This post is a bit late because I was humming and hawing over whether to use it or not but I decided today to put it on so here goes…
I know Byres Road pretty well as I work nearby so go for post-work dinner regularly. On the corner of Byres Road is The Hilton Hotel & the restaurant attached is called Bo’Vine. It is a fancy steak restaurant that opened in 2010. For me their appeal is their excellent value pre-theatre menu, where you can get two courses including a rib eye steak for £14.50.
We ordered drinks and I went straight to the red wine because there was no doubt in my mind that i was having steak. I’ve been in here before and they do a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir, so nice that I bought a case of it online afterwards.
To start we both ordered the Stornoway black pudding, poached hens egg, pancetta & red wine jus. This, or a variation of, is a tried and tested starter with me that I know I like in restaurants. I’m sure I’ll have written about my black pudding love previously so I’ll not bore you. Anyway, this dish is like posh comfort food – it’s filling, a bit sinful but I know what I’m getting when I order it. The egg was perfectly runny and the jus was tasty.
The steak on the pre-theatre was chargrilled rib eye with triple cooked chips and a peppercorn sauce. I’m more of a bearnaise girl so I asked for bearnaise instead of peppercorn & I was told that there would be an extra charge for this.
The steaks arrived and we’d ordered a portion of truffled macaroni alongside it to try. Both of us enjoy a good macaroni but, shock horror, we didn’t like it. The pasta used was macaroni (I have a bugbear about places advertising macaroni then serving other types of pasta!) and I could taste truffle so as the description goes it was pretty accurate but we never enjoyed the dish. The sauce was like a white sauce with added truffle and it seriously lacked flavour & seasoning. We only ate a couple of mouthfuls each and then pushed it to the side.
On the other hand, Bo’Vine do excellent chips. Big, chunky fellas that are perfect for steak and dipping in a pot of steak sauce. They have obviously spent time and effort crafting a good quality product and I appreciate this.
Our steaks had that nice chargrilled flavour & the meat was flavoursome. My medium rare steak was undercooked but I enjoyed it nonetheless. We never discussed until we were almost finished that my dining companions rare steak was overcooked so I think they got our steaks mixed up when they put them down. I have always wondered how steak restaurant staff know which steak is which and what their system is. Do they put coloured cocktail sticks in them and remove them on the pass? Anyway, it’s an easy mistake to make & didn’t ruin our meal although I know some diners would have sent them back.
We ploughed on like the troopers that we are to have a dessert to write about. A pannacotta and a brownie were ordered for reporting purposes. The vanilla pannacotta was served with ice-cream & was rich and creamy but lacking in something. Another taste like a coulis would have added a lacking element to the dish.
My chocolate and peanut butter brownie was soft but not moist enough for me and lacking in peanut butter flavour. It was fine but not fantastic – a real shame because I have tried the doughnuts & sundae in here on previous occasions and they were both delicious.
When the bill arrived I had indeed been charged extra for my bearnaise sauce – £3 extra. This is where they make their money then. Hmm.
The reason I wasn’t sure whether to publish this post was because I enjoyed this visit less than I’d enjoyed previous visits so I felt it unfair to write negative feedback. I have been trying to pinpoint my general thoughts about Bo’Vine and this is what I’ve come up with. It’s a bit pretentious in decor & formal staff but this probably does not bother much of their clientele of businessmen and women staying at the hotel. Personally I feel that if they toned that down then it would be a better place. The steak is of a high quality but for me this is firmly in the pre-theatre category because it’s expensive and, quite frankly, there are other Glasgow steak restaurants that I like the ambience of better. But, the pre-theatre menu offers great value & it’s the only steak place around Byres Road, and I like the wine. They are also very patient letting you sit for a while after your meal so that’s another plus point. I’ll go back but I guess Bo’Vine has captured my head but not my heart. I don’t feel romantic about it in the same way I often do about places that I’m loyal to. I’m a bit of a sap like that! I’ve always liked the Michel De Montaigne quote ‘the art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure not a slight pleasure’ and this is how I see it. Maybe Bo’Vine is a grower, we’ll see.