The Raven

The Raven opened its doors last week & we were lucky enough to go along for a preview before it opened. The Raven is the newest offering from Maclay Inn (of Dram!, Munros & The Hope fame), in the site of the infamous Bay Horse pub site on renfield street.

image

The bar itself is quite airy, with a large bar to the left when you walk in. They have an extensive range of craft beers which is obvious from the moment you enter. There is an open kitchen to the back right & upstairs is another large area. One thing I did like about the bar was that they had stripped back one of the walls so it is plain brick as it was meant to be.

image

When asked to go along, the blurb emphasised their focus on smoked, slow cooked food. To be honest, I feel this is totally overdone & Glasgow needs a new direction for food. However, I’m pleased to say that The Raven showed me that some places can still do American style food well. Before I go on, we did get craft beer tasters to accompany each dish but as I’m not a beer drinker, I’ve left this out as I couldn’t comment on the matching.

image

First up was some nachos, plain & beef chilli. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really like them. The nachos were quite large & a weird consistency. There was also a lack of cheese & only a handful of jalapenos – not one I would order again. Next up was the smoked platter which consists of half a slow cooked chicken, pulled pork & a rack of ribs accompanied by corn on the cob & red cabbage slaw. The platter is huge & can easily feed 2-3 people. At £17 as well, it’s a bargain! The chicken was really tender & fell off the bone, as did the ribs. My favourite was pulled pork which I’ve admitted before isn’t my favourite. This pork was juicy & had a Smokey, bbq flavour that was quite moreish. To accompany the platter, every table has a range of sauces from hot sauce to bbq to honey & mustard. Hot sauce on the table is also a thumbs up from me!

image

image

We then tasted some of the sliders. I had half of a cheeseburger which was a decent burger but not one to write home about. What did get my eye was the Mac n cheese slider. Yes, macaroni in a burger! It was a deep fried macaroni patty in a bun with the usual suspects. It was quite messy, falling apart as soon as I bit into it but the Mac n cheese was tasty but not too creamy. Definitely a heart attack in a slider!

image

image

We also tried the fries & sweet potato fries, with the sweet potato ones winning my vote as they were crispy yet fluffy & very moreish. Wings were also on offer in bbq, super hot & plain (who orders plain wings?!). We were far too stuffed from the food we’d already tried so I only tried a super hot wing which aren’t on the menu & were just a test for the previews. I’d have to say I’m glad they aren’t because they need some working on the taste. Normally you’d associate hot wings with a buffalo toe sauce but these were more of a Moroccan harrissa type taste which was a bit strange.

image

image

I can definitely see me popping back into The Raven since the smoked platter was so reasonable for how much food you get. And a glass of bubbles for under £4 is always tempting!

An average night at The Drake

I had walked past The Drake a few times but never ventured in. Feeling the January pinch, we opted to go there on a 20% off A La Carte deal courtesy of 5pm.co.uk.

Walking in, we went straight upstairs only to be told that there was a function on & we had to go back downstairs. There were no signs signalling this which would’ve been helpful. When we got downstairs, we were told to take our pic of seats in the back bar area. We chose a big booth next to the fire, which unfortunately wasn’t on despite it being chilly outside. The back bar area had a pretty laid back feel to it, with quilted booth style seats taking up most of the area & dimmed lighting throughout.

I’m a big fan of sharing starters because you get much more variety than your bog-standard starter. We went for the “Taste of the Sea” platter. As the name suggests, an array of seafood including smoked salmon, mussels, trout, pickled herring, squid & samphire salad accompanied by bread. For mains we went for the red snapper & king prawn Goan curry & the chorizo & chicken linguine. Unfortunately, the pasta had sold out so the Pollock with chorizo & squid broth was chosen instead.



