Scottish people will drink anywhere. At home. On a piss-stained old mattress at the park. At school. In the hospital. Shit, they’ll even drink at church.
St Luke’s, near the famous Barrowland market and ballroom in the dodgy but beloved East End of Glasgow city centre, used to be a place where folk worshipped God. Now they gather in this beautiful building to worship at the alter of bevvy and hella good food.
I love that Scotland has no problem with allowing churches to be turned into pubs. It’s surely a sign that the world is moving on from the whole God thing. And I wholly approve.
Finding ourselves near the Barrowlands on a Sunday afternoon, Mrs Gangsta, Mamma Gangsta and I decide to check it out.
It’s a hell of a sight from outside – the massive and architecturally sexy-as-fuck building standing proud among the area’s pretty and not-so-pretty structures.
The Winged Ox is the bar and restaurant area set to one side, next to the main hall used for weddings and other events.
Gig posters dominate the corridor, bringing back memories of Glasgow bars and clubs of old. I’m immediately impressed. Even more so when I spot Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. Praise be!
The three of us share a large portion of beef chilli nachos. No word of a lie, they’re fucking world class. No supermarket tortilla chips here. These things are light and fluffy. A cut above, and they’re drowning in cheese, jalapenos, sour cream and guacamole. Perfection.
For a main, I opt for chicken wings. Of course I fucking do. Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip sealed the deal. However, I have to be honest and say they were far from the best wings I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot. If I’d paid more attention to the menu or asked the waiter, I’d maybe have realised the wings come in a breaded coating, which just doesn’t work for me on a chicken wing.
Also, the wings are presented plain and you have to dip them in whatever sauce you select. Dipping a coated wing in Buffalo sauce and then blue cheese dip just ain’t right, and I long for the orgasmic saucy wings of Gator Ted’s or Gagsters.
Mrs G chooses the steak and Guinness pie, which she says is fantastic. And the small mouthful I sampled was indeed outstandingly tender and tasty.
Mamma G was equally happy with the Signature Skillet, a by-all-accounts heavenly chicken and haggis pie.
Service is good, if a little slow. And when I was still waiting for a second pint around 15 minutes after ordering it, a waiter was very apologetic and said it was on the house. I said that wasn’t necessary but I still wasn’t charged for it, which has to go down as a big plus on the customer service score.
The Winged Ox’s brilliant dog-friendly policy and the constant stream of excited doggos coming through the door only adds to the appeal.
While I’m not blown away by the wings, I’m not at all put off planning a return visit when I fully intend to smash the steak with some Buffalo fries. Or one of the delicious-sounding pizzas. Or one of those hearty pies. Or the mac and cheese with sourdough bread on the side. Or…just about anything on the menu.
I don’t do church. But I’ll make an exception for St Luke’s. All hail The Winged Ox.