There could rarely have been two wildly different venues next door to each other than Velvet Elvis and The Criterion in Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road, so we were keen to see the changes that Six°North had implemented since buying the venues earlier this year. And dramatic changes there have been. Gone is the art deco glamour of the Criterion and the quirky interior of Velvet Elvis, to be replaced by the urban, utilitarian steel that has become the brewery’s signature style.
Six°North already operates three bars in Aberdeenshire but this is its first venture into the central belt.
The two premises have now been knocked together to create a bar restaurant with just under a 100 cover capacity, so it is obvious the style has changed.
The side that used to be Velvet Elvis has retained some of the original touches that its founder, the late Allan Mawn, discovered when he was revamping the building. For example the original ceramic Victorian tiles from when the building actually housed a butcher’s shop remain, as does the infamous butcher boy’s delivery bike that was a centrepiece of Velvet Elvis. However some of the tiles on the wall have been sacrificed to create the walk through to what was The Criterion. The dividing wall is now a contrasting mix of uncovered brickwork, tiles and dark grey painted concrete. There is one walk-through, and two ‘windows’ to create an open-plan feel. At each of the openings there is a decorative mesh barrier that rises about a third of the way up the opening. The original lintel has been painted to make it a feature, and two similar girders have been added to make the necessity seem a design choice.
The original brickwork surround of the bar remains and behind the bar, instead of a traditional drip tray, designers installed a sloping steel bar top to handle overspill from its 30 draught beers. This is sourced from Belgium for every Six°North bar, and adds some much needed sparkle.
The open brickwork wall that was visible behind the bar in the Velvet Elvis days has been partially covered with a panel of dark grey wooden cabinets, with opaque doors, these double up as shelves for the bar’s spirits. Mirroring the shape of the bar, a wrought iron wine glass holder carries all the bespoke glasses for the bar, creating a stunning centrepiece to the bar and complements the original meat hooks that also hang from the ceiling.
Where the jukebox lived in the Velvet Elvis days, the wall is now covered with a Linotype-style menu of the 30 beers that the bar stocks, with ABVs and a short description.
The back room remains for dining, with the uncovered brick work covered in a typographical wallpaper that is a direct representation of the artwork that is on all Six°North beers. Using a mix of Flemish, Latin, French and English, it describes all the ingredients that go into beer.
An island separates the booths – which are made up of pale wooden benches with matching table tops – from independent tables and iron-backed seats. A glass half partition etched in the same typographical style divides the two areas.
In the main part of the bar, a shelf takes up half the wall opposite the bar, and tall bar stools, in a similar iron metal, are spread along the shelf and the length of the bar. The doors at the main entrance can be opened wide should we get a summer! Pale wooden back benches and tables make up the front of the main bar, with a couple of free standing tables.
In the part of the building that would have been The Criterion, the art deco styling has been replaced with a dark green, almost grey cabinet along one wall, which is filled with decorative bottles. The other wall reveals uncovered brickwork, and dark wooden panels cover the lintel supports that would have separated the two venues.
Above the cabinet, the uncovered brickwork is also papered over with the typographic wallpaper. The back part of the main restaurant contains three booths, with the pale wooden benches. The wall in that section once again features the typographic paper, and has three wall features made up of mesh and mirror. In both rooms, pendant shaped lamps hang from the ceiling to just above the pale wooden tables. Although at first glance, the lampshades look like a delicate pink fabric, they are actually made of two-inch thick, pink ceramic. To complement the lighting experience there are 18 spotlights in the main bar, with nine low-hung, black shaded lights, which have also been used in Six°North other venues.
The front part of the main area also has three large glazed doors that open out to the main street, where five wrought iron-tables and chairs have been placed and the outside signage is subtle. Partick now has a new haven for beer lovers, I’m sure Allan Mawn would approve.