Well, Curlers and I have a long standing relationship. It was the place that students at Reith Halls went to on Wednesday nights in 1999 and although, frankly it was a dive, it also sold very cheap After Shock and played music until late. I probably danced on a bar at some point during a drunken Wednesday there and I definitely screeched along to Mambo No 5 with my friend Jessica. It’s also the place I met my future husband, standing outside waiting to get in and not standing a chance against a very determined, rather tipsy English girl enjoying her first months of independence in bonny Scotland. Calum has played gigs there, I’ve danced dances there, Curlers was a Scream pub and we were screaming drunk. And then? Well, then we all realised that actually it was a bit crap and we didn’t like it anymore. Off to pastures new, but of course Curlers remained until a rebrand in 2010 and Byres Road’s oldest drinking establishment was reinvented as Curlers Rest….
I was suspicious, as one is when entering an old bar dressed up in new clothes (the pub, not me), the toilets haven’t changed, the bar hasn’t moved but they have done something rather clever – turned a nasty student dive into something which feels almost cosy and inviting. Especially on my lastest visit, all Christmassy lights entwined around the glass staircase and pretty candles on every table.
Because the place was so mobbed (always a good sign right?!), I arrived and my friend Mags was sitting at one of the tables near the staircase, a little bit dark but a table nonetheless! Our waitress was adorable, slightly nervy and very sweet, she just about walked into a pillar after turning too quickly taking our order. She was very attentive and made sure we had everything we needed. The menu was great, a good mix of choices and easy to decipher (unlike the rubbish menu at Bar Gambrino). Water jug for the table, nice and clean and efficient.
The Sunday Roast at Curlers Rest is pretty delicious – I’ve had it a few times in the past and never been disappointed. With beef, pork, chicken or nut roast on offer, they have Sunday lunch covered! So, because I’m a creature of habit I went for a roast again, this time it was half a Shropshire chicken, roasted and served with gravy, fries, a baked tomato and some unidentifiable green stuff that I just ignored. The chicken was great, well cooked, crispy skin and nicely tender. The gravy, served in a ramekin was tasty too and there was plenty to ensure my chicken was lovingly drenched in it. The fries were good and hot, tasty and crunchy arriving in a wee pot that I just turned out on to the plate to join the gravy pool. The tomato and the green stuff were no great shakes but the chicken and chips more than made up for it. Mags had the pork & chorizo burger with caramelised red onion & fries, nicely presented and tasty.
Curlers Rest offers a number of real ales on tap and a range of specialty beers, they put on craft fairs and have local art adorning the walls – they have come a long way to present a properly cosy Scottish bar in a super handy location right next to Hillhead tube stop.
I suppose the point of Curlers isn’t to be serving the best food on Bryes Road, it’s not knocking down Heston’s doors and nor does it pander to Westend airs however, it does make good honest food and washed down with a glass or two of good red wine, we had a lovely long lunch in comfortable surroundings. If you are looking for fancysmachy – this probably isn’t the place for you, tasty food on a cold winters day however? Give Curlers Rest a whirl and see if you can hear the past emanating from the walls, it’s been around in pub form since the 17th century so you can bet it’s seen scarier sights than boozy teenagers swinging from the rafters…. perhaps?!