Every time I’m in Glasgow, which isn’t as often as I’d like, a wander from Queen Street to Rab Ha’s is in order – and has been for years.
Not many pubs hook you that length of time, but Rab Ha’s does. Drinking there last weekend, someone asked me how long I’d been going there. Totting up, I was amazed it was well on sixteen years – at least. A Glasgow-based friend of mine reckons it’s the best pub in the city.
It’s just a short walk from George Square, and it’s a place that has achieved a completely relaxed atmosphere all the time I’ve known it; which speaks of eating food and good company in laughing afternoon sessions the minute you walk in. All pubs should essentially be this way. There’s forever a time when you end up in the wrong ones, for whatever reason, so you know straight away the firelight welcome signs of a place like Rab’s.
There’s always a range of good beers – and this time I was sampling Belhaven Black, a Scottish Stout I’d never tried before. It was excellent, although as always with thick stout I need to change drinks if more than one or two is suddenly on the cards. But in the chilly interim, it’s a dark, flowy delight, and not unlike my old memories of discovering Murphy’s – and the epiphany that Guinness wasn’t the only Irish stout in Thatcher’s Britain. The Belhaven has a testy coffee-like bite, in a good way, and was really well chilled and poured.
Rab Ha’s has a restaurant downstairs, but I’ve only ever eaten in the bar, and the service there is always excellent and cheery. They have a quick bites offer now with some brilliant stuff on that menu. I had a wonderful smokey, haddock-chunky & creamy Cullen Skink with some crusty bread, and around the table there was folk eating haggis, and nachos and all manner of stuff, including, I think, actual haggis nachos.
Every plateful was devoured and praised. You see, in all the years I’ve been to this pub, no one has ever complained about their robust, fairly-priced food. It takes time passing to know just how special that is, and it may well be that I’ve also eaten their Cullen Skink for sixteen years without realising.
We had to leave to go on somewhere else, and as always I was a wee bit sad. I like Rab Ha’s and am jealous of Glaswegians who get to go there whenever a proper pint and peace of mind are calling. The great thing of course is that Rab Ha’s is also a hotel, so you could basically live there if you wanted.