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Monday, 26 May 2014

Preview Night at Alston Bar & Beef, Central Station, Glasgow

Have you heard about the new steak restaurant on Alston Street in Glasgow? No? Well let me tell you about it.
I was recently invited to a preview night at new steak house, Alston Bar & Beef, which is located under the main concourse of Glasgow Central train station. Alston Street was the main street of the old village of Grahamston, but the village was absorbed by the construction of Glasgow Central station by The Caledonian Railway Company in the late 1800's. The use of the 'Alston' name is a fitting tribute, by owners Glendola Leisure, to Glasgow's little known but rich history.
My invitation to the preview night had come from PR agency The Big Partnership who deal with the PR for Alston Bar & Beef. I was a little early on the evening so had time to chat with agency girls, Kelly Paterson & Lucy Nicolson, & Euan Robb and Matt McKenna who are Glendola's Group Sales Manager and Operations Manager respectively. Restaurant manager Matthew Mustard was also on hand to welcome myself and the few select guest underground into the restaurant.
Alston Bar & Beef has set out a clear focus of being the best restaurant in Glasgow for quality steaks and the best bar in Glasgow serving quality gin. The first of many drinks served over the evening was The 1873, a wonderfully fresh cocktail made from Caoruun gin, blueberry jam, lemon juice and topped with Champagne. Once again, the name a tribute to the past - Alston Street disappeared from the Glasgow map in 1873.
Once all of the guests had arrived, we were treated to a gin tasting under the watchful eye of hugely knowledgable assistant manager & 'Gin-noisseur' Chris who talked us through the dark history of gin. Gin was once known as "mothers ruin" and the "scourge of society" however these days gin is undergoing a bit of a ginaissance. Alston Bar & Beef has over 50 gins on the bar including a dozen or so that are produced here in Scotland, including the three gins that we sampled, The Botanist, Pickering's and Caorunn.
After the gin tasting, we were shown through to the restaurant where we each had personalised menus waiting at our place setting.
The meal was kicked off with a wonderful Steak Tartare topped with a raw quails egg yolk. The tartare was perfectly seasoned and accompanied by a lovely little micro herb salad. The first matching drink was a perfect serve Citadelle gin, garnished with a cinnamon stick and twist of orange.
Next up was a chunky ham hock roulade, with cauliflower purée and pickled beets. This was another tasty dish, although I thought that the ham hock could have been seasoned a little more. Maybe if the beetroot wasn't pickled, the earthiness of the beets would have been a better balance? This course was served with a wonderful glass of Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This wine is my new favourite!
Our next course was a beautiful presentation of two huge seared scallops with crispy black pudding and Parma ham served on a bed of pea purée. Cooked to perfection with the right balance of sweet from the peas & scallops and the saltiness of the Parma ham, these were the best scallops that I've had in a long time. This was served with a bone dry Picpoul de Pinet which was too dry for me. Of all of the drinks served on the night, this one didn't work for me.
With three courses down, it was time for the main event and we were each presented with a huge chunk of cow! All of the beef served in the restaurant is sourced from family run butcher J.Gilmour & Co Ltd who takes great care in choosing the best beasts available each week at the St Boswells Livestock Market in the Borders. My steak was a 14oz bone in Rib Eye that looked like something that Desperate Dan had ordered. My steak was served medium-rare, just how I like it and accompanied by a little copper pan of chips and an assortment of butters and sauces. I can't believe that I managed to finish the whole steak but I think that is testament to just how well it was cooked. There had been a issue with the wine suppliers in getting the matching Malbec Reserva but the replacement Rioja was a brilliant match to the smoky chargrilled steak.
You would think that at this stage there would be no room for pudding but I didn't want to hurt the chefs feelings by turning down the final cooked course of the evening. The dessert course was crumbled pear with Creme Anglaise, which was actually a well presented deconstructed pear crumbled and custard. The soft poached pear was infused with vanilla and spice flavours, dusted with sweet crumbs and served with a little copper pot of smooth Creme Anglaise. Matched with a glass of Sauternes dessert wine, this was a great way to end a meal.
By this point I was well and truly stuffed? In fairness I was also suffering from the effects of having drunk too much booze. So by the time the cheese board was served, with a selection of cheese from George Mews Cheese, I really couldn't manage to eat anything else. Although I did manage the final drink of the evening which was a barrel-aged Martinez, a blend of Haymans Old Tom Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino cherry liqueur and bitters that are blended and then aged in an oak barrel. This was a potent alcoholic blend that works as a digestif and after all the high end food that had been consumed, I hoped that it worked on me. It was getting late now so I made my way into the night, Making sure to take the goody bag that had been placed at my seat earlier in the evening.
What a night! Great food, quality drinks and staff that know what they are doing, front of house and back. I would like to thank the staff at Alston Bar & Beef for their hospitality, and also thank the girls at The Big Partnership for inviting me along and allowing Gerry's Kitchen to help tell the story of what's going on under the streets of Old Glasgow Town.
So there you have it, my write up of my preview night at Alston Bar & Grill. I can't wait to get back with Nicola for a meal, hopefully we can find a free Saturday night in the coming weeks. Until then, I might need to make do with popping in for a cheeky gin on the way home from work.
Keep up to date with Alston Bar & Beef on Facebook and Twitter.











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