Bringing you all the latest news about restaurants, cafes, bistros and pubs in Glasgow West End – and beyond. Nobody has quite so much lowdown on Glasgow pubs and restaurants as Roy Beers:
30th & 31st October
‘We are hosting a unique Murder Mystery & Cabaret night in collaboration with the award winning The Walking Theatre Company.
Arrive to witness the auditionees gather in the waiting area, it’s their big shot at reaching fame in Vampire’s Got Talent……. but keep your wits about you as the opportunity for fame may have gone to someones head……all is not as it seems with a spooky killer on the loose! You will be on the edge of your seat as the story unfolds….. with all the drama and jovial highs and lows of the X Factor!’
Enjoy a spooky cocktail on arrival, a halloween themed 5 course menu, murder, mystery and cabaret performances for just £65.
Fancy dress encouraged! Release your inner VAMPire!
Online reservations or call us on 0141 552 6165
18 Candleriggs, Glasgow G1 1LD
17th July – 3rd August, 2014
Ham hough and Applewood cheddar croquettes
with English mustard mayonnaise
with Mother’s Pride plain bread
Macsween haggis fritters
with spinach and potato purée and a green peppercorn sauce
on seeded wholemeal toast
Char-grilled Welsh lamb cutlets
with spinach crushed potatoes and spring onion jus
Breast of chicken stuffed with haggis
with a whisky cream sauce and mashed potatoes
Pan-fried Mackerel fillets
on toasted Irish soda bread with creamy chive-dressed summer salad
Beetroot and cream cheese tartlet
with herb oil and potato salad
Irish Cream liqueur cheesecake
with raspberry purée
strawberries with crushed meringue and whipped cream
Macaroon ice-cream on a nougat wafer
with milk chocolate sauce
Bara Brith (Welsh fruit tea loaf)
with marmalade ice-cream and orange toffee sauce
2 courses £11.95 3 courses £14.95 10% service charge on tables of 6 or more
Tron Theatre Ltd., 63 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HB
To book: 0141 552 8587
Download Home Nations Festival Programme (PDF)
Until 9 p.m. Saturday 26th April
Paisley Town Hall again plays host to the annual Paisley Beer Festival. Now in it’s 27th year, the biggest beer festival in Scotland once more brings the widest range of ales and cider available in one location.
160 different real ales from all around Scotland; the English bar will be sourced from Lincolnshire; as well as a Foreign Beer bar which boasts draught and bottled beers from Europe.
CAMRA Members £4.00
Le Bistro Beaumartin
26 Apr 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Christine Bovill performs the music of the French chanteuse, known for the songs ‘La Vie En Rose’, ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ and ‘Hymne á l’amour’.
Ticket prices: £50
Le Bistro Beaumartin 161 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2UQ
Eating and drinking Glasgow West End.
Thursday 14 Feb 2013
No novelty menus, no inflatable hearts, and not a sign of the colour pink anywhere in view the Glasgow Curry Shop in Ashton Lane is offering couples who want a romantic evening an evening to remember - without any of the sugary schlock which turns many other restaurants into a sort of Barbara Cartland-themed nightmare on February 14.
By contrast there is plenty of built-in romantic ambience within the quaint but warm surroundings of this cracking little upstairs temple to superlative Indian gastronomy.
This week was the first time I'd seen the place for a while, and it is looking terrific. The walls are covered with a unique montage of photographs of curry shops and their owners in times gone by, along with some piquant articles tracing the history of Glasgow Indian restaurants all the way back to the pioneering days of the 60's.
Since the restaurant (above Jinty McGuinty's) is not huge, that unique collection of photographs and articles already looks authoritative and deeply impressive, but it will continue to grow and evolve as customers those old enough to remember the "glory days" themselves bring forward their own anecdotes and mementoes.
Meanwhile it's important to point out the Glasgow Curry Shop is not a museum, and nor is it offering customers a glimpse of retro fare by serving up the famous "vindaloos on asbestos plates", or anything remotely comparable.
The restaurant's menu is instead thoroughly in tune with the award-winning pace set by parent venture Mother India, which has been steadily building on a reputation, now sky high, which was launched around 1990.
When you recall that besides its many Glasgow plaudits Mother India's Edinburgh restaurant won the title for best in the capital a city whose dining establishments tend to have a good opinion of themselves it's easy to imagine the local Glasgow version is also in something of a class of its own.
This, beyond doubt, is the sort of quality offered to diners at the Glasgow Curry Shop at what can only be described as reasonable prices (and check the special daily offers too).
