I HAD heard good things about this underground restaurant in Glasgow’s Central Station ever since it opened in May last year. Its steak and gin combo in particular sounded like the basis for a fun night out.

The door to the Alston is opposite the ticket office as you head out the Gordon Street entrance of the station. An industrial feel is captured with a metal staircase illuminated in blue leading you down into the bowels of the station.

First you come to a wall of glass through which you can see right into the kitchen and then into a space that has a vaulted ceiling and a healthy helping of pizzazz. We’re talking subtle blue neon strips around the white painted brick walls, honeycomb-tiled floors, original wall openings that have been retained for effect and (to remind us that we are in a railway station) a large electronic train timetable on the back wall.
The place is busy when The Other Half and I arrive – it’s Saturday
evening and the only table available is 9.30pm.
The Alston prides itself on two things – its steak and its gin. The steaks are supplied by Borders-based J Gilmour & Co, and are between 28 and 35-day
dry-aged. And if you are a fan of mother’s ruin there are more than 50 gins from which to choose.
Jim the “gin man” behind the bar is a mine of information here. To enter into the spirit of things, even though I’m not a gin drinker, I opt for a cocktail, The Royal Passage (£7), named in homage to the Glasgow shipbuilders who built HMS Britannia. It’s a refreshing start to the evening.
The starters are quick to arrive but are small in portion. The Other Half devours his scallops and beef shortrib with a butternut squash purée and herb in literally 20 seconds. My lemon and coriander mackerel with warm potato, onion and chorizo salad lasts about a minute.
I have to agree with The Other Half that his scallops win the first round – though it is the contrast of flavour and texture of the beef shortrib that sets this dish apart.
Dining in an establishment renowned for steak, it is decided that one of us should indulge. I choose the 300g dry-aged rib-eye steak (£24) which is served with chips or mash and a choice of sauce – I plump for the traditional pepper sauce, served in a mini-saucepan which is clearly clever portion control. I ask for the steak to be cooked medium though it turns up rarer than I would have liked. It would have been good to have some greens with the steak too without having to fork out an additional £4. The chips are disappointingly dry – though this may be an indication of the lateness of the evening and the winding down of the kitchen.
I hate to admit it but The Other Half wins again. His maple pork chop, served with Stornoway black pudding, caramelised apple, roast baby potatoes and crispy sage leaves (£15) is simply delicious; the combination spot on. In the hope of discovering whether I have just been served a “bad” batch of chips, he orders a portion of Parmesan and truffle chips (£4), but these are dry as well.
Conscious of the clock ticking for our train home, we decide to share crumbed pear for a sweet, which is a good choice. The poached pear is presented on a bed of crumble and is an eye-catching and mouth-watering twist on the traditional dish.
Our meal is washed down with a bottle of house merlot (£20) with grossly oversized wine glasses. The total bill for our two à la carte starters and mains, plus one sweet, the portion of truffle chips and a bottle of wine is £85.
The steak and gin concept is good, and the environment is lovely. However, I would suggest trying to book an earlier table if possible as the kitchen and waiting staff are clearly flagging by this point in the evening. I’m sure if we had been able to eat earlier the overall experience would have been more favourable.

HOW MUCH?

Starters £5-£15
Main courses £12-£33
(£45 or £75 for a two-to-share main)
Puddings £6 (Cheeseboard £8)

ALSO ON THE MENU:
The Alston Bar & Beef has a couple of different menus on the table, with the set menu being one of the best value – one course is £11, two courses £14 and three courses £17 Monday-Thursday 12pm-6.30pm and Friday/Saturday 12pm-6pm.
The Alston steak burger is included in this menu, along with an artichoke and red pepper risotto, smoked fishcakes, chicken breast, and steak frites, which costs an extra £3.
The Sunday roast menu (every Sunday 12pm-6pm) is another key contender, with one course at £13, two courses £16 and three courses £19.
Offerings such as crayfish cocktail or asparagus with béarnaise and parma ham for starters, rolled roast pork belly, roast rump or a half roast chicken for main, and the delicious pear crumble, Eton mess or trio of ice creams for sweet make this menu hard to resist.

www.alstonglasgow.co.uk/

Alston Bar & Beef, Glasgow, restaurant review
60%Overall Score

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