A few years back it was churches that were being
converted into pubs. Now,
it’s banks that are having their counters converted
to gantries. Jonathan Trew
opens his account at The Counting House in Glasgow.
They don't get much bigger than this. Almost 5000 square feet of space is a bit difﬁcult to visualise, but let‘s just say that if you lined up a row of pints from one end of The Counting House to the other, even the England football squad would be hard pushed to drain them all in a season. The Royal Bank Of Scotland on the intersection of George Square and St Vincent Place has been converted by Watford-based company JD. Wetherspoon and it is enormous.
Wetherspoon has a reputation for sensitive conversions of landmark buildings and The Counting House is no exception. In converting a grade A listed building that was erected last century. Wetherspoon was restricted in what changes it could make. but what they have done they have done well. A large horseshoe bar sits underneath the magnificent domed atrium which is decorated with etched glass. and several other rooms lead off the main bar, each with their own character. Portraits of assorted historical dignitaries from Bonnie Prince Charlie
to the Royal Bank‘s founders line wood
panelled walls and comfy chairs and carpets mean that you can sup in comfort.
Banking on the beer at The Counting House
Down south. Wetherspoon pubs are 1
known for their range of real ales. and The Counting House has a choice of six including two Scottish beers and a regularly changing guest ale. The company runs I63 pubs in England and Wales and has the economic muscle to buy in huge volumes. and pass savings on to their customers. Younger's Scotch Bitter sells at a belly-expanding 99p a pint. Guinness at a remarkable £1.65 a pint and McEwan's lager is a mere £l.50 a pint. The house wine is yours for ill .60 and malt connoisseurs wili appreciate their nip all the more at £1.35. Readers will need elephantine memories to recall the last time a crty centre sold drink at these prices.
While The Counting House makes no pretence of being a restaurant. it serves above-average pub food at reasonable prices through the day until 10pm, and 9.30pm on Sundays. Unusually for a
, pub around a third ofthe space is
dedicated as no smoking areas. and the space directly around the bar itself is a weed-free zone which is handy for those who made any rash New Year resolutions regarding the old Chokers. There is a complete ban on music in all Wetherspoon pubs and the only thing that could distract the avid beer drinker is the fruit machine although even that has its sound turned off.
For a company that started in I979 with just one pub. the Wetherspoon
chain has burgeoned massively and shows no signs of slowing down, with over 200 premises planned by the turn ofthe millennium. Scotland is to be favoured with another three Wetherspoon bars very shortly. with work beginning on pubs in Edinburgh‘s George Street. Aberdeen‘s Castle Street and Reform Street in Dundee. Happy new beer! (Jonathan Trew).
The Counting House. George Square. Glasgow. 0/ 4 I 248 9568.
7 Old Fishmarket Close
A cracking goorl pint: O’IlollI’s new Edinburgh pub
THBHS , Edinburgh
I O’IIOIII’S The Hibernian colonisation of the nation's pubs continues apace with a new branch of the lrish theme chain recently opened on Hanover Street. in keeping with the old lrish custom of combining a boozer with a shop.
O’Neill’s is modelled on a rnilliner's and is decked out with the appropriate amount of hats. feathers. mannequins and hat- making paraphernalia. Needless to say. Guinness is available and waitress service means that you don’t even have to stand up to get a pint. which is a very civilised state of affairs. Should you fancy a chaser to
lunch and dinner Monday to Thursday all day Friday and Saturday Sundays dimer only
telephone 0131 225 5428
for an exciting menu in a stylish parkland setting CAFE OPEN DAILY 10AM-5PM
Bellahouston Park Glasgow G41 58W
0141 353 4770
1‘ I'll footie/(d 2..
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wash down the Guinness then O’Neill's has fifteen brands of lrish whiskey along with lrish crisps. nuts and even cigarettes. On the food front. get stuck into soda bread and lamb stew or try the boxty. a griddled potato cake. served with a variety of savoury ﬁllings. O'Neill 's. 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, 225 4680.
The List l0-23 Jan l997 97