The Glasgow Curry Shop also boasts possibly the best windae-seat view of Ashton Lane, along with the sort of unique dining experience you'd expect from an informal but thoroughly organised exemplar of great Indian cookery at its best. Meanwhile if you are visiting the Glasgow Curry Shop on or around Valentine's Day you might wish to take advantage of another value-led enticement there.
The phrase BYOB (bring your own bottle) is as retro as it gets, but an idea that has come full circle in these grim recessionary times. It gives diners to choose their own wine before the meal, and with only a small corkage fee to pay is one very helpful way of keeping the evening's bill within late February austerity limits.
There's no shortage of places locally from which to source a nice bottle of wine, but as it's St Valentine's Day mention must be made of Dino Valentino in Chancellor Street, about which I hear nothing but the strongest praise from anyone who's visited.
Everything about its presentation breathes enthusiasm and verve, and since it's about five minutes' walk from the Glasgow Curry Shop it has to be one very obvious place to start looking for the ideal bottle of wine to go with a special meal.
Meanwhile if you are planning a "Valentine's meal without the schmaltz" evening at the Glasgow Curry Shop it's worth noting that the restaurant isn't huge, and booking is highly recommended ask for a window-seat if it hasn't been taken already, and enjoy the best view of street life on Ashton Lane while enjoying what you'll probably agree is one of the best Indian meals to be found in Glasgow.
The folk behind well-regarded Chinese carry-out The Home Wok in Byres Road evidently take their annual New Year celebrations very seriously, as while Vietnamese restaurant Hanoi Bike Shop made a considerable fuss of Vietnamese New Year recently the Wok has declared February (or most of it) to be party month and after closing on February 3 isn't reopening until February 23.
For many of its regular customers it's nice to see the Year of the Snake being given the importance it deserves, but most will be waiting with barely concealed impatience for normal service to resume in the last week of the month. Richmond design special
The editorial team at The Dram licensed trade magazine (based in Finnieston) seem to have been as impressed as we were by the newly-launched bar diner The Richmond on what was once Bar Bola on Park Road and, again like us, also see it as a natural partner to existing local high end places such as Stravaigin and The Left Bank.
However in a special photo feature the magazine also deals in more detail with the ownership of the venue and how its special look has been designed to enhance one of the most vibrant dining areas in the country.
If you are interested in licensed trade matters in the West End, or in Scotland generally you can access the article about The Richmond, and also the entire magazine, at the dram
This week's award for "best cafe in the West End" goes to Smile cafe (or diner) at 102 Queen Margaret Drive ("where the shops are" more or less over the road from Clouston Street).
I called in a few days back with some hungry young colleagues looking for decent food at good prices on a cold and windswept evening and, not having tried this place before, I was bowled over by its characteristically young-Italian vitality and flair.
What I like most about the place (apart from its warm and welcoming vibe, fabulous coffee, lavish salads and beautiful bread) is the way it seems happy to offer anything from classic Mediterranean fare to a ritzy version of a trad Scottish cafe-style roll-and-something.
The member of our little party who opted for black pudding, fried egg and I think a potato scone, all in a roll reckoned it was the best thing of its kind he had ever tasted.
Those of us who went for super-healthy paninis instead, with masses of fresh salad, were also delighted by the quality of the wonderful food at normal bistro prices.
What was most impressive was that while this place is another cafe that flourishes despite being on the small side the staff are completely on top of every order at all times.
This isn't as easy as it seems, as while the diner fills up in no time there's a constant traffic to and fro at the busier times, with people calling in for anything from a coffee to a full meal, but nothing is ever a problem and the staff incredibly even seem to enjoy doing their job, splendidly as it turns out.
I'm looking forward to another visit soon, to explore the menu and daily specials in a little more detail.
Just to prove that no area of the wider West End is short of at least one new and exciting dining out proposition, New York Kitchen opened in Dumbarton Road, Thornwood, in December without a whisper of publicity.
Now it is thoroughly settled in, and its kitchen team are already planning enterprising new menu additions, eyecatching cocktails, and more. But isn't it just, after all, yet another American burger joint?
A leisurely lunch visit last week with Pat Byrne, to meet operator Eddie Tobin and manager Irene Thomson, was enough to reveal it's nothing of the kind. Eddie, incidentally, is one of the best-known professional licensed trade operators in the city, and is passionate about good food and about what he sees as the need for what marketing people would call "customer-focused value", or what he would call great food with no nonsense.
