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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Any Port... Part 2

The Quarter Gill, 232 Dumbarton Road, Partick, G11

As I was saying…a good time to get out and away. Not far away though, across the road to The Quarter Gill. A place given its own facelift only two or three years back. A good attempt was made with discerning use of dark wood; fairy lights; ornate, contemporary wallpaper and an extended seating provision to attract a younger, slightly more style-conscious clientele. Nothing too drastic though, nothing that would alienate previous regulars nor detach the pub from its community heritage and connection to the locale.

The refurb was largely successful, attracting a diverse (in Partick that’s a relative term) range of punters. Any time I’ve been in the atmosphere has been appropriate for that particular time; midweek afternoon, quiet Sunday evening or New Year’s Eve – when a friend of mine made a celebrated big mistake with a large, local lady in red.

We entered this Saturday to be greeted by a sweating, heaving mass of folk which rivalled the frantic biz of the above-mentioned Hogmanay. I had squeezed in beside the bar counter beside a pillar bound in rope – a feature more suited to the establishment over the road - before I realised the reason for the buzz and heave: karaoke. Great. Out of the frying pan…

But regular readers will realise I’m not unduly anti-social (how could that be possible after all) but an early Sunday morning start was crowding into my head and no amount of singing nor liquor was going to shift it. I looked across at the help-yourself fridge of specialist German beers – Krombacher, Bitburger, Kneitinger amongst the number if my notes serve me well - installed in that afore-mentioned refurb and thought about selecting one, but the throng prevented even that option, so it was cooking lager and a short for The Muse.

After a couple of songs we retreated to the small side area; quieter with a decent number of tables. We couldn’t get a table but were happy standing watching the various acts and other goings-on. There were plenty of staff around too, the night’s popularity evidently anticipated. And talking of staff and observing let’s go on to the toilets. Here they are absolutely tiny. When in party mode you hardly notice and are even taken in with the sociability (yeah, honestly) small conveniences bring.

The female equivalents are even smaller, easily dominated that Hogmanay by the lady in red, who declared to everyone without eyes that her posterior was massive and they would have trouble getting past it. It was hard to disagree, I was informed.

But The Quarter Gill has re-established this area as a decent place to do more than just enjoy a quiet pint, karaoke or not. Sure, a lot of the punters will head into a club in town or along to Boho for the main course of their night but for some it would be right here. Kind of balances up the options for local folk, and we all know that balance benefits everyone.

No partying for us though, we were off within the hour to The Lismore/Lios Mor, again a short distance, across the edge of Mansfield Park. In some ways The Lismore and its sister The Ben Nevis are the inspiration for the transformation of The Quarter Gill and many other bars over the last decade. Traditional materials like slate, granite, copper and Scottish timber utilised within a contemporary design structure; modern Scotland encapsulated inside four walls. The high standards they set have inspired but they can also inhibit the design attempts made by other bars since.

Settling in to a corner seat in the lower bar, the relative excesses of the Gill were soon just a memory as the more sophisticated, even intellectual, atmosphere of The Lismore- established over many visits - re-asserted itself.

But it was quiet in here at back of ten on a Saturday night. No music, as standard. The only music here is fiddle sessions and occasional more official gigs outside during the West End Festival. Yeah, quiet tonight; boring, even. Just depends on your mood.

Our Bacchanalian instincts were on hold this evening, with no intention of taking it further. The party in The Quarter Gill would continue without us, it would continue whatever. And there’s no better recommendation than that.

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