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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Late Licenses, High Tea and Lighter Fuel

The introduction of the new licensing act – or rather the way Glasgow City Council chooses to apply it – continues to mean late-night venues in the west end and south-side are being denied parity with their city centre counterparts.
Boho on Dumbarton Road has been refused a 3am license for what appears to be arbitrary reasons. No residential buildings nearby and no history of trouble either.
The rot began when the council decided to stop drinking outside in the excellent smoking area. Once again we have an excellent venue hamstrung by an authoritarian local authority.
The Old Printworks on North Frederick Street is up for sale. In a quiet corner of the city centre, this was at one time a Hogshead outlet. Going up that direction from George Square there’s nothing much else around apart from the student union at Strathclyde Uni. Not surprisingly the Printworks is a student hangout, and what replaces it probably will be too.
I watched the rugby on Sunday in Waxy O’Connor’s. As mentioned before Waxy’s offers no surprises but does have plenty of screens and you’re guaranteed the game will actually be on, no matter what football match clashes.
On my way there I popped into the Station Bar on Port Dundas Road. Yes there’s no station in the vicinity. Just like Stromeferry in the northwest highlands where there is no ferry. But there used to be a ferry and there used to be a station. The old Buchanan Street railway station was closed in the mid-60s. It occupied roughly where the Caledonian Uni campus is now. The proprietor from those days recently moved on to The Steps Bar on Glassford Street.
The Station Bar has more of the feel of a neighbourhood place rather than town centre. The immaculate side room by which I entered by was empty but the main saloon was pleasantly busy. The stained glass murals behind the bar are quirky but the tables and chairs here are as if plucked out of someone’s kitchen rather than appropriate furniture for a pub. Still, the barmen were in white shirts and black ties and said cheerio as if I was a regular.
After the match we popped in to Dow’s by Queen Street station to have our previous suspicions about this place confirmed. Apart from some exceptions that I will detail someday, carpets should never be seen in a pub, nor hideous bric a brac on wooden shelves. Add in harsh lighting and you have a pub that fails on many levels. There isn’t even particularly cheap booze to make up for the deficiencies.
From there we got something to eat in the new restaurant Ingram Wynd. It’s billed as being Victorian in character but I felt it more Edwardian, and the Hogarth print further confused things – he being an 18th century artist. But the CM design interior is still pleasing, especially the ornate bars on both levels and the metal gantry walkway to and from the door. Their deconstructed High Tea was enjoyable too.
Metropolitan was quiet. Their Rob Roy cocktail is a good way of finishing off a quiet evening such as this. Smoky and sweet especially with the maraschino cheery at the bottom.
I don’t know what taste the woman on the No.9 bus home was getting dragging on her can of lighter fuel, but she wasn’t for telling.

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