< In the course of a brief chat with Eddie and Irene it becomes clear the place is casually laying claim to produce the best burger in Glasgow, and for some venues that would be enough.
But while the menu is gratifyingly replete not only with burgers magnificent burgers but also standard NY diner entries such as spaghetti and meatballs, it also has just about every other main base covered from a "real" Caesar Salad to a classic Reuben sandwich.
Portions are generous and prices average for the quality of the fare on offer. Breakfast is already proving a hugely attractive option, with both classic Scottish and New York-style to choose from.
There's a wide choice of drinks too, from wine by the glass to real NY Brooklyn Lager to whiskey-laced milk shakes; and there's a button-busting selection of desserts.
Taken altogether this elaborate hommage to the better sort of New York diner the sort which go on to become great city dining institutions is not replicating a familiar theme at all, and is instead attempting something quite daring.
There are, after all, innumerable American-style diners about, most attempting some signature dishes apart from pizza and burgers, but none I can think of that set out to do the full job.
It would be easy enough to knock together an American diner menu, hang the stars and stripes in the window, and then hope to catch a slice of the everyday dining market from a population already in love with US-style food but New York Kitchen is hugely more ambitious in breadth and scope.
With a special Valentine's offer to take advantage of this week, this exciting new arrival in Thornwood is definitely in the "one to watch" category.
Amid all the doom and gloom about the difficulties of the bars and restaurants trade it's also great to see a veteran operator boldly go to a potentially great location, in an area where the demographic is rapidly evolving and opening up further opportunities for people aiming to run quality venues.
Much more on this enterprising diner with a difference in weeks to come.
Wednesday 23 Jan 2013
It's perfectly true. There on the menu of the former Dowanhill Bar in Dowanhill Street, in clear and unmistakeable type, are the arresting words "Horse burger" - which could worry diners aware of the recent brouhaha over horse meat found in some supposedly normal beef burgers sold by a well-known multiple retailer. And inevitably the people behind exciting new pub venture The Sparkle Horse, via their Facebook page, have been the very first to point out the unintended joke - while promising prospective diners that no actual horseflesh is included in their burger.
In fact recent comments reported from customers indicate the Horse's (beef) burgers are one of the main attractions in the pub's tight but imaginative selection of dishes - which offers everything from a £4 "fast lunch", in which you choose any two of several options, to vegan specials and even a steak pie cooked with Krusovice, the premium lager from the Czech Republic. In what appears an ambitious wine offer there are also seven wines available by the glass, and by way of more premium beer there's St Mungo from the West Brewery, besides a spirits offer which includes the likes of a Hendrick's perfect-serve G&T.
Together with a sophisticated but un-flashy makeover of the old Dowanhill - formerly a traditional bar known to have been in operation for well over a century - to the casual bypasser it might look as if someone has decided to bring the gastropub experience to Partick, but what appears to be on offer seems much more clever than that.
The name originates from the American indie band Sparklehorse, and a selection of eclectic sounds from the 80's and beyond is likely to figure.
Meanwhile Monday night is quiz night, adding a spot of intellectual colour to an otherwise soulless early weekday night.
At a time when news reports concentrate on the apparent meltdown of retail business at the bottom of Byres Road (of which more in a minute), this dazzling new arrival on the local licensed trade scene is another salutary reminder that Glasgow is teeming with licensed trade entrepreneurs determined to bring new and individualistic ventures to suit specific local audiences - and much more on this particular pub in weeks to come.
A newspaper report this week centres on the angst surrounding the mushrooming number of closed units and To Let signs on Byres Road - noting that the bottom end of what's described as the West End's main shopping thoroughfare has been very badly hit.
Anyone who's followed this column on a regular basis will know we've been saying the same thing for a couple of years now, while last year a Byres Road action group was launched in a bid to prevent the area becoming yet another "ghost" strip dominated by mass brand supermarkets and charity shops.
The newspaper article spells out the recent carnage in detail - the formerly highly successful venture Three Steps to Heaven closed before Christmas, with no explanation beyond a sign in the window advising that a refurbishment of some sort was being planned, along with the "hope" that it would open at some time in the new year.
It also flags up the unexplained closure of Otto - still grimly shuttered down in steel cladding - and quotes various local people as hoping that "something will be done".
However while the depressing trend of closures cannot be denied, that's not quite the full story.
