If you’ve read my blog about the iconic ABC in Glasgow – you’ll know I’m a sucker for Victorian architecture and careful restoration – so when I was given an Itison voucher for the Anchor Line restaurant in Glasgow I was really excited to use it having seen so many photos from the interior.
Built by iconic architect James Miller – the talent behind so many beautiful structures such as the Caledonian Mansions in Kelvinbridge, St Enoch’s station, the Botanic Garden’s train station and entrance lodge and many grand homes in Bearsden – the Anchor Line building is a sight to behold.
Located a stones-throw from George Square, it’s the ideal location for a quick drink or a sit-down meal.
The building was constructed in 1905, at a time when Glasgow was an industrial town and the concept of a glass and steel build would have been inconceivable. Originally housing the booking office for The Anchor Line shipping company, the building has stood silently, watching as the world changed until there was less need for an international shipping – ultimately closing their doors in 1965.
When reading about the rich history of past Glasgow, it’s always a fear that the nuance and character of buildings is lost when renovating and changing hands. In this case, the integrity of The Anchor Line remains, an opulent glimpse into Victorian Glasgow.
Ahead of our visit to the Anchor Line, we didn’t know what to expect – we knew that it’d be more upmarket than anywhere we’d generally visit, but had no idea about the food. The deal we got was a 4 course dinner with a cocktail each, like I said previously, we were given this as a gift so I’m unsure what this would actually cost; they don't currently have an equivalent offer on right now but it's worth keeping an eye out.
Upon arriving, we were slightly confused as there are three restaurants in the block all with similar entryways – The Anchor Line, The Citizen and The Atlantic – so it took us a moment or two to figure out which doorway we were, but once we’d figured it our we headed up the stone steps into the restaurant. The main area of The Anchor Line is a cavernous room that has been carefully and tastefully undergone a makeover, rolling back the years – and layers of history – to display the decadence that was prevalent back in it’s heyday.
The focal point of the room is a large, rectangular bar in a marbled finish with copious amounts of glassware hanging from the gold frame – accentuated with the intricate cornicing on the ceiling. Unlike so many of the detailing around the city, this hasn’t been thickened with layers of glossy paint – and if it was, all traces have been carefully removed.
Unfortunately we weren’t seated in this area and were taken through to an additional dining area. This area, while it also retained the opulence of the early 1900s – was more of a casual space, with memorabilia adorning the walls. The concept of this was strong and it pulled together ticket stubs, itineraries and travel posters – however in this case, less is more. As much as the grand room commands respect, the sheer volume of it does means that it does feel a little bit like a Frankie and Bennies in terms of novelty.
Of course, you aren’t reading this to find out my inner thoughts about cornicing and Victorian design; so onto the real attraction – food.
The four-course menu was fairly extensive when compared to others we’ve ordered from in the past – we didn’t have any trouble in finding something we’d like.
Haggis bon bon served with a garlic and herb mayonnaise
A little pre-starter, we each received a single bon bon – we thought this was a cute little addition to the menu – and we’re both suckers for anything that includes haggis!
Calamari with coriander, chilli, spring onion and lemon mayo
Caesar Salad with cos lettuce, rustic croutons, anchovies. Grana Padano and traditional Caesar dressing.
I’m a total sucker for calamari when I go out as it isn’t something I’d make at home, so I quite often opt for that straight off the bat. Simon went for a Caesar Salad and reported back that it was really nice, though he did pick out the anchovies and leave them on my plate.
Jospered roast loin of pork with creamy mashed potato, glazed carrots, braised red cabbage and cider jus
The Anchor Line Burger with melted smoked cheddar, caramelised onions, seeded brioche bun, house slaw and skinny fries.
Jospered pork is cooked in a hybrid grill and oven – this means that the meat gets all the flavour of grilling but retains the moisture due to the oven. The mashed potato was lovely, as was the pork – but the highlight really was the braised cabbage, I could have easily eaten a whole portion of this on its own.
The burger was cooked beautifully, with the toppings well-matched. When we read ‘skinny fries’ we expected something akin to French fries, instead these were teeny tiny sticks – very cute but also incredible awkward to eat easily.
Affogato: Dairy vanilla ice cream, shot of hot espresso & tablet (V)
Chocolate and caramel cheesecake with toffee popcorn, almond brittle and salted caramel sauce (V)
Because what else is there to have at 9pm other than coffee! This was Simon’s order, he doesn’t have a super sweet tooth and would always opt for something sugary and chewy over chocolate. I went for the cheesecake and it was insane. The base was quite a surprise, it was denser than a traditional cheesecake base – but this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The dessert all in was very indulgent and it isn’t often that I’m unable to finish a pudding but even I have my limits! I’d 100% order this again, but maybe I’d try to leave myself a bit of room.
The food was all cooked well and the presentation couldn’t be faulted – neither could the service – we found the waiting staff to be very attentive despite the constant buzz and contending with the ever-present facemasks.
Included in our booking was a choice of three cocktails, so we both ordered their Raspberry Mule: Finlandia, Lejay Framboise, fresh lime juice, sugar and ginger beer. I’ve never tried ginger beer in any iteration before, but I did enjoy it within this cocktail – it had a tartness that I found surprising, but it was really enjoyable.
So, the real reason you’ve made it this far – would I return?
In short – yes. The Anchor Line offers an environment that allows the opulence and excitement of a high-class experience, even for a short while.
Where to next?
The Absent Ear is – in my opinion – the most exciting bar I’ve visited in a long time. A speakeasy located in the merchant city, I can’t tell you too much other than to head to their Instagram.