It’s beginning to look a lot like…Sunday roast season. It’s cold, dark and probably raining and, if your electricity bills are anything like mine, you’re unlikely to want to use the oven for an extended period of time.
These things combined make it an ideal time to wrap up and head to the nearest cosy pub or restaurant for a plate or two of something warming. It’s also a good trial run ahead of the big roast that is Christmas dinner.
It’s a cold, wet and windy Sunday late afternoon that sees us descend to The Drake - a bar and restaurant in Glasgow’s west end that’s been here as long, if not longer, than I have.
I recall the odd lunchtime spent here, with soup, a sandwich and a large glass of wine, about 15 years ago and I am pleased to see it’s not drastically changed.
The Drake’s Sunday lunches have been keeping locals and visitors happy for years, and given the set price of £24 for two courses and £28 for three, this is a budget-friendly, and cosy way to enjoy the end of the weekend.
The Drake is located in the basement of what would have once been a townhouse, with Hooligan the restaurant and wine bar, and Rascal (formerly Fly South) cocktail bar both upstairs.
There’s a homely feel to the bar, with its wood burning stove and well-worn rugs as well as the country kitchen style chairs, and chesterfield-like banquette seating.
There’s shelves of knick knacks, fairy lights and portraits of wildlife, that just add to the homely, cosy welcoming feel. It’s also dog-friendly, and family friendly.
Four roasts - three meat and one veggie - plus three starters and three desserts are all that’s on the menu on a Sunday, which keeps things simple.
After ordering our drinks, we’re quick to decide on our starters and mains. I went for a starter of corn fritters while my boyfriend ordered the Arbroath smokie and ratte potato salad with crispy leek.
The five mustard coloured corn fritters were served with a side of ranch, which looked for all the world like the dill dip in those old school dip selection packs that you only really buy at Christmas time.
The fritters were crisp with a hint of sweetness and bite from the sliver of green pepper in the mix, but the sparkle of a flurry or sea salt on top made them just too salty.
The Arbroath smokie salad had lovely al dente potatoes, mixed with the soft, sweetly smoked fish, all of which was combined together in mayo and topped with a stack of thinly sliced, crispy leek.
The flavours were nice but it felt like salt had been added which wasn’t necessary given the saltiness of the fish. But, it all paired well with the fireside old fashioned, which contained peated whisky.
On to the mains - my butternut squash, hazelnut and celeriac roast and a roast sirloin of beef - both served with all the trimmings, which here includes a Yorkshire pudding, tender stem broccoli, cauliflower cheese, carrots and roast potatoes.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the butternut squash option, probably for a slice of squash, maybe stuffed with the celeriac and hazelnuts.
What arrived looked like a triangle of cake, with a crisp outer shell and soft centre of squash. The addition of sage gave it a festive feel (it’s not Christmas in our house until someone has made sage and onion stuffing from the packet for my Dad) and while this complemented the squash, it was a bit overwhelming and took away from any other flavours.
The broccoli and carrots were nicely al dente (no boiled to within an inch of its life veg here), and the Yorkshire soft - the perfect way to mop up the delicious gravy.
While the roast potatoes were good, they could have been crispier (for me nothing will top my Dad’s roast potatoes, made to a secret recipe) but it was the light yet full of flavour cauliflower cheese that was the star of the sides show.
The roast beef, of which there were a generous three slices of, was deemed superb as was the gravy with them and the sides.
Despite being quite full, we decided to share the most pub lunch of puddings, sticky toffee pudding.
This soft slab of sponge topped with sweet, caramel sauce with a side of vanilla ice cream was the perfect end to the meal. This is my boyfriend’s favourite dessert and it did not disappoint.
The Drake is one of those places that’s been part of the furniture of Glasgow’s dining scene for so long that you’re in danger of forgetting it’s there. But it’s a great spot for some homely food in cosy surroundings. Just hold off on some of the seasoning next time.