“ Address: 3-7 Elmbank Crescent / Glasgow G2 4NQ / United Kingdom „
Whilst in Glasgow a couple of months ago to attend a concert, we had booked into the Charing Cross Premier Inn which is conveniently situated right next to Charing Cross station. Although, there was a bar and restaurant at the hotel, there were plenty of options to eat out with Sauchiehall Street just a five minute walk away, but even more convenient was The Baby Grand bar and restaurant situated right opposite the hotel, quite literally a few steps from the entrance. Behind the Baby Grand is the King's Theatre, which means this is a very well appointed bar and restaurant, popular with customers from Glasgow's Theatreland and also the Premier Inn of course.
The Baby Grand at Charing Cross has been a Glasgow institution for over 25 years now and despite being very small inside, seems very popular both day and night. It opens at 8am on a morning and serves homecooked breakfasts and various coffees, which is a great alternative again to eating breakfast at the hotel. The lunch menu follows, at a tempting £6.95 for 2 courses. In the evenings, both pre and post theatre menus are available.
We were staying at the Premier Inn for two nights and on the first evening, we decided to eat at the Baby Grand before taking a wander round to Sauchiehall Street.
What struck me as we first entered the bar/restaurant was just how small it was, but also how cosy it appeared.
As you walk in there is a long, thin bar to your left with an open kitchen at the end of the bar. A row of small tables are in front of the bar and there are a small amount of tables on a slightly raised area at the back of the room also. Separating the two tables and seating areas is a baby grand piano (which explains the name!)
There is a lot of dark wood and low lighting with flickering candles on each table and I loved its cosy, charming feel as we walked in and I can't recall ever being in a restaurant before where you can see your meals being cooked, so this was a new experience for me.
Being so small, it seemed to be full, but we managed to secure the only available table in front of the bar. The tables were very close together which is something I am not very keen on when eating out I must admit, but because of the limited space there is nothing really that can be done about this.
At first glance there didn't seem to be a great deal of variety on the menu, but I then noticed some dishes chalked up on the blackboards on the walls and also there was another 'pre theatre' menu which offered two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £13.95 which seemed a good deal. We didn't fancy three courses as can rarely manage a dessert, but we were tempted by a starter and main course maybe and so looked at this menu first.
There was four starters to choose from, soup of the day, pate, garlic mushroom bruschetta or steamed mussles. Mains were a choice of five with a Chargrilled Aberdeen Angus beefburger, Penne pasta with homemade Pesto, Beer battered fish, Marinated Chicken or Toulouse sausage and white bean cassoulet making up this section. Finally, there were three desserts of ice cream, cheesecake or chocolate brownie.
There was an A la Carte menu too, but I think this was for the later diners as a 'post theatre' menu.
We studied the starters and I asked a member of staff what the soup of the day was, but unfortunately it was one of the few soups I do not like. As I did not like the other starters on this menu and my partner wasn't too keen either on the other options, we decided to go with a main course only from the main menu instead.
I ordered the Chargrilled Aberdeen Angus Burger and my partner ordered a Gammon steak with fried egg and pineapple. You could see the chef getting to work right away on cooking our meals and we could see that the meals are all freshly cooked to order and nothing seemed to be frozen or bunged in a microwave!
Both dishes came with homemade chips and my burger also included a tomato pickle which I assumed would be served in a small dish. And it was, except I found it had also been smothered on the bun too and I personally prefer to do this myself. This didn't bother me at first when I received my meal, it is just a small personal preference of mine and as I can't recall eating a burger before where this has already been done, I didn't think to mention it when ordering that I didn't want the tomato pickle on my bun.
I had also opted for bacon and cheese on my burger which came at an extra cost of around 80p each item.
The portions were what I would describe as medium sized, neither small or large but fine for us. Both meals were well presented and and looked very appetising and the service from the staff was very friendly. Indeed the waitress spent some time chatting to us and we felt very welcome here at the Baby Grand.
We began eating our meals and as I took a bite of my burger I could immediately taste the tomato pickle, which I thought was ok at first, but another couple of mouthfuls and I realised I didn't really like this tomato pickle at all, as it had a sweet chilli taste about it which is something I really don't like. The burger itself was lovely, it was a homemade premium Aberdeen Angus burger cooked just how I had asked, of that there was no doubt, but unfortunately for me the taste of the tomato pickle was spoiling it.
I began scraping the tomato pickle off both the bun and the burger and tried using some mayonnaise to mask the remaining taste of pickle. Whilst I was able to eat the burger after doing this, it was too late to rescue the bun, as the tomato pickle couldn't really be removed enough for me to be able to eat it.
My partner on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed his pickle-free gammon.
When asked if everything was ok, I pointed out that I had not liked the tomato pickle and so couldn't eat all of my meal. The waitress was very apologetic and said I should have given her a shout, but I informed her I didn't like to complain really, as maybe I should have mentioned something when ordering and I had managed to eat the rest of my meal.
When we came to pay for our meals the bill was less than expected, we'd had a drink each too and paid £23 total which was around £3 less than it should have been and so a small amount had been deducted, which I did think was a nice touch.
I visited the toilets before we left. I found the ladies, although very clean, to be small, as was to be expected really and it was slightly awkward to get into the toilet cubicle and close the door without performing a tricky manoeuvre, due to the cramped space and positioning of the toilet roll dispenser. I find a lot of toilets are designed this way and it always makes me wonder how anyone overweight manages to get in and out of a toilet cubicle when they are small and cramped like this. I realise space is an issue, but maybe moving the door frames back slightly and/or moving toilet roll dispensers would make a considerable difference.
We visited the Baby Grand again on the morning we left Glasgow and enjoyed a couple of lovely Latte's before going for our train. The staff welcomed us back and although we didn't have time for breakfast, it did look very nice what we saw being served up!
Overall despite a couple of niggles, I did enjoy my visit to the Baby Grand and will visit again next time we stay there. And next time I know to mention about the tomato pickle, should I choose a burger again!
I understand that there is often someone there playing the baby piano, but there wasn't during our visit. This however, isn't something which I personally am bothered about either way. Indeed the overall ambience and friendly staff were enough for me. I am happy to recommend the Baby Grand, but due to being small you may want to book a table to ensure there will availability for you.
The Baby Grand
3 Elmbank Gardens
Glasgow G2 4NQ Tel. 0141 248 4942