Review: Bobar, Byres Road

Bobar’s never had much of a good name. Accused in the past of being too expensive, too corporate, too bland – I really went in with pretty low expectations. These didn’t last long.

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The atmosphere, granted, was poor. On a Thursday night the majority of West End bars will be bustling with a vibrant crowd. This place is big, with no dividing walls (and therefore nowhere to hide) and there were only at best 3 tables full in the entire place. They boast live music every Thursday but, half an hour after the scheduled time, it didn’t look like it was going to happen at all. I queried the staff about this and, 5 minutes later the lone entertainer was setting up his mic and guitar. Another 30 minutes later when we left there was still nothing happening, with the musician seeming more content to have a drink that entertain anyone.

The thing is, I don’t blame him. Bobar bills itself as cocktail bar, and this is where it truly shines. We were fortunate enough to sample some of the delights from their new spring cocktail menu which (at least when we attended a couple of days ago) has not yet been released to the public. Naturally, we tried a few! On offer here is the usual selection of classics along with a few interesting twists, such as the delicious Pear & Coriander Sidecar which I tried, or my dining companion’s cherry-infused twist on an Old Fashioned. The pick of the pile however, and a drink which alone made the entire evening worthwhile, was the Bang Tidy; a delicious, sharp, lemon based cocktail which will go down wonderfully on a summer’s day (or any other day for that matter). At around £6.50 a pop, it is possible to pay less in the city, however the quality really is there at Bobar.

To go with our drinks, we ordered a selection of tapas style mini-plates to eat. Monday to Thursday these are £10 for 3, which represents fairly good value, and they’re the perfect accompaniment to a few drinks. There were 2 of us at Bobar, and we opted for 6 of these small plates, which turned out to be perfectly sufficient as a meal. Like the drinks, these were mainly fantastic and beautifully presented, the undisputed highlight being Piquillo peppers stuffed with feta cheese. Spicy, sweet, creamy and unbelievably moreish, it would be worth getting 3 dishes of these for your tenner. I know what you’re thinking, how hard is it to put a piece of cheese inside a pepper? Not very! But I certainly couldn’t make them taste this good.

We also went for some “fiery” chicken wings which weren’t even remotely spicy but beautifully juicy and tender, merguez sausage skewers and lamb koftas which were a meaty joy, and a portion of potato chips. These were all served with a variety of dips and sauces, none of which were anything more than average but served as a nice accompaniment. The only real letdown were the Thai crab cakes which sounded so good but delivered so little. They somehow managed to be overseasoned but at the same time entirely flavourless and so overcooked they had become positively chewy. I left them alone and jammed another Piquillo pepper in my mouth.

All in all we had a delightful evening in Bobar. The staff were friendly and professional, the food was delicious if a tad inconsistent and the cocktails were some of the finest I’ve tasted in Glasgow. If you go for no other reason than to try the Bang Tidy, you won’t be disappointed.

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