The Blind Pig
First Figs, now Pigs. Donald Reid sidled into the latest bar-bistro to rev up Glasgow’s West End scene
This is the recession, right? Calamitous days for bars and restaurants? Yet everywhere you look there are new openings, and decent ones at that. In recent weeks the The Two Figs opened at the foot of Byres Road, followed closely by the Blind Pig, appearing a couple of hundred yards up the road in the moribund, poster-plastered site that once housed Whistlers’ Mother.
There are many similarities between the Figs and Pigs – both come from established local operators, both have bar and dining areas split by a tenement close, both have a stylish, switched-on approach and both take some care over their food. Good news for the Byres Road scene.
The List visited The Two Figs a few issues back (637). The Blind Pig, meanwhile, takes a bit of working out. It’s part 1920s prohibition-era: the name is slang for a speakeasy, and the period feel is provided by walls and ceiling painted in dark charcoal with white cornicing, ornate gold picture frames and sparkling lights (including an intriguing deconstructed chandelier of crystal glasses and decanters hanging above the scuffed wood dining room bar) penetrating the murky atmosphere. Cocktails are served in teapots – an entertaining if not original feature.
It’s also part Scottish food champion, being far too sophisticated a place to slip into the trap of serving Bugsy Malone burgers. Despite the Asian leanings of Brad Stevens’ other ventures Bar Soba and Mamasan, the various menus here offer a tuned-in array of local sources, artisanal produce and handmade breads, chutneys and salads. In the relatively formal dining room the starter list includes a bold slab of ham hough terrine or moist potted duck served with plum chutney, while mains feature confidently assembled cod with Indian-spiced lentils and roasted ‘heritage’ tomatoes or a chunky slice of Dunsyre Blue and broccoli tart with an intense pea and mint puree. It’s encouraging to see a pastry chef earning his crust not just with a smart tart but different breads for the starters, petit rolls with the cheese board and fresh, soft profiteroles doused in chocolate sauce.
Such things help to develop a thread of connection between customer, chef and food source that goes deeper than the relatively easy tricks of building an enlarged kitchen hatch and speaking the right-on language of local and seasonal on the menu.
Over in the busier, buzzier bar, 2.0 Scottish food is even more pronounced with pearl barley risotto, hog roast roll and venison sausages fronting up the ‘grazing’ menu, though at around £12 for a main and a pint it’s not such a light touch on the wallet. Most popular of all in the Blind Pig’s early day are football-free weekend brunches and full-on Sunday roasts featuring joints from Broomhill butchers Christie. The era of prohibition on serving real local food in bars may be over.
The Blind Pig
116–122 Byres Road, Glasgow
0141 357 5482
Food served Mon–Sat noon–10pm; Sun 10am–9pm [bar open till midnight]