Recent months have seen the launch of Assagini at the very bottom of Byres Road, effectively rescuing a site which nobody had managed to turn into a success - the smart money says it is in safe hands with its new owner, the Tony Macaroni chain - and on the site of a former launderette across the road we've now got the splendidly-named Euphorium Cafe, only the second ever Greek dining venture on Byres Road (if you except Stakis and the Grosvenor in yesteryear) ... the first was the once legendary Kebab Inn in the far-off 80's, in what's now Bar Soba.
Meanwhile the former Chocolate Emporium, which for years was prized local bakery The Pantry, had been "under offer", was then "unexpectedly back on the market" ... and is now "under offer" again.
Another new-ish business which appears to be flourishing is an Italian wine shop and deli in Chancellor Street, of which more once we've had a chance to study it properly, which has been fairly described to me as "a beautiful shop - a fairyland of Italian wine and food".
For the record, it has the most stunning window display I have ever seen in a wine-and-food shop, hinting at myriad Mediterranean delights inside simply begging to be explored in detail.
Across the road at Partick Cross, Bruadar pub reopened in time for the Christmas season, and has clearly been working hard to win itself an appreciative local custom, and new bar-restaurant Hyde should soon be opening on the site of the nearby former Memories bar.
And in Thornwood the New York Cafe is now offering its own take on the great American diner experience - burgers, inevitably, a house speciality - beside existing ventures Velvet Elvis and The Criterion.
The bottom of Byres Road, incidentally, also plays host to quiet but potent success stories Two Figs and restaurant Number 16, so while there have been plenty of failures there are also some hard-won success stories to enjoy while visiting this neck of the woods ... not least the Wee Curry Shop venture operated by our sponsor, Mother India.
When you consider we're in the tightest month and in the depths of a recession it's little wonder that some ventures are finding it impossible to take the strain (as witness the abrupt closure of one of the boutiques farther up the hill), but there appears no shortage of operators eager to win their share of a sometimes fickle local market.
Which brings me back to the Euphorium Cafe run by Greek operator Mr Antonis Xenos and his charming Scottish wife.
They have created a very welcoming bistro within premises which benefit from large picture windows and low-key but attractive decor (such as those reproduction Byzantine icons over the lintel, in pride of place).
Here you can enjoy many of the staple dishes such as Pastistio and Moussaka we all expect to find in a classic Hellenic dining venture - to which we can wistfully hope to add outdoor dining on the sunkissed pavement outside when summer finally arrives.
Mr and Mrs Xenos have clearly been aiming to open in this stretch for a while, but have faced difficulty gaining lets for premises - just possibly because there's some sort of systemic built-in resistance to new cafe ventures being opened in the area.
This particular claim needs wider investigation, but if true it's not acceptable. Lively independent ventures are exactly what Byres Road and Partick need (I think most would agree) - not Tesco Town, building societies and so forth, and particularly not permanently-closed shop and pub units.
Incidentally we're not talking about licensed premises, which always raise hackles (usually ill-advisedly) but straightforward cafe-diner propositions - and there should be no limit to the number of these whatsoever, beyond "what the market will bear".
Enterprising and original ventures whose owners are willing to stake all on success should surely be given elbow room to help win their trade, and shouldn't be presented with swingeing council rates levies and pointless red tape.
However according to a newspaper report the council has "exciting plans" for the area, and is aware of the economic blight said to be festering in the West End's once premier shopping and dining road ... so the turbulent saga of the business maelstrom between University Avenue and Partick Cross clearly has a long way to run.
I originally thought the Maclay Inns revamp of the old Captain's Rest pub near George's Cross would be all singing and dancing in time to rake in some festive cash, but what's clearly a major revamp - even more ambitious than the transformation of Uisge Beatha to Dram! by the same firm - is a job that cannot be hurried.
As I passed by today the old Rest was still very much a building site, but with enough taking shape within the temporary ruins to give an idea of what lies in store.
Most obviously, and just as with Dram!, what were blank walls are now punctured with large window spaces, allowing customers to have a good gander at the milieu inside before venturing in - and full marks for that.
Meanwhile the bold new pub sign has appeared over the door, bearing the legend "The Captains", with no apostrophe or suggestion that the word "Rest" (which sounds too tranquil for a live-an'-happenin' young-leaning bar-diner) will be added later.
So we're talking "Captains" plural - exactly which captains isn't explained, but I don't think the design scheme will in any case feature nautical paraphernalia such as anchors, nets, and all that jazz (if only because The Finnieston has already covered that base with a very crafty and sophisticated design take of its own on the seafaring theme).
More on The Captains as the general plot is made available - but it could be that yet another genuinely "different" quality pub is about to emerge on an already glittering local scene.
