St Vincent Place is fast becoming an opulent end of town, the stretch off George Square now boasting big and bold brasseries in grand former bank or office buildings.
Wander down Anchor Lane and you’ll catch glimpses inside The Trading House, all dark wood, low lighting and gilded throwbacks to the days of empire – which, given the name, is probably the point.
My friend went for the houmous board to start – and marks for presentation here. A thick, creamy houmous arrived spread across a carved cabbage flower, surrounded by crudités and tasty, doughy bread – a light starter, and a welcome change from the usual fried-with-dip efforts.
Okay, so my homemade Scotch egg with piccalilli may fall into that very category, but it was great; crisp crumb and crumbling sausage wrapped around a still-runny egg, perfectly paired with the sharp smear of pickle.
Across the table, a main of Malaysian chicken curry was a heartier affair; chunks of meat crammed into a thick broth with potato and crunchy veg. Pub curries are all too often bland and unexciting – this had a welcome after-kick of chilli heat.
I was taken in by The Trading House’s festive menu, and chose the veggie option of pumpkin ravioli with crispy shallots and sage. Sweet pumpkin, silky pasta and a hearty supply of garlicky butter – you can’t really go wrong, can you? I could have eaten another plateful.
The decision to serve it with Christmas dinner trimmings, however, I wasn’t sold on. A side dish of root veg, sprouts and roast tatties looked sad and lonely without a good splash of gravy, and added nothing of interest.
We finished with a chocolate fudge cake and strawberry and marshmallow kebab with Sailor Jerry rum and chocolate sauce – a theatrical hanging dessert doused at the table by The Trading House’s very attentive staff, and definitely one to impress little munchers (although perhaps without the rum).
A Tuesday meal out usually precedes an early night – but it’s Christmas, after all, and the bar was calling.
The Trading House also deals in cocktail masterclasses, and we were shown the ropes by Calum, the bar’s incredibly friendly manager, who made it his mission to change my mind about my least favourite spirit.
A few gin samples in and I was on the fence. But a blackcurrant pop bramble – made with blackcurrant pop tea, Bombay Dry, creme de cassis, lemon juice and sugar – could have tempted me over to the dark side.
I made this one myself, I can boast, hopping the bar at Calum’s request (and realising just how much work goes into one of those tasty tipples).
A pineapple mojito was on more familiar turf for me and was, again, excellent, as were Wendy’s blueberry gin crush and cardamom margarita – proving that The Trading House’s extensive cocktail list is well worth investigating.
If you have a hen night or big birthday coming up, book it. If you have a spare festive minute free and you feel like learning and drinking all at once (and your university professors said it couldn’t be done!) then this is the place.
It was definitely an early – but very merry – Christmas for us.