The Liquid Ship

Feature by Fraser Cardow | 15 Feb 2006

I climbed up into The Liquid Ship on Great Western Road with a friend and an appetite that could've put Jesus' Five Hundred to shame. It inhabits a strange corner of town, and indeed, it's a strange little place itself, but definitely a welcome addition to the area.

Ascending into a pub is a bit of a rarity, and The Ship looks sort of goldfish bowl-like from outside, but it's cosy enough when you get in there. It's not the warmest of decors: there's something standoffish about its vibe, like a person you don't really know leaning in and giving you a fumbled kiss and an awkward hug. The couches in the back are those massive comfy black ones which will kill a conversation dead, or, at least, maim it, leaving you a choice of the pseudo breakfast bars in the window, the breakfast bar in the middle or the tables along the wall. With nods toward Art Deco, the décor is piecemeal but assured, and, being a Stravaigin gaff, you're pretty much assured an underbelly of quality. The Liquid Ship clearly has this: the staff are always a good reflection of any place and here were two staff who were relaxed and friendly and enjoying a quiet Wednesday tinkering around. It took us a while to make our choices as the menu is filled with food ideas to savour.

We had been swimming that morning, so I sensibly didn't eat beforehand, and, by the time we were evicted from the pool to make way for ladies day, I wanted food in more than one form and portion sizes which were more than a starter but less than a main. I wasn't disappointed. Fine, rich ingredients abound, leaning towards Mediterranean and Mexican if anything. We chose the cheese platter, the seafood pizza, a tuna niçoise salad, a bowl of soup and some olives. By the time we managed to piece this information together, the waitress/barmaid/chef happily told us to take some more time choosing, since she wanted another five minutes with some tomatoes. Fair play. Honest frankness is far preferable to the nonsense lies of customer service. Although we had been piped in by Led Zeppelin, we were unhappily regaled by seven Stevie Wonder songs in a row, including Happy Birthday. My friend suggested that Mr. Wonder is just a phase people go through, but that's no excuse.

The cheese arrived and we loved it. Goats cheese, some piquant manchego and some subtle blue, with great balsamic and onion chutney, perfect with the bread and fat olives. There was enough to be able to get sick of it, which is great, but, way before that, the rest arrived and how. A deep, full bowl of spicy tomato soup with satisfying chunky bread, which maintained its heat happily for 20 minutes, alleviating the age old problem of having to gulp down your soup before it cools and allowing you to eat a bit of everything here and there. My tuna niçoise was basically a fat, lemon-dressed tuna salad crostini. Now, these are a bit dry at the best of times and the salad wasn't inspired, but it was ok. The seafood pizza was a tortilla base, smothered in cheddar and molested by spiced crayfish and anchovies. Maybe it was due to eating most of everything else before turning my attention to this, but the tortilla/cheese combo dominated the taste and overruled the fish mostly.

As a whole, The Liquid Ship is a nice wee place, with an individual set up. The food satisfies and seems well considered with depth, but I reckon the kitchen/bar could be easily overwhelmed. I'll be back though.

The Liquid Ship, 171 Great Western Road, Glasgow.