One of the first places I went to eat when I started the blog nearly 5 years ago was Bar Gumbo….Fecking nora 5 years, what the giggity??? Who knew I had almost 5 years of rambling food nonsense in me.
Anyhoo – Bar Gumbo…it was pretty rubbish if I am being honest. Now I did write up a review but I took it down a year or two ago because the writing and format of the post was just awful, and really grated on me. However it is safe to say that after my first visit way back in July of 2013 I’ve never been back – that was until I met my buddy Becca there last weekend.
You see Bar Gumbo underwent quite the substantial and fabulous renovation last year, and I was extremely keen to see what they had done with the dull and dingy space that it had previously been. Plus Becca had already been to suss the place out and said the food was good and her’s is always an opinion I trust.
Located on Byres Road, the welcoming and interesting decor at Bar Gumbo is like an aesthetic lovers dream – it’s bathed in glorious natural light from the massive floor to ceiling windows, and the decor details are divine. The giant ‘gator mural, the exposed brick and distressed wooden floor, the cool lights and the gorgeous vintage framed prints on the wall all add up to a chic but casual atmosphere. On a special note, I absolutely adored the cut crystal vase on our table that was full of tea lights…I couldn’t stop looking at it, it was so pretty. On a slight negative we were sat at a table with benches and low stools which were pretty uncomfortable, and was killer on my back….a minor niggle because had I have thought about it I could have easily asked to move, it just wasn’t until I stood up I realised how uncomfortable I was.
Staff wise – they were fine. The waitress was nice enough, I wouldn’t exactly say friendly but they weren’t in anyway rude either. I do have to mention that I thought the service was a bit on the slow side. Not a massive deal because we were chatting but they took quite a while to clear away our plates, and we nearly cancelled dessert because it was taking so long to arrive. I think they might have actually been understaffed, because it seemed like there were only two people serving / getting drinks the whole time we were there.
Okay let’s chat about the important stuff – food! So I absolutely LOVE the menu at Gumbo, it is heaving with interesting and unusual American deep south soul dishes – think Gumbo (obvs) Jambalaya and Corned Beef & Potato Pie. Naturally I wanted to try everything, so in the end we decided to get lots of their small plates to share rather than do a starter and a main.
We ordered heaps of stuff, if truth be told we probably over ordered…your shocked by this, I can tell! 😛 And as you would expect when you order small plates there were some hits and some misses. First off let me share a few of my highlights.
Mac & Cheese with Pulled Pork & Jalapenos – was exceptional….I am talking, I could hear angels sing when I chowed down on this dish. I thought it was one of the nicest I have ever had in the city. The mac was cheesey and thick (don’t you hate watery sloppy mac? It’s pure mingin!) And the pulled pork was served in a delightfully sweet and tangy BBQ sauce which was bursting with deep rich flavour, I couldn’t get enough of it. The jalapenos which were added over the top added just the right amount of heat.
Buttermilk Chicken – okay I am not going to lie, I didn’t read the description properly and thought these were battered chicken tenders, so when grilled chicken turned up on a bed of colourful salad I was pretty put out. However once I tried the chicken I was 100% won over – the chicken was insanely tender and juicy, the marinade was well seasoned, and they were charred to perfection with just the slightest hint of smoke. I enjoyed these a lot.
Deep Fried Pickles with Paprika Aioli – Confession time: I ordered these because I am a wee bit in love with Snooki from the MTV show Jersey Shore, who would always order fried pickles on the show, and I was keen to give them a try…true story! Hahaha!
Anyway I really liked them – the large slices of pickle were sour and vinegary, the batter was light and crunchy. And the aioli mellowed the whole dish a little, and added just a hint of warmth from the paprika. I would 100% order these again.
So those would be my highlights, now for my low lights.
The Avocado Fricassee, which was described as fried avocado wedges with red onion, chilli and coriander, with sour cream and grilled flatbread. Okay, so this literally didn’t work for me on any level. I hated this which surprised me because it sounded right up my street, but it was just straight out weird. The avocado and red onion were warm and served in a large lettuce leaf, which was obvious cold and the whole thing for my palate was just off. So much so that I ate half of 1 piece of the avocado and some of the flat bread, the rest was send back virtually untouched.
The Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins – were another sad low point of the meal for me. At £3.50 the two small muffins were a pretty stingy portion, and I thought they were incredibly dry. I was really excited to try these so they were a bit of a disappointment.
In addition to these dishes also tried the Crab Salad tacos, skinny fries and sweet potato fries, all of which I thought were pretty dang tasty and I would happily order again. So only two bad dishes out of everything we ordered wasn’t too bad I felt.
Now for the real reason I was so excited to try Bar Gumbo again after their mega makeover – Dessert!!! I was really torn between the pecan pie, which is one of my favourite desserts ever and the deep fried Cheesecake. Yes! That’s right folks…cheesecake…..in batter…..deep fried! Tell me that doesn’t pique your interest just a little?
I made up my mind pretty quickly though when the waitress confirmed that the pecan pie was not made in house, and was in fact bought in. Deep Fried Cheesecake it was then!
Okay so some real talk – I still can’t decide if I liked it or not.
Let me take you through a few of the bullet points – First off the portion was extremely generous. It was supposed to come with a White Chocolate sauce, but instead it came served with a thick lemony cream which I quite liked. Personally I thought the batter was a bit too greasy to go with the creamy cheesecake, and although the batter was nice and crispy the two textures clashed in a way that I wasn’t really into. For my taste there was too much cheesecake and not enough of a biscuit base on the actually cheesecake
Did I eat it? Yeah, about half of it. Would I order it again? Naaa. I think it is a bit of a Marmite dish, I can totally see why some people will utterly love this and others will think it is absolutely boggin’. This is definitely a dish you would have to try out for yourself to see how you feel about it.
Price wise we were £63 for a large and substantial 2 course lunch for two. I was happy enough with the price and thought it offered reasonable value for money given that we both left stuffed.
All in all I really enjoyed my first visit to the new look Bar Gumbo – the food on the whole is delicious and the environment is so gorgeous. I will definitely be back to visit soon to try out some more soul food…especially that bloody delicious mac which is worth a visit all on it’s own!