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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Lunch Review - Alston Bar & Beef, Central Station, Gordon St, Glasgow

After changing jobs a couple of times in the last three years, I'm back working in the city centre of Glasgow. One of the things that I missed most about working in the city centre was heading out for a stroll at lunchtime and trying some of the great value lunch deals that the city centre restaurants have to offer. Of course, with so many restaurants in and around the city centre it can be very difficult to to keep on top of what's good, so when I was invited in to try the new lunch menu at Alston Bar & Beef I jumped at the chance to try out one of Glasgow's hidden gems.
Alston Bar & Beef might have been open for just over three years but it's still unknown to a large number of Glasgow's diners. The restaurant is actually 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.
As it turned out, we couldn't make it along at 'lunchtime' so the management kindly allowed us to have a late lunch and we made our way along on at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. I might have mentioned earlier that lots of people aren't aware of the location of Alston Bar & Beef but that doesn't mean that lots of people aren't on on the secret either and when we arrived, the bar was already very busy with people starting the weekend in style.
The bar at Alston has a great selection of premium spirits but has always focussed on serving high quality gin - in fact, Alston Bar & Beef was probably one of the first bars in Glasgow who seen the tidal wave of gin that was heading our way and set out to serve some of the most perfect 'Perfect Serves' in town.
We grabbed a much needed drink to shake of the stresses of a busy work week with Nicola kicking back with a Dingle Gin & tonic while I relaxed with a cool pint of Yardbird IPA by Greene King. We had recently met the brand ambassador for Dingle Gin and I have no hesitation in recommending this fine gin from County Kerry.
The new lunch menu at Alston offers one course for £10, two courses for £13 and three courses for £16. We both loved the choices on the menu and could even with just a few items to choose from, we still struggled to decide. In the end, Nicola went for the Seared Scottish Trout with Bak Choi, Sesame & Chilli dressing which was a
My own starter of crispy goats cheese, pickled beetroot, heritage tomatoes and salsa verde was a vivid picture of colour and textures. The goats cheese had been coated in breadcrumbs then deep-fried as little bonbons and served atop the beetroot. The saltiness from the cheese was balanced well by the earthiness of the dark beetroot and acidity from the yellow tomoatoes while the salsa verde packed a punchy coriander and parsley flavour.
The main menu currently has a choice of chicken, sea bream or pasta but Alston Bar & Beef is all about the meat and the lunch menu also offers Tweed Valley Steak Frites with a choice of 227g cut of Bavette or diners can upgrade to a 227g cut of D-Rump steak for a £3 supplement.
We both chose steak with Nicola having the Bavette whilst I upgraded to the D-Rump. I'll start now by saying that both steaks were delicious although in retrospect, I preferred the Bavette over my own steak. D-rump is a cut of meat that is being found on more and more menus and although the name suggests it is your typical rump steak, this cut of meat is also known as top sirloin or picanha steak, which is a succulent and tender cut from the rump which is cut across the grain and best served grilled.
The meat at Alston is cooked in the Josper grill, a hybrid of a charcoal barbecue and industrial oven, giving the steaks a smoky chargrilled finish whilst keeping the meat juicy and tender. My D-rump was very nice, cooked to a medium finish and served with a garlic butter. I had also ordered a side of peppercorn sauce that probably wasn't needed as the garlic butter worked perfectly with my steak - no problem though as I used the peppercorn sauce fro dipping my chips.
Bavette is the French name for flank steak and is a highly flavoured cut which has been largely forgotten as supermarkets took over from traditional butchers. Like onglet, sometimes known as 'the butcher's cut' as it is said that butchers reserved it for their own pleasure.
Nicola's steak was cooked medium-rare and was fantastic. Cooked at a high heat for a short time then rested, the Bavette was full of flavour and again, the garlic butter sauce was a perfect foil to the smoky tender meat.
In an attempt at being healthy, we also ordered a side of greens to accompany our steak frites. I not usually one for ordering sides as I feel that the value for money isn't great but the copper pan filled with buttered brocolli, sugar snap peas and mangetout was a reasonable sized portion and certainly enough to share comfortably between the two of us.
So two courses down, pretty good value for money for £13 but if you're ever eating at Alston (and I mean ever ever), you cannot leave without trying what I think is the best dessert on Glasgow and for an extra £3, you'll be glad that you dug a little deeper into your pocket.
I mean that! The poached conference pear, toasted Scottish oat crumb, pear gel and vanilla ice cream is a deconstructed take o pear crumble and an outstanding way to end a meal. The pear was soft, juicy and well flavoured with spice from the poaching liquor while the toasted oats added a crunchy texture and the creamy vanilla ice cream brought enough sweet press to balance the pud. (This pudding has been on the Alston menu since they opened and is served with Crème Anglais on the main menu. I was very kindly given a small pot of the Crème Anglais on the side)
By the time we had finished our late lunch, it was 8pm on a busy Friday evening and the bar was jam but our waitress was able to find us a table so that we could enjoy one last G&T before heading home.
With such a wide range of gins on the bar menu, we were both able to try a gin that we hadn't tasted before - Nicola tried Leopold's, a small batch gin from America which packed a citrussy punch thanks to the addition of hand-zested pummelo's (similar to a grapefruit) in the distillation process. For my own final drink, I opted for Hernö, a wonderful Swedish gin made from a homemade wheat spirit and full of the flavours of lemon, pepper and coriander.
So to sum up - for £13 for two course or £16 for three, we felt that the range of choice and quality of the food certainly makes Alston Bar & Beef somewhere worth considering for a great value lunch in Glasgow city centre. If you want to upgrade to the D-rump steak for an extra £3 then the option is there but I honestly think that the Bavette is a far tastier piece of meat for the money.
We dined as guests at the restaurant but the review above is an honest account of our experience on the night.
I would like to thank the staff and management at Alston for their hospitality and generosity and wish them every success in the future.
Keep up to date with news and offers from Alston Bar & Beef on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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