There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and sports bars serving bad food. The Woolshed (to give it its full name, The Woolshed ‘Baa & Grill’) isn’t a place I go to when I want to eat; it’s where I go to watch football because I’m too tight to pay for a Sky Sports subscription. Within it’s hallowed walls I’ve watched Scotland lose to England (three times), Wales (twice), Belgium (twice), Germany (twice), Georgia, Slovakia, Asgard, Narnia, Skull Island…. us Scots though, we’re a hopeful bunch. We fuck up every qualifying campaign and go in to the last game needing to beat Italy 3-0, and we know, deep down we all know we’re going to get stuffed like Katie Price in a hotel room with a football team, but there’s just that tiny little bit of hope in each of us, a light that never goes out (despite what the tweets below might suggest). It’s the hope that kills you. Eating dinner at the Woolshed was a little bit like this. Despite my many visits here I’ve never tried the food. I always just assumed it would be terrible. You don’t shit where you eat, and you don’t eat where you watch your shit football team – rules to live by. However, remarkably, last Friday I snuck out of a night out with fellow Burger Clubbers Kirsty and Suzy and in to the Woolshed to watch the Scotland game, and they actually won, and convincingly, playing some uncharacteristically slick football and sticking 3 goals past Lithuania in Vilinius, thus proving, and this is a scientific fact, that every now and again, something fucking weird happens. If Scotland can win 3-0, can a sports bar cook decent grub? Perhaps it was positivity after the game, perhaps it was all the Guinness I drank, but when I saw a poster on the stairs for 2-for-1 burgers every Tuesday, I had to put in the call to Amanda and Rory. I had a good feeling about the Woolshed, and at 2-for-1? Everyone knows not spending money is a Scottish person’s third favourite thing in the world, after listening to The Proclaimers and heroin.
That Tuesday, Ireland were playing, and that didn’t seem a great time to visit the Woolshed for a quiet burger and chips. This place is football central, three bars, two floors, and everywhere you look a screen showing a different game. Most nights of the week it’s packed with football fans from all over the globe watching their team, but on international nights it’s strictly standing room only. The following Tuesday though we thought we’d try these 2-for-1 burgers prior to going on a Burger Club outing to the cinema next door. (Being that there were only three of us in attendance, Amanda and I split one deal and Rory, a man who recently polished off Aussie Outback’s Baby Beast burger with chips and still had room for a dessert, ordered two burgers and chips all to himself).
We arrived just after 18.30 (remember that, it’ll come up again later) on a wet Tuesday night, it was quite busy but we managed to find a table upstairs easily enough. We of course have a rule in Burger Club; if there are wings on the menu we have to order them. We soon wished we had bent the rules this week however, because these wings were very disappointing. I’ve seen malnourished scarecrows with more meat on them, they were the tiniest, scrawniest things, and the Cajun sauce was blander than a Coldplay album. Isn’t Cajun supposed to be spicy? These were so lifeless I didn’t know whether to eat them or give them mouth-to-mouth. We ate them because we were hungry and we’d paid for them but none of us enjoyed them.
Next came the burgers. I ordered a Gourmate, which came with my perennial favourite, blue cheese, and also grilled onions, tomato relish and I added bacon to it; Amanda got a Sicilian; pesto, mozzarella, onions, peppers, salami, rocket and mayo. Two-Burgers Rory ordered a Mighty Meaty which boasted pulled pork and bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard mayo, and topped off his evening of gluttony with a Crispy Chook; a chicken burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo.
We had placed our order at about 18.45, leaving us plenty time to get it all down our throats before our movie started at 20.15. The wings came out pretty sharp, they were eaten and our dishes cleared by about 19.00. And then we waited. And waited and waited and waited. By 19.30 Amanda got pissed off and went for a smoke – I went for a walk and found a cash machine. When I got back we still had no food. At 19.45, an hour since we’d ordered, Amanda summoned over a manager, who went to investigate. The official line; your order was never put through (odd then that we managed to get our starter, but hey). We toyed with the idea of just saying fuck this and filling up on cinema snacks, but I’m 37 years old, I can’t eat Minstrels for dinner, and I hate popcorn. The manager, in fairness to him, was excellent (as was the waitress who had to deal with our angry faces), apologised repeatedly and promised to get our order to the top of the queue and rushed out. The food made it out to us at 20.00, giving us less than 10 minutes to ram it all in to our burger-holes since our movie started at 20.15. I was ravenous by this stage. We all were. Rory was so hangry he looked ready to kick someone down the stairs. This should have been a tap-in for the Woolshed. Starving diners; freshly prepared gourmet burgers – an open goal, satisfaction guaranteed. Well, I’ll give you a nope with a side-order of more nope. These were diabolical. The Cowdenbeath FC of burgers; shitting around at the bottom of the lowest league.
In the rush, I ended up with Rory’s burger and he ended up with mine. The Mighty Meaty may have been meaty but it sure as hell wasn’t mighty. Substitute that word with any synonym for “dry” and you’re there. The pulled pork had no flavour whatsoever, and the burger, Jesus wept. It was horribly underseasoned, and so dry, so utterly utterly dry it was actually difficult to eat. I’ve never had to chew a burger so much before I could swallow it, I had to chase every bite with a mouthful of 7Up just to try and get it down. It was actually painful to swallow, every bite a big, dry chunk of overcooked meat. About halfway through I added ketchup to try and add a little moisture (when you’re putting ketchup on pulled pork you know something has gone gravely wrong somewhere), but there was no saving this fucking thing. The crispy ciabatta it came served in only accentuated the problem. Even the chips were overdone and dry as hell. This whole meal was drier than a German joke book. How does food prepared in ten minutes get this overcooked?
Amanda’s burger came covered in onions, despite her asking for no onions. We didn’t have time to return it, so she picked off the onions, got about three bites in and gave up on it, citing all the same problems I had with mine, and hers also fell apart. Both she and Rory felt that the bacon was cheap, limp and fatty. Rory had a good go at his two burgers and was underwhelmed by both the beef and the chicken, both were overcooked. We had planned to try desserts, but we didn’t have time.
Literally not one part of this meal was good, the service was hopeless and by the time our food came a Champion’s League game had kicked off and we were surrounded by excited, chanting Italians, which, coupled with TV commentary, meant we couldn’t hear anything we were saying to each other. I have nothing positive to say; with the 2-for-1 deal it was cheap I suppose, but is it value for money if the food isn’t good? I consider this a waste of €13. Fray Bentos pies are cheap; Eric Djemba-Djemba was cheap; my “Rolex” I bought in Bulgaria from a guy selling watches out of a toolbox was cheap; I wouldn’t consider any of them value for money.
This is the 23rd burger we’ve reviewed since we started Burger Club, and it’s ranked #22/23 on our list. (Incidentally here is #23). Once we add it all the other things we rate on (Sides, Value, Service & Surroundings) it comes in dead last. By all means, go here to watch football – as a sports bar it’s about as good as it gets (you’ll find me here next month watching Scotland beat Slovakia, then shitting the bed against Slovenia three days later and failing to qualify as usual), but stay away from the food. If you need to eat a burger that badly there’s an Eddie Rocket’s next door – there aren’t many places I would recommend Eddie Rocket’s over but this is one of them. Eating here is like drunk-dialing your ex; it seems like a great idea when you’re full of cheap prosecco and bravado, but you’ll just wake up feeling ashamed of yourself and full of regret. Don’t do it.
Service & Surroundings: 3
Total Score: 3/10