“ Address: City Centre / 111 Hope Street / Glasgow G2 6LL / Scotland „
Had a very questionable shin of beef. Definitely reheated and maybe a week old. We were in the merchant city Ad Lib, a really nice venue with marble walls and the service was good too. The food totally let them down. Reheated last weeks "beef" and a cold burger on a flacid bun with brown lettuce is hardly the all american experience. It was dreadful and the wine was pretty vinegary too. You can see into the kitchen and really that should have tipped us off, did not look clean at all. Chefs all working with filthy jackets and tea towels. I was really dissapointed because Ad Lib has a good reputation. No one should have served up those dishes, it was very unpleasant. I wont be going back, especially as it is very overpriced. You could eat for less in London or Paris, who are they kidding? Forget about it.
This review deals with my search for the perfect burger in Glasgow. Believe me when I tell you it was a long journey trying out many restaurants trying to pass off cheap meat squashed in a bun and calling it a proper burger, but it had to be done! My husband and I had followed numerous recommendations from friends and articles we had seen in the paper, all of who apparently had no taste buds. We tried restaurants such as All Bar One and The Filling Station with no luck. The burgers from these places just seemed bland and boring, so the searched continued. Finally, one day my husband was told by a friend to try Ad Lib, and there we found the holy grail of burgers.
There are actually two Ad Lib locations within Glasgow. There is one little gem located on Hope Street, right across from the Central Station and the other is located on Ingram Street in the Merchant City.
I will be reviewing the Hope Street location, although certainly both locations will serve the same food.
Once you spot the trademark orange and black sign and look in the window, you can immediately see that the place boasts a relaxed atmosphere, which is fine by me being a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. Ad Lib is actually split into two parts, which is actually quite clever. As you walk through the door you enter into the bar.
The bar has seats located on two walls and most tables are big enough to seat two people. This area is for people who are looking to order both drinks and food at the bar for themselves. This will result in a quicker dining experience, perfect for customers coming in on a lunch break. Or if a person, or group of people just want to sit by the front window and watch the world go by, enjoying a bit of food and a good drink then that's the perfect place to sit.
As you make your way past the bar you will enter the restaurant. This is where my husband and I usually choose to sit. There are both tables and booths in this area that can seat four people, but if you book in advance they can accommodate larger parties. The restaurant has a tastefully decorated New York theme dining area. Pictures of important figures in American history adorn the walls, as well as huge canvases of New York City skylines.
Located at the back of the restaurant is the kitchen. I mention this because the kitchen has a see-through design. I think it is always a sign of quality when an establishment feels confident enough in itself to let patrons watch everything going on in the kitchen. The only bad aspect about this is, if you come to Ad Lib hungry you will find yourself not listening to the person you are with because you will be so distracted by all the delicious looking food coming to the pass!
The evening is my favorite time to eat at Ad Lib. In the restaurant during the evening they dim the lights and the lit candles on the wooden tables provide a soft glow that makes it easy to unwind and enjoy good food and conversation.
One of best features of the restaurant anytime of day is the vast glass ceiling. I love just sitting inside the cozy restaurant waiting for some piping hot food while I watch the rain batter down on the ceiling.
Every time I have eaten at Ad Lib the staff have always been quick and friendly. They always make sure you have everything you need, but are not obnoxious about it coming and asking every two seconds. Food is always brought to the table as soon as it hits the pass and they are fast when you ask for the bill. I also like the fact that no one in the place wears any cheesy looking uniform. All the staff simply dress in black outfits, which keeps with clean and sleek look of the place.
Onto the most important element of Ad Lib, the food! Ad Lib promotes itself as a "New York style eatery with a strong emphasis on traditional North American and Deep South cuisine." The restaurant menu contains a variety of different dishes such as jambalaya, curry, salads, soul food, steaks, and ribs. There is also a blackboard located at the front end of the restaurant that lists the daily specials. There are usually around 5 specials that are changed daily. Now, all these other dishes without a doubt sound delicious, but as I stated earlier it's all about the burgers.
These are not just any burgers, but gourmet burgers. Every time I eat at Ad Lib I can't bring myself to order another dish instead of my favorite burger, that's how excellent they are! Each burger is made up of 100% Aberdeen Angus beef and hand formed into a perfect patty. The burgers are always cooked to perfection and remain tender and juicy.
I always order the: Classic Angus burger topped with Stilton and red onion chutney. All the elements of that burger compliment each other so well, the creamy rich cheese, sweet red onions, and succulent beef. The burger is also topped with a salad of mixed leaves and slices of tomato, all sitting upon a fat toasted sesame seed bun. All gourmet burgers come with chips. The chips are lovely as well. Golden shoestring chips that are always crispy and lightly salted. Waiters will bring a selection of ketchup, mayonnaise, and malt vinegar to the table once a burger has been ordered.
Last time my husband and I went to Ad Lib we brought my brother-in-law for the first time. He ordered the Southern fried chicken burger with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. He absolutely loved it and by the end of the meal he was a member of the clean plate club.
Other types of burgers include: lamb, vegetarian, and chicken.
I do have to say the portions are quite generous and I am usually hard pressed to clear my plate, so I promise that you won't leave hungry.
The prices are more than reasonable for the portion size as I mentioned before. At dinnertime gourmet burgers are priced at £8.95, while at lunch they come in at £7.95. Salads are in the same price range as burgers.
The bigger soul food dishes range anywhere from £10 -£14 with the more expensive end containing meat such as duck.
Starters range from soup at £3.50 to chilli at £6. Sides are around £3 which includes onion rings, chips, rice, corn bread, and garlic bread to name a few. I have tried the garlic bread and like all the rest of the food it was great.
Decadent desserts all come in at £4.50 for items such as cheesecake, brownie, cobbler, and waffle sundae. I cannot comment on desserts although I have seen them ordered and they do look yummy. If I ate my main meal plus a dessert I would either need to go for a nap in the booth or find someone to carry me home.
I highly recommend anyone who is in Glasgow and hasn't been to Ad Lib, to take your own burger pilgrimage. I do suggest booking a table, as it can get busy at lunch and at dinnertime on the weekends. This can be done by phone or online. However, if you live in Glasgow and cannot make it to the restaurant and would still like to try the food the Merchant City location offers delivery 7 days a week from 5pm-10pm.
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One of the best eateries in town. The gourmet burgers are highly recommended!