Creedence48a West Regent Street,
0141 353 1301
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
Squats the story
Review published on 14/05/2012 © Sunday Herald
And so to the latest of my occasional dining adventures with Guerino. We once went all the way to Edinburgh, you know. He didnt like it. Too far. Tonight? I can see a flicker of stress on the big mans face as we descend a dark, narrow staircase leading deep into the bowels of West Regent Street in Glasgow.
I can tell you right now what were both thinking: uh-oh. This place is almost impossible to spot. And even then it has all the presence of a 1980s sex shop. What the hell is it going to be like inside on a quiet Thursday night? Dead? Weird? Even more terrifying, dead expensive? Well, there are holes in the tables. I can tell you that. And little buckets under them for tipping our squat lobster shells into.
Theres also some sort of ass-kicking southern music playing on the stereo. Thats yee-ha southern US ass-kicking and not oo-ya southern Glasgow ass kicking, incidentally. Though theyre playing it at oo-ya-thats-too-bloody-loud levels. So loud, in fact, we have to do that toe-curlingly embarrassing thing and ask them to bloody turn it down. Please.
Most surprising of all is the fact its busy really quite busy. Mainly young couples dotted about the place, a table of four women with the obligatory bottle of wine over there. Im surprised because I looked Creedence up on the internet earlier and the minimum prices I saw are ludicrously, dangerously high. And also wrong. As we will discover.
Yet, after we settle into our table, gawp at the hole in it, mutter about the odd art on the walls and check out the other customers, our eyes settle on the blackboard. Does it really say almost £30 for a steak and seafood main course? Guerino is giving me that where-have-you-taken-me-this-time look. Its understandable hes paying.
The business mystery is solved when we notice various customers brandishing bits of A4 paper. A-ha. Were in internet deal-land. Does nobody pay full price in restaurants any more? Its great for us customers but its killing the industry. We dont have a coupon with us but I did look at their Facebook page. And just saying that is enough to get a three-tapas-for-a-tenner deal.
Suddenly the table is full of seafood extremely good-value seafood at that. Squat lobsters come whole, fat, squishy, sweet and lovely, and theres a lot of them. Mussels too from Loch Fyne, plump, delicious and served in a very good winey sauce. Theres a reasonable spiced soup with even more seafood in it, though this time the types of seafood are hard to discern.
Weve so many terracotta dishes with little squidgy prawns in them I forget which is which. Lets just say theyre the paper-shelled pink ones that are so footery youre as well just eating the shells too.
There are crab cakes and squid rings dusted, I think, in salt and pepper. And the whole lot comes to a tad over £50 including drinks. Thats great value. Though, as restaurants have become like Ryanair flights, myself and Guerino do spend some time wondering what everybody else is paying.
Brilliant, then? Um, not completely. The waitresses are pleasant and the feel of the place though a bit dark and inexplicably southern is not unpleasant. Its the cooking. At times its slapdash.
Take the squid rings, which are clearly prepared and battered in the kitchen right here, then dumped in the fryer en masse, making some of them stick together while others remain gluey with uncooked batter. Quite a few of them are too dark, as in burnt. As for the little prawn dishes, overcooked shellfish no matter how much of it you get and how good value it is is still, ahem, overcooked. The crab cakes? Yuk. Change the recipe. Theyre gooey, pasty and utterly tasteless.
A mixed bag overall, then. Yes, these are early days for Creedence. Bringing shellfish to the masses, even internet masses, is a good thing. But it all needs to be right on the night.