News you can trust since 1817

West Side Tavern, Glasgow, restaurant review - New York meets 70s style in this new dive bar

Rosalind Erskine steps back in time for American Italian food at this new bar and restaurant.

Published: March 19, 2023

Various areas in Glasgow seem to be in a constant state of gentrification, with certain neighbourhoods unrecognisable from ten years ago. From Finnieston to Shawlands, the rise in restaurants, bars and independent shops have made for buoyant house prices as well as those lamenting the loss of a dear ‘proper’ bar.

While the former bike shop turned bar…turned into another bar, West Side Tavern won’t have much of the latter complaint, it seems to have taken inspiration from 70s pubs with a hint of New York style. Basically if a venue’s look and feel could epitomise Glasgow’s gentrified and hipster culture, it’s here.

Opened in late December, West Side Tavern is the brainchild of Joshua Barr, son of Colin Barr who has owned and ran hospitality venues in the city for decades. In fact there’s a still from Trainspotting,famously about Edinburgh but filmed mainly in Glasgow, hanging on the wall.

The photo shows Ewan McGregor and Kelly MacDonald outside Volcano nightclub, which was owned by Colin. The team behind West Side Tavern also have The Locale at Charing Cross.

Inside there’s wood panelled walls, maroon vinyl banquet and velvet seating, and funky artwork including pieces from local artists Trackie McLeod and Sobhan Sheikh. Inspiration for the aesthetic comes from New York dive bars such as Minetta Tavern or Fanelli Cafe.

On opening, owner Joshua said of the bar’s look: “The inspiration comes from movie nostalgia with 1970s-inspired fixtures and fittings. It’s a mash-up of all my inspiration and I like that it’s like the kind of bars that I love. The traditional bars and taverns of old New York. I think it’s coming around again, this mid-century, seventies sort of style. It’s become cool again for a lot of people.”

This nod to the USA has also made its way onto the menu, which is Italian American inspired with pizza, pasta and small plates and snacks. There’s also an extensive drinks list which includes taptails - cocktails on tap - which have been created by Max Macaulay.

In the few times I have seen this, I can’t help but think of flat Wetherspoons prosecco on tap, but my Juan Collins cocktail (£9) was fresh, fruity and delicious - definitely one for warmer days spent in the vast beer garden outside. 

Mana Poke, Edinburgh, review - get healthy with Hawaiian-inspired bowls

To start, we chose a plate of anchovies (£4) from the snacks as well as burrata (£8) and charred hispi cabbage (£6). The anchovies, small piquant slivers, were swimming in a deeply flavoured garlic oil and topped with earthy oregano. I could have eaten several plates, especially if served alongside a cold, classic martini.

The hispi cabbage was topped with thin ribbons of date ketchup and yoghurt, like a picturesque hot dog sauce combo. There wasn’t much hint of the promised charring, and the softness of the cabbage plus the sweetness from the dates were giving me Christmas day vibes.

The ball of burrata, so often served whole, had been handily chopped in two with the ends of each piece dipped in vibrant pistachios.

They were served with whole pickled red grapes doused in a raspberry vinegar. If that all sounds like it sounds like it should be quite tart, it wasn’t, making this dish more akin to a modern cheese course for dessert rather than a starter. Not a bad dish, the burrata was cool and creamy, and benefited from the pistachio, just sweeter than expected.

Hope Izakaya, Edinburgh - try traditional Japanese food and cocktails at this new restaurant

West Side Tavern’s signature dish has to be pizza (as it should, with Beirm’s Alex Brady in the kitchen), all 14 inches of them, which have been designed to share and come sliced up a top of a stand or ‘tavern style’.

We decide on the spice boi (£15) as well as a plate of linguine vongole (£16). The pasta was a tangle of linguine, clams, bright chillies and smoked mussels.

The mussels, which were supposed to be a sauce but were found throughout the dish, did a lot of heavy lifting with their deeply sweet and smoky taste.

There wasn’t much if any heat from the chillies and the clams, while fresh, didn’t add much to this dish. Over on the pizza stand, the spice boi had made an entrance, the bubbly thin crust topped with pepperoni, hot honey and chillies.

Stravaigin, Glasgow, restaurant review - what's on the menu at the newly reopened old favourite

The meat and sweet honey work wonders, but again there’s not much kick from the chillies here. With no sign of a dessert menu we pay up and head off into the chilly night.

West Side Tavern has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and I’d definitely return for drinks and a pizza in the future. And, given the buzz about it on a Sunday night, it’s a welcome and fun addition to the vibrant food scene that’s unfolding in Partick.

West Side Tavern

162 Dumbarton Road, Partick, Glasgow G11 6XE

0141 286 6617

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

Let us know what you think


Copyright ©2023 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram