The Left Bank, now a Gibson Street institution, opened in 2006 to awards and shiny reviews for its luscious, innovative take on Scottish cuisine. Since then it has drawn a steady crowd of students, academics, and locals. It was a hotspot of the Glasgow University geography department, the gathering point for celebrations whenever someone completed their PhD, and during graduation, don’t expect to get in.
While it’s famous and frequently reviewed for its excellent food, I visited at 9pm to have a couple of drinks. The interior hasn’t changed since it opened in 2006, or since I was last there in 2012, with its distinctive split-level architecture, tables and comfy sofas (they are incredibly comfy) hidden around corners or up the stairs on the mezzanine level. The mix of glass panels, brick, and wood is fashionable, the exposed brick combined with modern materials seemingly a thing in a lot of bars and restaurants these days aiming for that look that is both ‘retro’ and postmodern. At least the Left Bank wears it easily, like it’s not trying too hard to be cool. It just is.
If you want a quiet drink midweek and don’t want to fight the crowds or overly loud music in a busy venue, I recommend it. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed; you can have a conversation with your mates without shouting, something I always look for in a bar. It’s unsurprisingly busy at meal times but seems to clear out around 9 – at least on a Wednesday – so you can find a seat and be very chilled out about the whole experience.
The bar has a small selection of beers on draught, but they have been chosen by someone who knows they don’t have many pumps and selected their beer with care: Tennent’s, Staropramen, Drygate Pilsner, Joker IPA, and a rotating craft beer, which was Fraoch the night I was there, as well as bottles from the Williams Brothers’ brewery. Unfortunately, the Fraoch was off that evening, but Joker is always a reliable favourite for the microbrew enthusiast.
For whisky lovers, there is a reasonable selection, about a dozen malts, some of them pretty rare like a 41 year Ardmore. It’s mainly a restaurant, so it carries the extensive wine list you’d expect from a good restaurant. But where it prides itself are its cocktails, of which there are a wide array, from classics like Martinis, Margaritas, and Manhattans, to their own concoctions with names like Highand Rose or the Symphony. I’m not a frequent cocktail drinker nor a particularly discerning one, but in James Bond style I tried a Martini and all I can really say is that it was an excellent Martini.
The only real downside is that it’s relatively expensive. A pint cost nearly £5 and cocktails are more than £7. Nonetheless, for a relaxed night out or for boldly trying inventive cocktails, it’s a delightful little bar.
The Left Bank
33-35 Gibson Street G12 8NU
0141 339 5969