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Abode, Glasgow

26 January 2006
Abode, Glasgow

Abode is new boutique hotel chain - or rather, it doesn't quite qualify as a chain yet as there's only two of them. The first opened in Exeter (formerly the Royal Clarence) last September, and Abode Glasgow (the Art House) opened in early December. Abode Canterbury is next (the County hotel), and there's talk of other hotels opening around the country soon.

The concept was created by hotelier Andrew Brownsword, of Gidleigh Park et al, and two-Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines, also of Gidleigh Park. In their words, the properties are "affordable and exceptional lifestyle hotels". Yes, they're funky, the food's good and the wine list is interesting.

I'm in the Abode Glasgow just four days after its official opening. The café-bar downstairs is buzzing - it's Christmas party time, the vibe's already in place and there are 10 wines offered by the glass which make up 40% of booze sales.

The fine-dining restaurant will sell much more wine than that, once it gets going. "It'll take a while - but the message will get through," says sommelier Graeme Dow, who has done time at Conran's Etain.

The food alone should be packing them in - it's well executed by Caines's ex-sous chef Martin Donnelly, with dishes such as pan-fried scallops with a parsnip and vanilla potato purée; roasted quail with a fricassee of globe artichokes, and roast partridge with braised chicory, quince, roasted walnuts and a Gewürztraminer sauce.

There's a fair bit of wine in the cooking - in fact, wine is a central theme. Abode Glasgow has its own wine wall - a temperature and humidity-controlled glass cellar in full view of diners (Canterbury's will be even bigger).

"We're rather proud of it," says Dow, who helped put the wine list together with Steve Edwards, the former restaurant manager and wine buyer at Gidleigh Park, and now operations director for Abode.

So what are people drinking in Glasgow these days? "Lots of Sauvignon Blanc, and lots of New World wine in general - they think of Shiraz as sunshine in a glass," replies local boy Dow.

The list is divided by grape variety, with 10 wines offered by the glass (the same as those in the café-bar), from Jean Moutardier bubbly at £9.50, to Lurton Malbec at £4.75. "Listing the wines by variety encourages clients to choose wine they may not otherwise have considered," says Dow.

There are six Sauvignon Blancs, for example, from 2004 Waipara Hills at £23, to 2004 Sancerre from Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy at £29.85. There are five Rieslings, from 2001 Schloss Vollrads in the Rheingau at £22 to 2003 Martin Schaetzel in Alsace at £29.75.

On the red front, there are six Pinot Noirs, from the 2003 Omirah Mount Barker at £23.50 to 2003 Saint-Aubin En Creot Gilles Bouton at £35.75. Other varieties include Syrah, with one from Chile, from Casas del Toqui in the Cachapoal Valley, at £21.75.

"I want to move away from the group-run ethos with everything dominated by brands," says Edwards. "It's important to create an identity for the wine list. By working with Graeme, we know what the local suppliers are good at and what people are drinking - and how far you can push it. We will always have our core suppliers, such as Enotria and Liberty, but will use local suppliers too."

In response to Glasgow's penchant for wines with sunshine in a glass, the list includes many fruit-driven Australian wines. Edwards, who is from Sydney and has worked in wineries from Provence to Petaluma, knows his stuff, and thinks Abode customers know theirs too.

"Consumers these days have enough wine knowledge," he says, "so it's important to be a little eclectic with your offering, with value for money and not too many wines - we stop at 100 bins. We had ideas about getting a big, fabulous list together, but at the end of the day you've got to be able to sell it."

What's on the list

  • Jean Moutardier Carte d'Or Brut, £37.50
  • Michael Caines Blanc de Blancs, £33.95
  • 2003 Sanford Shiraz Cabernet, Victoria, Australia, £16.50
  • 2003 Lurton Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, £19
  • 2004 Riesling, Waipara Hill, Waipara Hills, New Zealand, £23
  • 2003 Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling, Santa Cruz, USA, £23
  • 2004 Brokenwood Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia, £28.25
  • 2001 Jurançon Moelleux, Domaine Castera, France, £29.50
  • 2004 Fairview La Beryl Blanc, Paarl, South Africa, £25.50
  • 2003 Yering Station Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Australia, £26.95
  • 2003 Casas del Toqui Reserva Syrah, Cachpoal, Chile, £21.75

Abode, 129 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2SZ
Tel: 0141 572 6014
www.michaelcaines.com

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