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…

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • 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: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Wakefield Deal...

    Guru Careers: .NET Developers / Software Developers

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: our .NET Developers / Software Dev...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?