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The Roxy 171

The Roxy 171

171 Great Western Road,
Glasgow,
G49AW

0141 331 1901

Price Rating: 2

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Reviews

Pull the other one

Review published on 23/04/2012 © Sunday Herald

You don’t have to say much more than "contest-winning pulled pork chilli" to get my lardy bits springing off the couch. Mad Men series three is paused at the point where Betty is torturing the kids and I’m off for what should be a swift motorway journey. Almost simultaneously Joe has left the snooker hall mid pot and like me is bearing down rapidly on The Roxy 171.

By the time he bounds in the dirty work is already done. I’ve ordered: one pulled pork chilli please, one of those burgers, and a tortizza – whatever that is – with chicken and chorizo and a chicken tagine. And I’m now idly watching the female chef flipping and frying and heating and heaping in that tiny kitchen over there while the waitress is eating her tea at the bar and chatting away.

At the same time I’m wondering whether that full-fat, full-screen telly hanging over the front door can ever be compatible with quality dining. Outside Italy anyway. Because in Italy, of course, the blaring telly is compulsory in many restaurants.

The answer to this question comes when the volume suddenly soars and every gritty detail of Barcelona v Real Madrid is blasted into the room in high-definition beauty. We’re enjoying it and curiously there isn’t much protest from the mixed tables of awkward couples looking like they’re on their first Match.com date, young women and even a few oldsters.

By then we have eaten the burger. A surprise. It doesn’t take much to top the burger stakes in Glasgow these days and The Roxy 171 does it simply because the meat is full of flavour, well seasoned, tender and by that I mean it’s not a bullet hard patty of mince, and because it comes with freshly made coleslaw and a chunky skin-on potato salad. It’s very good. OK, there’s no sourdough or brioche bun but the plain bun here has what those trendy alternatives are often missing – freshness.

On to the tortizza then. A crisp toasted tortilla with, um, pizza toppings. What can I say? Dry, crisp, and a pretty perfect edible platform for the gooey, tasty mix of cheese, chilli and chorizo. No complaints. In fact we’re pleasantly surprised.

And that contest-winning chilli? Assuming I’m not the only person on the planet that watches cult TV show Man V Food then you’ll know that pulled pork is Americana heaven, shoulder, slow roasted to tenderness, pulled apart by hand, doused with spice and served in diners, dives and drive-ins all over the states. Here? Ah. I should have examined the small print of that award.

Apparently, we’re talking about a winner of the west end’s chilli cookery competition and not the All Alabama Pulled Pork Olympiad. I’m all for contests and even more for little bars and restaurants trumpeting their unique dishes but the taste? Let’s just say Joe thinks it’s chicken. In fact he’s so convinced that we have to have the waitress over to settle the argument. Um. Not much point then in producing your own pulled pork if its taste is swamped by the pretty crude, and way-over-heavy-with-beans chilli it is buried in. It also looked more like leg to me than shoulder.

Sadly, the chicken tagine isn’t going to win any prizes either. Largely because it is far too obvious that the chopped chicken pieces – and they are chicken this time – have been added long after the sweet, chunky tagine vegetables were stewed in a separate pot. And no sign of a tagine – as in the pointy dish – either.

Does this mean The Roxy 171 is bad? Not at all. Full marks for being brave enough not to serve the same mind-numbingly dull menu that everyone else does.

If the pulled pork needs a bit more work – and it certainly does – the burgers were good and pubs that are more food than beer are probably-definitely the next big thing.

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