Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Central Hotel RIP.

You know you are getting older when an icon of your youth crumbles.
So it is with sadness that I see what used to be the Central Hotel in Glasgow has shut.
This is in a way quite strange, as presumably it can earn money from selling rooms on a nightly basis - but I expect the downturn means no one will stay there anymore - £29 is more than enough in the TravelLodge up the road.
In my youth, the three hotels in Glasgow that counted were the NB ( North British) at Queen Street , the St. Enoch's Hotel at ( you guessed it) St. Enoch's and the Central at Central Station. The living thread that bound them was ownership by British Rail Hotels, along with Turnberry and Gleneagles ( and assorted others).
Some of our best hoteliers now were trained by BRH, and in their day they were the best anywhere.
The Central had many famous people at it, especially Roy Rogers, with Trigger up the road at the Bell Street Police Stables. The story is that Rogers ( and Trigger) were terrified by the size of the Glasgow Police horses. That, of course, was, and is, their point.
Over the years, once broken up and sold off, the BRH group members have had varying fortunes, some going down hill, others flourishing.
But in Glasgow, in the Central, was a monument to excellent dining at a time when people in Britain had no idea about food.
This was the Pompadour. Le tout Glasgow would meet there on a Friday or Saturday night, when the business of the City would be settled. A quartet trilled away in the balcony.
My Uncle, The Big Fruit Man, would take me there as a teenager, and later when I came to Glasgow to live, we invariably went there on the Saturday night.
To the same table, at the same time.
The menu was extensive, but my Uncle's performance never varied.
" Ronnie!" he would shout to the maitre d' as he scanned the menu.
" Do you have any Marie Rose?" Of course they did.
" Aye well, I'll have that. And have you any fillet steak?"
" Yes sir"
"Well just mince it up for me and I'll have some new boiled potatoes with it."
Sometimes he even had peas with it.

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