Restaurant review: Rogano is resolutely unfashionable but do its staff have to be so dismissive?

Rogano, 11 Exchange Place, Glasgow, tel: 0141 248 4055

Rude staff are something of a fixture of certain restaurants. That those restaurants keep going, and indeed become famous, says something about what we find entertaining in an evening out.

For instance, many young people visiting London for the first time will have had the formative experience of being screamed at by the door of Chinatown's Wong Kei. Then there's the "social Siberia" system that doesn't seem to be a bar to the Wolseley and Delaunay becoming wait-list-only places. It's not, before you rush to judgement, a "London thing".

I've recently been to a restaurant in Glasgow where the staff were spectacularly dismissive. One waitress tipped the finger bowl – the used finger bowl – over my guest and strolled away with barely a backward glance. Another waiter brought me a stack of breeze-block-sized chips when I ordered shoestring fries. No biggie, but could he swap them? A sigh, they disappeared and nothing came back. At least I didn't have to pay for them… and who needs carbs anyway?

So, Rogano is rude. But then, it has been serving Glaswegians since 1935 – it fashioned its Art Deco splendour on the Queen Mary ship being built on the city's Clyde docks.

The wonderful vintage lettering and red illuminated sign draw you in; among the gentrified Cath Kidston and Caffè Nero arrivistes of Gordon Street, the sheer history of Rogano is very settling. But inside, it only reveals its charms bit by bit – right near the back are curved banquettes and expansive tables, the ceiling made up of perfect Deco coloured glass. Clever to make a windowless bunker feel stylish. Staff swishing about in bow ties and long aprons helps, too, but I couldn't describe it as "warm".

To reach our table, the maître d' navigates past powerbrokers aplenty – it might be on the tourist trail, but the restaurant maintains its stately status after all this time. And a look at the menu confirms that a visit here is for those either on expenses or a Big Night Out (lunch is good value at £21.50, but it doesn't have Rogano's most famous dishes). What the bar offers is described by the restaurant in the most delightfully pompous terms: "For those whose schedules do not permit formal dining, or who wish to eat outwith restaurant hours."

Those famous dishes are the finest fish and seafood from Scotland's shores. Six Cumbrae oysters from West Kilbride at £11 are perfection; a heap of langoustines grilled in their shells with just a fragrant garlic-and-herb butter (£25.95) is worth getting splattered for. I can't remember the last time I've had such sweet, intense flavour from shellfish.

I'm so glad I chose them. It's almost enough for me – and my finger-bowl-soaked guest – to forget the haphazard service. He's unpausingly worked his way through a plate of seared scallops and pork belly, with local black pudding and white bean purée (£22.95). It's exemplary from the tiny corner I snatch, but a bit modish for such an unapologetically unfashionable place. Although… I also spot a cherry tomato and mozzarella side salad, and a goat's cheese and horseradish pannacotta on the menu. It seems a shame if Rogano, Glasgow's oldest restaurant, feels it has to nod to 21st-century tastes, rather than stick to its celebration of Scotland's smoked salmon, fruits de mer, crab and sole.

Puddings, we see with relief, are classic with the smallest of twists – or perhaps the 2009 Picpoul de Pinet from Beauvignac has softened my reserve – as the baked Alaska (£6.95) is tricked out with piña colada flavours – a coconut ice-cream and sticky pineapple work delightfully with the singed Darth Maul peaks of the meringue.

We have no space for "coffee and tablet" (tourists must wonder, is it a tradition to give an indigestion remedy at the end of dinner, or what?) The faintest of smiles from our waiter and the longest of waits for our coats, before we're back out of Rogano's front door.

Perhaps it models its service on the class system of the Queen Mary as well as its décor, discerning that hacks on a night out are strictly third-class. I'd happily come back for those langoustines, though. And perhaps keep my raincoat for speed and to avoid a soaking…

7.5/10

Rogano, 11 Exchange Place, Glasgow, tel: 0141 248 4055. £120 for two, with wine

Four more I've tried this week

Pret A Manger Has started selling kale sandwiches, tapping into the trend for leafy dark-green vegetables. It's less, um, moreish than the ham'n'cheese toastie, but I did feel more virtuous.

Dip & Flip Loving the super-tender meat sandwiches, served with a bowl of gravy for dipping, at this new arrival in Battersea Rise – also home to the best bacon cheeseburger in London, IMHO.

Mr Cooper's House & Garden From a keenly priced, eccentric menu at Simon Rogan's new restaurant in Manchester, I had sensational duck-and-sweet-potato casserole. Recommended.

The Fat Duck From the once-in-a-lifetime department, I "ate" a Campari and soda at Heston's place and drank a cup of Earl Grey that was simultaneously hot and cold. Still working that one out…

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence