If you like both curry and beer (who doesn’t?!) then Crossing the Rubicon is for you. It’s a new bar in Glasgow’s West End specialising in two of the world’s greatest inventions; beer and curry. I was invited to the #bloggingtherubicon event a week or two ago where we were very generously treated to a glass of fizz on arrival followed by a tasting session of their menu and free range on the beers!
The layout is ideal for this kind of bar/restaurant set up. Crossing the Rubicon can fall into both categories; someone looking for a bar in the West End with a great beer selection or someone purely looking for a delicious curry would both be suitably content. When you first walk in there is a bar area with some casual tables to either sit with your drink or order food in a more pub style setting, and up some stairs to your left there is a more formal dining area. I say formal but it’s very cosy and relaxed, just you’re away from the busy bar area so it has more of a restaurant feel. The décor is amazing with lots of intricate hand painted animal designs including elephants and tigers which couldn’t be more up my street. Maxine Barrie, the General Manager at Crossing the Rubicon was lovely and made everyone feel so, so welcome. The rest of the staff were equally great and very knowledgeable of the menu.
We started the night with poppadoms and a selection of chutneys. Spiced onions are one of my favourite things at Indian restaurants and they didn’t disappoint. We were then brought vegetarian starters including vegetarian haggis pakoras swiftly followed by their meaty equivalents. The crispy chicken was cooked to absolute perfection – so juicy! Then came a tasting selection of the main courses alongside a roti. We started with vegetarian dishes and ended with two of the meat curries. All the dishes we had were delicious but the stand out ones for me where the chana chat, roast carrot and sweet potato korma and the butter chicken. The chana chat (a side dish) was a cold, almost salsa like dish. It was extremely light and fresh and was a great accompaniment to curry and bread which can be quite heavy. I love butter chicken and Crossing the Rubicon’s version was very, very good. Creamy but with lots of powerful spice flavours. For most people I spoke to, the roast carrot and sweet potato korma was the real star of the show. You would not be able to tell it was vegan and I would choose it over any chicken korma I’ve had. Beautifully sweet, creamy and aromatic and the sweet potatoes were cooked just right to avoid it being too mushy. Really, really recommend this dish for any meat eaters who think a dish without meat just doesn’t compare. All the dishes at CTR are quite small, so I’d recommend one and a half or two per person which is great as it’s so hard to choose just one!
The beer selection was good and had a nice mixture of Scottish beers as well as things from further afield. I didn’t specifically match beers to dishes as we were trying so many different things. I’ve attached an image of the guest beer list so you can see the kinds of things they have on… however my photography skills are somewhat lacking and it’s quite hard to read so you’ll just have to go in and see for yourself! There’s always a big selection of Williams Bros and Drygate with other breweries featuring on a rotational basis. For fear of making this longer than my dissertation, I won’t go into all the beers I tried, just focus on the ones that really stood out for me as good curry pairings.
Disco Forklift Truck, a mango infused ale by Drygate is a great beer to go with drier curries or starters. It’s very sweet and juicy so pairing it with a creamy curry might feel a bit too much whereas it adds that extra depth to starters like bhajis or pakoras. I had the Wylam/Yeastie Boys XPIPA (they were playing Beastie Boys as I was looking at the menu so I couldn’t resist) which for me, is a great match for creamy curries. Hoppy beers tend to be bitter and bitter tastes help to cut through fat and intensify the rest of the flavours in food. Therefore strong IPAs like the XPIPA compliment curries which have a higher cream intensity than spice flavour like a tikka masala or korma etc. XPIPA was a beautiful IPA, initial hits of citrus fruits followed by a dry, peppery/piney finish which made for a very interesting and enjoyable flavour combination. My preferred match for richer, spicier curries are lightly hopped golden style ales, giving the same bitterness to cut through the oil and cream but not overpowering the curry spices with intense floral, fruity hop flavours. Although I didn’t try it at the time, something like Speyside Bow Fiddle Blonde would have been ideal.
And finally, drumroll please…….. my beer of the night was…………. Cross Borders’ Porter! A beautifully rich chocolate, coffee porter with a light effervescence to keep the beer from feeling too heavy. It went beautifully with the sweet potato korma just to taste, but I think the pairing would have been too rich for full size portions. A light stout like this would be the perfect way to end a heavy curry meal if you’re still craving those rich, chocolatey/coffee flavours we associate with desserts without the further heaviness that accompanies them. This was the first beer I’ve tried from Cross Borders, a Dalkeith based brewery, so I hope the rest of their wares are as good and will definitely be looking out for them in the future.
In short, I was very impressed with Crossing the Rubicon – great decor, great food and great beer!
♥ 372 Great Western Road, Glasgow G4 9HT ♥