There's no mistaking the location, the famous Ashton Lane is home to Brel along with a smattering of other cool cocktail bars and restaurants. But this newly-renovated restaurant bar stands out from the cobbled street crowd with delicious offerings to suit all palates.
Brel has undergone a transformation, with a brand new fancy exterior and stunning new beer garden. From the street, the Glasgow bar looks fresh and inviting, with wooden boards, grey brickwork and a some well-placed coloured accents. It's much improved on how it used to look, and sits in nicely on the vibrant Ashton Lane. The beer garden looks exactly like it does in the pictures, with colourful lighting and fairy lights draped around the trees. They've fitted some purpose built garden furniture, which is much more sophisticated and utilises the area to its full potential. The interior hasn't changed a whole lot and still has the rustic charm that Brel is known for (though a TV on the wall, tainted the aesthetic for me slightly). Brel has numerous dining areas aside from the main bar, such as their mezzanine level and conservatory. I'll admit that on entering the venue, I wasn't sure where to go, as there seemed to be no dedicated front of house person, though the staff at the rather busy bar were happy to help.
Clientele & Atmosphere
There was a real mixture of people enjoying some tasty food at Brel when we visited on a Thursday night. There was a family celebrating their son's 10th birthday (a young foodie!) alongside another family member turning 30. There were a few young guys having a pint, girls catching up with some wine and couples of all ages enjoying dinner together. The atmosphere was friendly and laid back with some old hip-hop tunes playing in the background, going head to head with all the chatting around the bar. Brel is the kind of restaurant that you'll end up spending hours in, soaking up the vibes and enjoying the offerings - I'm already looking forward to spending many afternoons in their revamped beer garden.
Food & Drink
Brel's menu is predominantly seafood and shellfish. Not really a fan of seafood fare? No need to worry - there are plenty alternative options. I went for the three-cheese mac, which was just the right portion size. Mac 'n' Cheese is extremely filling, especially with fries on the side (carbs overload!), and although I was quite full, I never reached that, "Oh my goodness, I don't think I can walk" stage, and the dish was incredibly tasty. My dining buddy opted for the veggie burger that was actually grilled halloumi with roasted peppers and mushrooms. A welcome change from the usual mushed up chickpea patty. For dessert (I may have been quite full, but there is always space for dessert, right?), I went for three scoops of Ben & Jerry's and my partner chose the deicious baked cheesecake. I saw other diners ordering the chocolate fondue, which looked AWESOME. Brel has plenty of Belgian and international beers behind the bar and also serve some cocktails too, but we opted for a house rose, which hit the spot nicely.
Brel is a lovely Ashton Lane restaurant and it's easy to see why this place is so popular with students at lunchtime and couples and families in the evening. Their revamp has been really well done and looks fabulous, and the food is really tasty, so I'll definitely be back sp. Their stunning beer garden looks set to be the West End's al fresco hotspot, so while we might have a little while to wait before it's toasty enough to sit out, I'll catch you there come summertime.