fashionability of burgers.
The menu promises burgers from beef, beef from cows, cows from farms, and farms from round here somewhere or something as vaguely reassuring as that. But well come back to the burgers.
Joe and I have already had a surreal exchange with a waitress over the drinks order. It went like this. She takes my drink order, then takes Joes order, then asks me again what I want to drink, then she walks to the till and asks Joe what he ordered to drink, oh, say 20 seconds ago. We look at each other. We look at her. She smiles. We all laugh. Amazingly, everything will arrive as ordered.
Moving on, are there mussel beds in Oban Bay these days? There may be because by way of a distraction, a side-show, a warm-up for the burgers, weve just been given Oban mussel popcorn. Puffed balls of tempura-style batter with a dank, fishy, salty taste. Erm, good idea but somehow the mussel flavour isnt right at all. Have they been destroyed by the cooking? Who knows, but its not a good dish.
Stealth fries next. Decent, thin and crispy chips with salt and pepper and, nope, not even the waiting staff can explain the name. A separate portion slathered with chilli and manchego cheese should be all wrong but is more than OK in a slippery, slidey, cannot-stop-eating-them way.
So far were on easy pub food ground - nothing that would test anyone armed with a deep-fat fryer and a big fridge. But there are high hopes for the two-for-one hotdogs, billed as a Scottish exclusive from an award-winning London supplier. See how they did that vague supply thing again?
Anyway, the Polish dog is thick, fat, crisp-skinned, smokey-tasting from the paprika possibly, and arrives in a toasted bun with pickled cucumber and jalapenos. Not bad at all, though the bun could be fresher. The second one, the badly named Pimp Steak hotdog is so laughably thin and skinny that its dwarfed by the bun and theres simply so little of it theres no taste from the dog.
But burgers are what were here for and theyve arrived. Big, shiny-topped brioche buns contain nothing more threatening than tomato, red onion and a slice of gherkin. Full marks for simplicity. Or is that purity? The burger itself is a patty thats been flattened down while cooking American style and looks seared and juicy, though not quite medium rare as billed.
Is it good? Its much better than the average Glasgow burger but its just too thin for the bun or the stodgy buns just too thick for the burger. Good but not perfect, though it would be wrong not to mention the price.
Two - count em - burgers for £10.45. Thats not far off half the price of a burger in Glasgows current hottest burger joints and the gap in quality and flavour is certainly not five pounds worth.To be fair, price is almost everything in Cocktail & Burger. Fries cost £1.95, those two hotdogs were £6.55 for the pair and a passable three-scoop ice-cream with sprinkles of crumble for dessert costs £2.70. Nowadays thats not to be scoffed at.