Review: Cocktail & Burger, Sauchiehall Street
We went to Cocktail & Burger, one of the “coolest” joints in town at the moment, last Saturday around 9pm, and the place was absolutely packed. We went in with high expectations from word-of-mouth and other reviews, but had such a bad time with the staff and service that we were left with a bad taste in the mouth. Read on to find out where C&B fails and why you probably shouldn’t bother.
When you walk into Cocktail & Burger it immediately impresses with its bustling atmosphere, great music and informal decor. We were immediately plunged into confusion however as we approached the area where, presumably, you wait to be seated. We milled here awkwardly for the best part of 5 minutes trying to catch a member of staff’s eye to no avail as they rushed around looking everywhere but at us. Eventually, the only friendly and diligent member of staff in the place (as was proven time and again throughout the evening) – a long-haired, beared, plaid-shirt wearing gentleman – spotted us and came over to greet us. We were advised that there would be about a 20 minute wait for a table, which was fine, but offered us a nice spot at the bar and a couple of menus for perusal.
We ordered our first round of drinks at the bar, opting for a Classic Mojito and a Pineapple and Ginger Martini. These were both absolutely fantastic, the Mojito being far and away the tastiest I’ve had in Glasgow. Many bars around the city tend to get a bit crazy with the mint and forget that lime is a major ingredient in this drink too – this did not have that problem. The Martini was spicy, fruity and simply delicious. The majority of the cocktails on offer here come in at around £4 to £6 which, for such quality, really does represent good value.
After about 20 minutes, in what would turn out to be an unusual twist of timeliness, our friendly server came back and ushered us to a table. The tables are small, but comfortable, with dim, low hanging lights adding to the ambiance. Unfortunately this gesture was the last trace of anything even remotely resembling timeliness of the evening as, another 20 minutes later, we had well and truly sucked the ice of the Mojito dry and seemed no closer to ordering anything else. This is where the service went from bad to terrible and, looking around, we weren’t the only ones having this problem. More than half of the tables had no drinks, no plates, no nothing. Just a room full of frustrated diners. We felt lucky even to have our empty cocktail glasses from 40 minutes ago.
The staff swan around with such an air of arrogance that this inability to do what their very job description entails does not even begin to justify. This place is a glorified bar. Customers are here willing to spend money. Take as long as you like with the food but serve us some bloody drinks!
Eventually, our friendly, hairy waiter came back, apologised profusely and genuinely (which was nice) and we ordered a couple of burgers with fries and 2 pints of their house lager. 15 minutes later (sigh) the house lager arrived in iced glasses. This was a pretty light, refreshing lager. Nice enough, but nothing remarkable.
Another 30 minutes passed and our burgers arrived. Not before, mind you, the table directly next to us who arrived after our beers had both their drinks and food delivered.
Burgers in C&B are permanently 2 for 1. If you opt to have them with fries (and why wouldn’t you), you’re generally looking at around £10 to £13 per meal which, of course, is extremely cheap. Quality-wise the burgers were good, but not great. I opted for a standard beef patty with mature cheddar cheese and cured bacon. Everything was cooked nicely and the whole thing was extremely juicy, however the real let down came in the form of the bun. C&B wrap all of their burgers in a beautiful (looking) brioche bun. Normally a fantastic choice, but these were just far too sweet and completely clashed with the savoury meatiness of the rest of the burger. My dining companion, being vegetarian, opted for the Club Med; roasted vegetables and grilled halloumi. This one was a bit of a let-down all round; very dry and no tastier than your average Scream pub. On the table was a really nice selection of condiments, including a dangerously spicy local Glasgow hot sauce. I love to see bars and restaurants supporting local products like this, and it’s a great addition to the table.
After our food, we were in the mood for another cocktail but it took yet another 30 minutes for someone to even come and clear our plates. We still thought about ordering as they were just so good, but were so exasperated by the evening up to then that we just got the bill and made tracks for somewhere else.
All in all, Cocktail & Burger is serving brilliant cocktails and decent quality food, all at very reasonable prices. If the service was even mediocre I would recommend the place in a heartbeat. However when the service fails so categorically and so consistently, to the extent that it’s constantly in your mind that you should have something or should be ordering something, it’s completely impossible to recommend. Customer service should be such that it falls into the background with everything being quick, easy and reliable – at Cocktail & Burger you feel like you’ve worked a shift by the time you leave.