My biggest recent surprise was walking around the corner from Gibson Street into Park Road to find - shazam! - that the long-shut site of Bar Bola, hidden by wooden cladding for years, has suddenly burst back into vibrant life as The Richmond, a rather ritzy-looking new wine bar and diner.
Readers with long, long memories may recall this site was once The Blythswood Cottage pub, upstairs and downstairs, a boozy n' bohemian haunt whose interior decor, all plastic "oak beams" and cream paint, had been assembled by the same people who decked out the legendary and immortal Doublet Bar ... back in 1964.
The old Cottage sadly faded away, to be replaced after a mammoth refurbishment by Bar Bola, a "style bar" - one of the earliest - whose attractions included a back window view of the River Kelvin.
That was more than two decades ago, and while Bola soon won a regular customer base among sophisticated young trendies it didn't manage to adapt to meet changing tastes ... and finally shut up shop around four years ago.
Now, despite rumours its licence would be surrendered - making it difficult to gain a new one beneath tenement residential properly - the place is back in business under new operators, and with a vengeance.
There's a full dining offer, of the sort which again suggests - horrible, hackneyed phrase - "gastro pub", incidentally proving that the terms "bar-diner" and "restaurant" are now purely relative.
In fact we're possibly looking more at high end "pub grub", of the sort which tries to produce excellent examples of staples like fish and chips, burgers and hotdogs while also adding imaginative vegetarian and more obviously "exotic" choices ... and there's a children's menu too.
The Richmond also has one very ambitious wine offer, in a range which soars all the way up the price spectrum to #80 or so for one of the dearer bottles.
However a glance at what appears a very carefully thought-out cocktails menu shows you do not have to pay eyewatering prices to enjoy some of the premium drinks, and since the venue is still very new it will be interesting to see how things develop further in months to come.
Most obviously The Richmond (with a striking interior centred on exposes stonework and a magnificent centrepiece bar and gantry) already offers a counterpoint to nearby Stravaigin and The Left Bank as an evening-out choice, adding an extra dash of upper-end flair to an already vibrant local scene in and around Gibson Street.
Take all of the above threads together and it's obvious there's simply no let-up in the hectic pace of new or improved dining and drinking ventures in the West End, with several operators showing they can deliver something highly attractive to local customers at prices you couldn't hope to find for the same quality in many other areas - notably Ediburgh.
Nobody in the trade I have spoken to recently is pretending things have been anything other than "very challenging", but it is heartening to see people prepared to invest in ventures that promise to add new lustre to our existing collection of first class bars and restaurants.
Whether it's Finnieston, the Park area, Partick, Dowanhill, Hillhead, Kelvinbridge, Woodlands or Hyndland (which boasts, for example, The Hyndland Cafe, Jelly Hill and Cottiers) - or Anniesland, soon to be home to a novel new Spanish restaurant - the West is still reassuringly wild about its brilliant and continually-evolving dining scene.
And as if we needed reminding, we've also got the best Indian restaurants in the country, and the fascinating and entertaining story of how the West End circuit got to be just so good is now being told in fine style in the memorabilia, articles and photographs on show in The Glasgow Curry Shop (run by our sponsor Mother India), in Ashton Lane.
We'll have much more on this elaborate homage to yesteryear - but also its thoroughly enticing cuisine - in due course.
Thanks to Mother India: Monday 24 Dec 2012
Stuff the turkey - let's dine out in style: Wednesday 5 Dec 2012
Posh Nosh and other news: Monday 12 Nov 2012
Save The Halt!: Friday 5 Oct 2012
Pass the Pakora: Friday 7 Sep 2012
Nasreen's Bistro for all seasons: Monday 30 Jul 2012
A bold wee tribute to a great tradition: Monday 2 Jul 2012
Chip's in excelsis: Thursday 31 May 2012
Anniesland and Freedom: Friday 6 Apr 2012
Fasten your seatbelts - Akbar's is in town: Thursday 22 Mar 2012
Finnieston style: Monday 20 Feb 2012
Celebrating the Bard: Wednesday 25 Jan 2012
Out with the old: Friday 30 Dec 2011
What's New and What's Gone: Thursday 17 Nov 2011
Hot Prospect: Friday 15 Jul 2011
Festival Time in Glasgow's West End: Sunday 22 May 2011
Spring 2011: Tuesday 29 Mar 2011
Precious Memories of 2010: Monday 3 Jan 2011
Autumn, 2010: Tuesday 26 Oct 2010[ RSS .91 RSS 2 ]