Restaurant review: Tasty treats in the heart of Glasgow

Urban Bar and Brasserie in St Vincent Street, Glasgow
Urban Bar and Brasserie in St Vincent Street, Glasgow

Glasgow’s city fathers famously built its modern town centre on a rigid grid system – a plan that would latterly be copied (on a much larger scale) in Manhattan and Chicago.

The end result is it’s easy to find your way around; but you don’t bother to remember individual street names, as you just instinctively know where things are.

Urban is a swish bar and brasserie on St Vincent Street – in other words, you cross George Square from Queen Street station, take a right, and it’s pretty much opposite The Counting House.

Last week, the restaurant held what’s known in the trade as a ‘menu launch’. It’s as simple as it sounds; the city’s restaurant reviewers and food bloggers were invited along to sample its new winter dishes.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking – why did they invite the likes of me? The short answer is they didn’t. I was fortunate enough to be invited as someone’s ‘plus one’.

Packed to the rafters, the event was certainly popular — hinting at good things to come.

The feature table was laden with samples – as soon as one plate was laid out, they were snatched up in seconds by the dozens of hungry guests.

Fish goujons were particularly popular, and (when I finally nabbed a bit), I could see why; crisp coating, flaky fish and the perfect tartare sauce.

I avoided the Marrbury smoked salmon with capers (not my bag) – but I was reliably informed that it was very good.

A duck confit salad with roast beetroot, green beans and grain mustard hit the spot, and a Roquefort and apple salad was superb, although a tad on the strong side for my companion.

On then to miniatures from the new menu. Fishcakes with red pepper and black bean salsa were plump, fishy and full of flavour. Sashimi of sea bass and salmon — accompanied by a sweet and sticky teriyaki — was wonderful too, but the Scotch beef burger was a little dry and hard to swallow (even in mini form).

Desserts were snaffled just as fast, but I managed to lay claim to a chocolate and pecan brownie (heavenly — the best of the bunch), lemon posset (a little too tangy for me, but refreshing) and banana ice cream with rum butterscotch and crushed meringue.

The food at Urban is much like the decor; it’s elegant for the most part, without trying too hard. Instead, the focus lies on high quality ingredients without much of a fuss.