WEST on the Corner is a new restaurant on Woodlands Road in Glasgow, but its mothership, WEST at Glasgow Green, has been established for a decade, in the landmark Templeton Building.
The premise for both locations is a simple and logical one – German beer deserves German food to accompany it. The WEST brewery is a unique proposition; it produces artisan lagers and wheat beers in strict accordance with the German purity law of 1516, which allows only barley, hops, yeast and water in beer making, so no added chemicals, preservatives or artificial flavours. The beers are available all over the UK, but so far, the food is only on offer in Glasgow.
I’m a big fan of proper German beer, and since visiting the country in my 20s, I’ve had memories of huge steins of lager with high, frothy heads that you almost want to attack with a sundae spoon. But while German beers and lagers may have a world-beating reputation, the country’s cuisine jostles for position with our own in lack of enthusiasm from the wider world. Even those amply refreshed on pilsner are unlikely to declare “Let’s go for a German” after a Glasgow night out, but WEST could change that.
The new restaurant in the WEST brand has a lovely feel. The building was previously a bit of an old man’s pub – nothing wrong with that – and the refurbishment has kept some of its traditional feel, but the decor is now more hipster, with whitewashed wood, bare stone and brick walls and exposed girders. Big windows overlook the park and the ornate church opposite, along with the sculpture of Glasgow cartoon character Lobey Dosser.
We’d booked a table for three, including my teenage son – he and his father, like most Scots males between 12 and 70, were off to the AC\DC concert at Hampden afterwards. Booking, particularly an early dinner, was probably a mistake – we were led through a great buzzing pub atmosphere with groups sharing plates, supping pints, reading newspapers and chatting, to another room, which was empty. Seated at a booth, it was a nice spot, with the open kitchen in full view, but we couldn’t help but think we were missing out on the party next door.
The menu is an all-day one offering bar snacks such as fresh-made pretzels and sharing salami platters. They also serve a great looking brunch spread which we will try another time. But first the beer. The other half ordered a pint of their most famous brew, St Mungo’s, while I opted for a half of a special, Somer beer – the menu is extensive and changes with the seasons, but the waiter was keen to get us something we liked. And he was spot on.
Both were a pale golden colour; the St Mungo’s had a more malty flavour which the other half liked, but I stuck with the Somer – being light, almost lemony, with a hint of freshly cut grass. I’m not sure I’ve ever been inspired to use such language to describe a lager before, and were it not for the boys’ pressing engagement I could have been tempted to work my way through the whole liquid menu.
For food to accompany our beer, we wanted a selection – and ended up getting a little carried away. Our order could have fed most of the Hampden crowd, but it was good value, and if we didn’t get through it all, it wasn’t for want of trying.
Best of the starters was a flaked, hot smoked salmon salad with potato and peas in a lemon dressing, but coming a close second was the haddock fishcake with curry sauce. We obviously had to have a plate of sausages to share, and were served a bockwurst, bratwurst, Nürnberger and Bavarian smokie, with mayo, sauerkraut and more curry sauce. I couldn’t tell you which was which, but they were a fine selection of spicy parcels, with their richness cut through by pickled cabbage.
The grown-ups were feeling a little full by now, but that is that advantage of bringing a teenage boy. He ordered the pretzel burger as a main and a doorstep-sized creation arrived: a freshly made warm pretzel with a huge juicy burger done to a turn and stacked up with a delicious apple and beetroot slaw with fries on the side. He polished off the lot.
The Jäger Schnitzel, a pork escalope in a wild mushroom sauce, was thankfully to be shared between two, although next time I’d go without a starter and have the burger. A side of Bavarian cheese spätzle was the only real disappointment, being on the chilly side, which rendered it stodgy rather than oozy, but we hadn’t really needed it anyway. As the others tottered off for their AC\DC gig, I mused that the meal was fitting for the occasion with food that was big, meaty and tasty – and it only cost £62 all in.
WEST serves wonderful lagers, with good food, and is a great find even if you aren’t only here for the beer.
Main courses £9-£20
ALSO ON THE MENU
Next time we’ll come for longer, bring a crowd and make sure we have a designated driver. Starting at midday with brunch and taking a relaxed approach to working our way through the beer menu accompanied by sharing platters is probably the way to go. Restrained ordering would have left room for pudding, such as Bavarian apple strudel and lemon posset with blueberry compote.