So you know when you visit a restaurant, and you’re asked if you’ve been before? It gets really confusing with chains: so yes, we drank oversized cocktails from souvenir glasses on the first night of our New York honeymoon; but no, we know it’s been two years now but we hadn’t been to Hard Rock Cafe Glasgow…
Given its ethos, you’d think I’d be a huge fan of the Hard Rock Cafe concept – but in a city that’s not short on options for burgers, fries, cocktails or live music it’s just not a place I’ve ever thought to visit. My ignorance means I’ve spent two years without a clue that some of Glasgow’s most relevant-to-my-interests treasures are hidden within the hollowed-out 19th century Atheanaeum Theatre at the top of Buchanan Street.
But we’ll get to that later, because mine and Stringer’s recent Sunday night visit came on the back of the food. For Winter 2015, Hard Rock Cafe has created an “Autumnal Burger” and cocktail pairings that my beloved could hardly resist. It’s a smoky, double decker treat topped with caramelised apple slices, nduja fiery pork pâté, feta cheese and spring mix on a toasted brioche bun. While there are at least three reasons not to order one for me in that description, Stringer approached my order to try the limited edition offering with neither a complaint, nor a crumb left.
The burger is designed to be enjoyed with a seasonal spiced mulled cider, but Stringer was more drawn to the Christmas cocktail menu. Pictured is the frankly ludicrous She’s My Apple Pie: fireball cinnamon whiskey, apple and pineapple juices, Monin salted caramel and Angry Orchard hard cider, topped with whipped cream and a cinnamon crisp that your wife is almost certain to eat half of.
With it being a Sunday night and some of us still having office jobs, I had the mulled cider instead – what it lacked in stage presence (hence the lack of photo) it made up for in rich, warming deliciousness. I kept it simple with a bacon cheeseburger, which I believe I have now eaten in Hard Rock Cafes in three different countries. It’s a slightly pricey take on one of my all-time favourite food genres, but there’s a reason I keep coming back for more.
The Hard Rock Cafe experience is as much about the atmosphere as some guaranteed good food though, and our visit was no different. The Glasgow restaurant hosts live music most nights (our Sunday dinner was accompanied by some lacklustre acoustic rock cover set, but you’ll find great Glasgow bands in there most weeknights) as well as the usual selection of music memorabilia. Our lovely waitress Shelaine was kind enough to offer us a tour of the private dining space and additional bar upstairs where we found Stuart Adamson’s guitar, one of Angus Young’s schoolboy outfits and a couple of seats saved from the old Atheanaeum Theatre.
But that wasn’t what I gravitated towards.
You don’t even have to be a long-time reader around here to know about my love for the E-Street Band – I mean, my cats are even named after them – so to find that the (non-feline) Big Man’s kilt and bagpipes had been in Glasgow all this time was a wee bit emotional. Please excuse the blurry, crappy iPhone nature of these pics as I may have had something in my eye, especially when I read the little plaque about how the bagpipes had been a present from Danny Federici…
Oh, and there was also the small matter of the chocolate brownie I hadn’t been able to finish just 10 minutes prior. Given that me taking on dessert and losing is one of the impending signs of the apocalypse it’s no wonder I was feeling a little out of sorts by then.
I dare you to have done better though.
One thing I was a little disappointed by during our visit and tour was the lack of women represented by the music memorabilia on show: the restaurant had one of KT Tunstall’s guitars and I found a couple of Tori Amos tour posters, but that was it. Of course I raised it with Shelaine who’s now not going to be able to look at her workplace in the same way again – so sorry about that, but it had to be said…
The Autumnal Burger and Christmas cocktail menu will be available at the Hard Rock Cafes in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow until 3rd January 2016 only – will you be heading down?
DISCLAIMER: I was invited for a meal as a guest of Hard Rock Cafe, but all opinions are honest and unbiased. See my full disclosure policy.