What is a restaurant for, anyway? I mean, obviously it's somewhere that you expect to leave less hungry than you arrived, but other than that: what? Somewhere to spend time with people you know while prying - politely, of course - on people you don't? Somewhere to be looked after a bit, to experience the polished performance that is the result of so much unseen rehearsal? And perhaps somewhere to escape from the mundane thrum of the everyday by dabbling in a little bit of fantasy, a moreish slice of romantic nostalgia? All of these are what I think the restaurant Rogano, just off Glasgow's Buchanan Street is designed to do, and why the idea of eating there appealed to me so much. It didn't quite work out.
There's no doubting the impact of the place as you walk in. It was thrumming with life as we slalomed past white-clothed tables to our own on a brisk Friday night. Inside here it's still 1935, the year when the wonderful Art Deco interior was put together. It's all smooth edges and geometric beauty. I'm not so sure about the carpet, but the walnut-clad booths and banquets are of quite another age. I felt immediately underdressed.
The idea of serving seafood in classical preparations in a room like this sounds perfect. The menu looked simple, relying on the very best product, bought spanking fresh and not mucked about with, or so I presumed. At times that was true. At others, things were, like some sections of the interior, a bit tired out.
|Choose your weapon|
|Pan-fried west coast scallops with butternut purée and belly pork|
|Grilled lemon sole meunière|
|Grilled fillets of seabass, crabcake and tenderstem broccoli|
I've never been before, so I've got no idea if Rogano isn't quite what it used to be, or whether our experience is an atypical blip. However, it was hard to escape the sense that this is a institution trading rather too heavily on its reputation and of former glories. I love restaurants, and all the fandango that goes with them, but the food has to be good too, and too little of what we had at Rogano truly was.
11 Exchange Place
0141 248 4055