The platter arrived & the first thing we noticed was that there was one king prawn – bit strange considering it was a sharing platter. I have to say overall, the platter was a disappointment. The best part of it was the squid & samphire salad, which mixed well together although the samphire wasn’t as salty as I was expecting. The trout was melt in the mouth  which made up for the strange smoked salmon. I can’t even describe what it tasted like but it had some oil drizzled over it which detracted from the smokey flavour you would normally associate. Even Al who is a fish fanatic couldn’t handle more than a couple of bites. The rest of the platter was equally unimpressive – plain mussels in hot water & stale bits of bread. We had to ask for butter to go with the bread as there was no sauce in the mussels to soak it up. 

The mains had actually arrived during our starter but we asked for them to be taken away. When we were ready for them, I was impressed with the presentation. My curry came in a dinky pot with a lid, served on a heavy slate board. The pollock was positioned nicely on a bed on samphire (much to Al’s dismay at more of it) with scatterings of chorizo. One big down point to the curry was the single shell-on king prawn balanced on top. Not wanting to waste it, I de-shelled it but without having a single bite, my hands were covered in curry, not exactly what I was expecting!  


My first taste of the curry & all I could immediately think of was the type of curry you get from the chinese. It had the same texture, colour & tasted extremely similar. Having never tasted a Goan curry before, I’m still not sure if this is what it is meant to taste like but I assume not. The prawns were cooked well but the red snapper was relatively tough. Al had a taste & asked me if it was chicken I had in the curry!! Apart from that I did enjoy it with the nicely fragrant rice, not overpowered with cloves & a nice chapati to soak it up. The pollock went down very weel & the chorizo accompanied it well. There was far too much samphire in the dish, with most of it being left to the side. 

I was glad we had the 20% discount because I would not have been happy paying £40 for 2 very average courses & only 1 drink each. The Drake is trying to be a bit more upmarket than the skill of their current kitchen staff. If they toned down the menu more, going back to basics & served food more suited to the feel of the place, rather than trying to be too sophisticated. Will definitely be back for a drink!

The Great White Buffalo

After reading James v Burger’s review of Nice & Sleazy’s new range of burgers, I decided I’d try one whilst in pre-gig during the week.

It was hard to choose as the majority took my fancy! The range of ingredients on each burger is impressive, on average around 5 items with the burger. I narrowed it down to either the Red Mist (chicken breast in sage, thyme, lemon zest with smoked cheddar, double bacon, caramalised onions, mature chedder, bbq sauce & hot buffalo sauce) or Great White Buffalo burger (Jack-Daniels soaked burger with tabasco, worcester sauce, bacon, stilton, garlic mayo, red onion marmalade & hot buffalo sauce)- as put by my friend, chicken or beef? I decided to take the plunge & go with the Great White Buffalo.

When the burger arrived, I thought it looked pretty small but on closer inspection saw how packed it was with the additional ingredients. It came with a small glass filled with triple cooked chips. Again another small looking portion compared to usual pub grub. After cutting the burger in half, you can see just how jam packed it is with ingredients:



On first bite, all I could think was “chinese food”. It was a bizarre taste that came from the mix of the sweet jack daniels, worcester sauce & caramelised onions. Not unpleasant but definitely not what I was expecting from this burger! After one half of the burger, I realised I had forgotten that it had Stilton in it. Any taste of the blue cheese was swamped by the garlic mayo which covered the top half of the burger. What really got the thumbs up from me about this burger was the bacon – lovely thin & crispy bacon. Beats the fatty, thick pieces that normally accompany burgers. The caramelised onions were also nice & sweet with a slight acidity that went nicely with both the burger & the garlic mayo.

Overall, I’d say a decent burger but not the best I’ve ever had. My tip to Nice & Sleazy’s would be to reduce the amount of additional ingredients with the burger. If the Great White Buffalo was advertised as having garlic mayo & caramlised onions with it instead of garlic mayo, stilton, caramelised onions & hot buffalo sauce, I definitely would not have been disappointed with how it all blended in together. 

A final point that my fiance asked me to put up is the table cloth he thought was awesome (I don’t know what goes through his head!).