I’m one of those people who really hates the end of summer.
Autumn is great when it finally kicks in (there’s two definitions and it definitely feels more like a change of season to me come the equinox rather than the 1 September), but the late August/early September limbo when the nights get longer is something I don’t look forward to.
Therefore I am always on the lookout for ways to prolong summer, and an al fresco dinner or a (still) balmy Monday evening seems like an ideal way to pretend it’s still July, despite the sun casting pink hues in the sky from 8pm.
Glasgow is not short of great outdoor dining spots, whether you’re into pub grub, vegan or Italian. But one of the best to have not only continued but upgraded their al fresco offering is Bar Brett on Great Western Road in the west end.
Bar Brett opened in 2019 and is billed as the younger sibling of Michelin-Starred Cail Bruich, located just along the road.
A wine bar with a compact but considered food menu, the team grew their outdoor space during the Covid restrictions and now diners can enjoy a drink or meal outside, shielded from the road somewhat by a branded screen, which includes an illustration of the Duke of Wellington, complete with traffic cone hat, sat astride a bottle of wine.
It’s no real surprise that Brett has embraced the European culture of a pavement café, as it has always had a European feel. Inside there’s bar dining, high seats and an upstairs mezzanine.
On Sundays the team cooks yakitori - skewered chicken cooked over coals. But during the week there’s an a la carte menu on offer.
We kicked the evening off with summer-inspired drinks - I enjoyed a crisp glass of rose (£6) from the Rhone while it was a non-alcoholic xx beer for my driving dining companion.
The menu is split into snacks, starters, veggies, fish and meat and these are designed to be shared (and arrive as and when they are ready).
We decided to start with a pork croquette (£4) and grilled Brindisa chorizo picante (£3).
The croquette was served on top of a creamy celeriac and fennel remoulade, which is like a posh coleslaw.
Creamy and flecked with mustard, it complemented the ever-so-slightly dry croquette, which has a pulled pork constituency.
The bright chorizo however was exactly what you want from the classic tapas staple - oily, smoky and with a real depth of flavour. This one came sprinkled with lovage and a spritz of lemon.
Next up we shared Kingfish sashimi (£14), grilled octopus (£13), BBQ spring cabbage (£7) and aged raw beef (£12).
The Kingfish was served with dainty, orange Isle of Wight tomatoes, small umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums and smoked oil. A tomato water was poured on top at the table.
The light fish was meaty enough to withstand the mix of flavours - sweetness from honey, sour notes from the plums and saltiness from white soy sauce.
A smorgasbord of flavour, the dish still retained an elegance and freshness that you’d expect from ceviche.
On to the grilled octopus, which was a study in pink, was bathed in an XO sauce, and surrounded by perfect circles of pickled radish.
A dish for those that love umami flavour - this was charred and earthy - and we used our spoons to get every last drop.
The cabbage, which is vegan, was another excellent grilled dish and came with a pile of mushroom XO sauce and crispy onions on top.
Bitter but deep in flavour, there’s no missing meat with this dish.
Finally the aged raw beef, which looked a bit like an uncooked burger, but with a surprise soy cured egg yolk inside and homemade crisps on top along with a sprinkling of fresh horseradish and furikake (Japanese condiment of seaweed).
Despite sounding and looking like it’d be incredibly rich, this dish was light and very fresh with the egg yolk bringing a splash of colour and flavour with the crisps adding texture.
For dessert we went for sweet and a savoury - chilled coconut rice pudding (£8) and Baron Bigod Farmhouse Brie (£10).
For anyone who has awful school dinner memories of rice pudding, Brett’s addition of BBQ strawberries, white port and mint oil will put paid to this being any bog-standard classic pudding.
Creamy and bursting with intense strawberry flavour, it gets top marks from me. Although the cheese is not far behind. A long sliver of oozing brie was served with a slice of warm macadamia nut cake and pickled apricot.
Eaten in small pieces like a mini open sandwich, the savoury, sweet and sharp flavours here combine for something spectacular.
Even if you’re more of a sweet person, you need to try this cheese course.
The rest of the evening was spent chatting, sipping on what was left of the wine and listening to other diners, most of whom appeared to be on holiday.
The nights may be far drawing in, but they’re well spent at Bar Brett, no matter what the season.