So I arrived in Glasgow today for a long weekend after 5 hours on the train. Tired and hungry Nick and I went in search of sustenance. We decided on Ad lib on hope Street. An unassuming little restaurant/diner. You’d almost miss it if you didn’t know it was there.
As you enter the bar seems darkly lit and a little divey (but in that amazing I bet they do great beer and chicken wings here kinda way). The bar opens up into an light and airy space, with rooftop windows giving an amazing contrast to bar area.
We sat down and were given a simple menu. One A3 page for everything. There was a specials board as well.
There’s such an amazing variety of food for such a small menu. From tex mex inspired to their own take on soul food. They have a choice of 4 burgers: beef, lamb, chicken, and chickpea. These burgers can be customised to an incredible degree.
For starters I chose the pulled pork quesadilla with Pico de Gallo. It was the best quesadilla I’ve ever eaten. It arrived and I was a touch concerned it was burnt. I was so wrong. The bittersweet charcoal flavour worked wonderfully with the light and slightly citrusy pulled pork. It was moist without being wet and there was just the right amount of cheese to hold it all together without causing the dish to become too heavy. The tangy salsa added a freshness to the dish. I’m not saying that this is an authentic quesadilla, until I’ve had a quesadilla made for me by a Mexican abuela I don’t have a solid comparison. The quesadilla was delicious and well flavoured and I could have eaten a double portion.
Nick had southern fried chicken popcorn with a smoky BBQ mayo. Now to me the smoky BBQ mayo tasted more like what Americans would call a cocktail sauce. It was however lovely, well flavoured and paired perfectly with the deliciously crunchy popcorn bites. The southern fried chicken itself was nicely seasoned and perfectly tender, the coating was crisp and just a little bitter which was great because of the sweet cocktail sauce.
So for mains I chose a comforting bowl of brown sugar and bourbon beef brisket with chilli fired greens, mash potato, and meat gravy. The beef was perfectly cooked, and it melted in your mouth, sweet from the sugar and rich from the bourbon. The mash potato was smooth and buttery, I’m convicted there was lashings of cream in it but quite frankly it was so tasty it was worth the calories. The surprise highlight of this dish were the chilli fried greens. They still had a little bite, and parts had obviously caught on the bottom of the pan adding great caramelisation and a good texture. All the contents were brought together by lashings of thick, unxious and deeply flavoured gravy.
Nick chose a behemoth of a burger aptly named “The ‘sign of the times’ burger”. Found on the specials board this monster consisted of a Aberdeen angus burger, bacon, pickles, roasted tomato chutney, AND a Mac and cheese fritter. This thing was huge, the only things holding it together was its own gravitational pull and two wooden skewers.
The burger was amazing, seasoned to perfection and so juicy. I found the mac and cheese fritter to be lacking a little salt when eaten by itself. Rich salty bacon and a sweet and smoky roasted tomato chutney pulled the whole thing together. Nick chose to upgrade to Texas chips, essentially chips with some salsa, sour cream and bacon. I found these to be disappointing, the toppings added very little to the chips and in fact just made them go a little soggy.
Our plates were cleared and by Downloading and showing our server that we had the ad lib app (or for iPhone if you’re so inclined) we were given 10% off our food bill. At £42 for 2 courses for 2 people I can’t really complain, drinks are a little expensive but that’s expected in a place that tries to keep its food costs low. The servers are great they deliver lovely customer service without being intrusive and overbearing.
If you’re into food challenges Ad lib provide one hell of a burger. The monster burger challenge involves a 3lb beef burger, 3 whole beef tomatoes, 2 onions, and 1lb of cheese to be finished within 2 hours, with no table breaks. I’d you finish the meal is free and you get a T-shirt to prove hour glory.
I’d highly recommend giving this place a try. The portion size is generous, and the food packs a punch of flavour. The have a second branch on Ingram Street and a third branch in Malawi. Their Malawi branch is involved in the Malawi tomorrow project with the aim of promoting and advancing the eduction, health and welfare of young people, and the general public in Malawi.
And before you ask yes their Malawi branch is also home to the monster burger challenge.
Stay tuned for more exiting food adventures over the next few days.