You could spend a very happy afternoon crawling the bars, cafes and restaurants of Great Western Road. Once a grubby, traffic-clogged nightmare, it now plays host to bar and restaurant openings seemingly every other week. They don’t all have staying power however. The Hug and Pint at number 171 fills the space that the Roxy 171 previously occupied, and before that it was the Liquid Ship. Both long gone after finding the lower end of GWR a challenging place to do business.
The Hug and Pint plays it effortlessly cool. It’s the brainchild of Brian Reynolds of Synergy Concerts and Colin Campbell of sadly departed GWR bar the Squid and the Whale, both of whom share a passion for music. Even the name is a nod to perennial indie favourites Arab Strap. THaP is a music venue first and foremost but they’re obviously aware that food and drink keep the lights on. At 5pm on a Saturday the bar is quiet and there are only a few diners. But the proliferation of “reserved” signs tells me we’re just unfashionably early and it’ll liven up later.
So what makes the Hug and Pint any different to those other joints that have come and gone? Well the food would seem a natural place to start. Here it’s Asian-inspired vegan fair from a menu of 5 or so dishes that changes constantly. My own efforts at veganism are strictly part time. I manage Monday to Friday but don’t strictly adhere at the weekend and it’s a balance I’m happy with. So on this Saturday visit I was selflessly sacrificing meat in favour of something I’d heard was rather special.
Today the choices all sounded good but we went for the jackfruit curry and sichuan style tofu, both served with steamed rice. Alongside the 5 mains is a choice of sides and I opted for white miso soup while my other half had the potato and coriander soup. I’d eaten jackfruit before in shredded form that did a decent job of imitating pulled pork. In this curry though it was a far starchier presence and gave some much needed bite in the absence of the usual protein.
The curry itself was bursting with flavour and delivered a decent kick that was mellowed out by the coconut milk. The white miso soup was an unspectacular accompaniment. It packed plenty of that familiar umami favour and had enough wakame seaweed and tofu to bulk it out a little but there was nothing special about it. Across the table a steaming bowl of sichuan-style tofu was duly devoured. Tofu can be bland and textureless but, having been fried, this had a bit more body to it. Tossed in a salty, fiery sauce with chili peppers and vegetables it was a satisfying and hearty bowl of food. The potato and coriander soup was thick, well-seasoned and full of fresh coriander flavour, but regrettably it was served lukewarm. Something of a pet hate I must admit.
The Hug and Pint delivered exactly what I was expecting. Unpretentious, flavoursome vegan food served in a casual setting you’d happily linger in for a few pints. The next time I find myself down that end of Great Western Rd I’ll definitely be back in. Two hearty bowls of food, two sides and four beers came to around £30 which even an omnivore would have to agree was great value.
The Hug and Pint
171 Great Western Rd
0141 331 1901
A creative take on vegan food
The jackfruit curry was a high point