It was all very 007ish, tuxedo, G&T in hand, lovely female on my arm – actually, it was nothing like that at all as I ventured forth to the Riverboat Casino for a meal and the chance to play a hand or two!
Located in the heart of the city and on the banks of Glasgow’s River Clyde, the casino is nothing special from the outside, in fact it’s rather dull, drab and nondescript. There is private secured parking available for guests along with a drop-off point located at the front door, but you will need a gate code for access, so phone in advance.
Disabled access is excellent with level entrances off the pavement to the reception area. The casino has disabled toilets along with a lift to the upper deck restaurant meaning diners do not need to enter the main playing floor.
Grosvenor Casinos now have an open-door policy in a move that welcomes all visitors to enjoy the facilities without any obligation to register as a member of the casino group.
On arrival we were afforded a very warm welcome and offered the option to use the facilities as a guest or to register as a member. The difference relates to the value you are permitted to win. If, unlike me, you’re lucky enough to be able to walk away with a pocket full exceeding £1,000 then you will require to register as a member.
On wandering into the main ground floor playing are I was truly gobsmacked! WOW, it was like stepping back in time to a 1940s New York. All that was missing was a few suited gangsters in Fedoras and spats! The designer deserves recognition. The dark mahogany wood, extensive use of large Victorian-style gilt mirrors, polished brasswork, hanging chandeliers, Tiffany lamps all exude class and serve to provide an authentic ambience of a casino from a bygone era.
So the real reason for the visit – the food on offer. The upper-deck gallery, which overlooks the playing floor and with views over the River Clyde, is essentially an open-plan area although there are some booths allowing for a little more privacy. There are numerous dining option available, from bar snacks, to two and three course fixed-price menus, a tapas menu and the full a la carte option.
There are so many choices available to diners that even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find something to suit.
The uniformed staff are all very efficient and nothing appeared to be too much trouble to them. Praveen, the food and beverage manager is the epitome of what a front of house manager should be – attentive without being intrusive, helpful, maintaining a cool, calm and collected manner as he oversaw his dining domain.
So, onward we ventured. My choice of starter was the tempura chipotle prawns, described as lightly-smoked chilli flavoured king prawns served on a crispy salad with spring onion, lime, coriander and a sweet chilli sauce. Now, I should add a caveat at this point, that upon perusing the menu I strongly suspected there wasn’t a lot of use of local suppliers – my worst fears were soon realised. The plate of six prawns were overcooked, and, the light tempura batter simply wasn’t, light that is! The problem of using frozen products which are pre-prepared is that in order to cook through so they’re hot, they have to be left in a fryer much longer than would be the case for a fresh product – hence the overcooking.
The CO however, made a much better choice with the soup of the day option. Out came a steaming-hot bowl of hearty lentil soup served with crusty bread and butter. Neither too thin or thick, it was an excellent portion of home-made soup, and shows the kitchen can provide better quality than frozen, centrally purchased items.
The mains were next up. I decided to opt for the steak, chicken and ribs combo, working on the assumption that the main components would be cooked freshly to order. We had a minor glitch in that the chicken was missing from the plate, but this was soon rectified. I ordered my steak rare, and this was on the verge of being a med-rare. In fairness though, this was a nice piece of fillet, tender, soft and succulent. It hit the mark just fine. The chicken however was the pièce de résistance, chargrilled, with a slightly blackened, crispy skin and with meat which was soft and juicy – what’s not to like with that. The ribs however were simply not up to the mark – tough, chewy, the meat had to be hacked off the bone – they needed another four hours in the slow cooker to tenderise them. Still, that said, the overall dish was acceptable for what it was, and came with onion rings, skin-on chips, mushroom, tomato and red onion slaw.
My other, better looking half, chose the smoked boneless beef rib, described as slow cooked beef in a bourbon glaze, served with the same accompaniments as my main. The meat on this one literally fell apart with a fork and needed no cutting. The bourbon glaze was a nice smoky, tangy addition which married the whole dish together. All in all it appears she’d trumped me yet again on the mains too.
The food is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest, but bearing in mind you can eat two courses for £11, there’s not a lot to complain about, and no one ever advertised it as fine cuisine dining. But I’m betting, probably just as well I’m in a casino, that the kitchen team can easily prepare food of a quality much better than the frozen pre-packed variety.
But, I will say this, I’ve been served worse, much worse. So if you’re in Glasgow looking for a good night out with a few drinks, a bite to eat, some live musical entertainment and a chance of walking away with a few quid in your back pocket, you’ll not go far wrong taking a stroll down to the Broomielaw and the Grosvenor Riverboat Casino.
As for me, I’m not complaining, I went home £10 up.