tunes I've been listening to this grey april
beer garden weather?
What constitutes 'beer garden weather' in Glasgow may well differ from most other cities around the world, or indeed the UK. But needs must, right? We spend so much of our lives braced for the wind and rain that when both of those unpleasant factors are eliminated you need to get both you and your drink outside pronto... Even if the temperatures aren't exactly tropical.
Glasgow has its fair share of bog-standard beer gardens, but it also has a wealth of interesting outdoor spaces that offer something a wee bit more unique and aesthetically pleasing. Here's a few that you may not have visited yet:
The Rum Shack in the southside of the city is a really interesting, eclectic spot for a rum and a bowl of authentic Carribean canteen food. The space out back matches the bar's vibrant nature and is most definitely a hidden alternative treasure within the city. It offers a traditional Glaswegian 'back court' space with rear views of the surrounding tenements, but with bright colours, hanging lights and comfy lounging areas it's a fun space to be in. They also have a host of retro board games to choose from!
From the city centre or west end, Chinaski's can sometimes feel like a wee bit of a hike if you're already out and about. This Charing Cross bourbon legend is most certainly a destination bar and you and your pals should be sure to make your pilgrimage on a sweet Glasgow day. Typically dimly candle-lit and moody inside, their multi-level outdoor space is a much brighter affair featuring gorgeous flowers and Charles Bukowski quotes in mural form. Grab a bourbon flight and have taste test in the sun!
Finding somewhere to sit in the sun in Finnieston can be a pretty arduous task. Many of the pubs and restaurants offer a couple of tables out on the street, but with such narrow pavements it's not an ideal relaxtion station. Lebowski's West End have a space that's set back a little from the road that allows you to enjoy a white russian in the sun whilst still getting a bit of people watching in. Fore me, The Finnieston is a great choice on a decent day due to their little courtyard space that can be reached down the side of the building. It's perhaps not the most inventive use of space, but it's such a rare find in this part of town and, with their amazing drinks menu, you're onto a winner.
Both Drygate and West Breweries are amazing choices when it comes to a pint and a natter in the sunshine. Both located in the east end of the city, they offer the kind of space and scale that most other bars in town can't. Plus, they have an awesome array of their very own beers to to introduce you to. The West Brewery has a chilled out grassy area and plenty of picnic tables which is perfect if you've got your pooch in tow. Drygate has a more stylised feel, with a lovely elevated section perfect for catching those elusive Glasgow rays. You'll need to get there early though!
Remember the Factor 50.
the finnieston strip
When it comes to marking a special occasion or enjoying an ace night out without the annoying "where to next?" debates, it's brilliant to have a wee neighbourhood plan of action up your sleeve. A starter meet-up bar, the pub where you've got a good chance of getting a seat, a restaurant that’s doing something a wee bit different, a speciality bar, a hangout place with good music later in the night... Finnieston is the place that offers all of the above within no more than a mere 200 metre stretch. The ‘Finnieston Strip’ can be sneered at by some for being an example of gentrification on steroids but this place has substance and some of the most exciting eating and drinking spots in the city. Got friends visiting Glasgow this spring/summer and looking for a plan of action? Read on.
Most decent bars offer a good range of gins now, but if you've got some real gin snobs within your group, then heading to The Finnieston for a perfectly mixed gin cocktail is a really strong place to start. It’s also got a wee hidden outdoor space out back if the weather is playing ball and you’ve not managed to grab a table on the street.
If whisky is more of what you're after, then the Ben Nevis offers an excellent range of options. More pubby than most of the drinking spots on this end of Argyle Street, it also has a great range of local beers too.
The mixologists at Kelvingrove Café and their evolving range of grown-up cocktails will have something for everyone. With bar space both upstairs and down, as well as a snug area that can be booked, it's a great option for a group at the weekend. Brilliant brunch option the morning after too. Just sayin’.
Rioja is a superb option as an end a night bar, good music and open to 1am unlike most of the other bars in the street. During the day, their range of tapas is second to none in the city. If you manage to grab an outside seat, you can blissfully eat, drink and watch the hipster world go by until the sun goes down. Or it starts pouring.
Finnieston is a seafood lover’s paradise, with restaurants such as The Finnieston, The Gannet and Porter and Rye offering up fresh and inventive plates. All three are great options if you want to experience the best of traditional Scottish produce.
When it comes to a bold menu and range of flavours, the small plates offered by the Ox and Finch are still incredibly tough to beat. Knowledgeable staff, great cocktails and a lovely little outdoor space makes it a brilliant summer option. Best book in advance though...
The most funky addition to Finnieston in recent months if Alchemilla. Operated by the same folks behind Tabac and Chinaski’s in the city centre, it has a laid back Scandi vibe that allows its diverse flavours and ever-evolving menu to be the showstoppers.
The Tenement Trail: Glasgow's Inner City Festival
This Saturday marks the fifth year of the Tenement Trail and, this time around, Glasgow music fans can take in an eclectic array of 50 bands spread across a record, 10 venues. Handily, each of the venues are located within the city centre, which makes this up and coming multi-venue festival all the more accessible and exciting. So, even if the weather doesn’t play ball? No need for a taxi, just throw your jacket over your head and make a wee mad dash to your next show.
The name itself suggests that you’ll find bands rocking out in living rooms not unlike your Aunty Margaret’s. Or maybe you’re picturing a wee electronica combo playing a blinder in the back green of your old student digs... Not so much! The Tenement Trail is a nod to the inner-city, close quarters nature of the festival and to the Glasgow music scene itself. And though you might not find yourself traipsing up a close to watch a band, fans who head to Flat 0/1 for Rascalton will experience something not a million miles away from home-style gig, complete with sideboard, knick knacks and 70s wallpaper.
The Tenement trail prides itself on being a festival of discovery. The idea being, you pay your 20 odd quid, get to enjoy bite-sized sets from some of the most respected small artists in the UK and, at the same time, go home with a handful of emerging bands or local talent to explore and look out for in the future. Sounds pretty good, right? You don’t like the vibe at a particular venue, then head on over to another.
As well as being a festival that promotes new talent, the Tenement Trail also boasts a wide range of artists, that in all likelihood ( if you’re anything like us here at Glasgow Living, anyway) reflects the sheer mentalness of your Spotify account. Ranging from the O2 ABC headliners, The Temperance Movement’s blues rock, to the Nickajack Men’s alt-country, via the indie-rock chaos of the super-hyped Dead Pretties and onto the undefinable sonic assault that is Fauve, there’s a plethora of talent on the bill this year.
Not surprisingly for a festival that proudly states its devotion to inclusiveness and diversity, female artists are also well represented at the festival too, with the Mercury Prize short-listed, The Big Moon, standing out as a band you’ll definitely want to experience live.
The atmosphere in and around the Tenement Trail gig-crawl has been incredible in years gone by, with incredibly supportive crowds keen to embrace Glasgow’s ever diversifying scene. So, whether you plan on skipping from venue to venue to catch a mixed bag of shows, or are aiming to set your stall out early in your favourite venue, it’s an incredible way to support our city, its music scene and some stellar bars and music venues.
If you make it along, The Tenement Trail are looking for you to embrace the do it yourself, discovery ethos and get involved with the #TT17 hashtag on Twitter and the @tenementtv tag on Instagram. Hopefully you’ll crowd surf across a sweaty wee room or get pulled on stage to dance with one of Glasgow’s up and comers. Either way, take loads of pics and feel free to tag us too!
Head on over to www.tenementtv.com for more info on bands, venues and times. See you there, troops!
meet you at the hotel bar?
Glasgow’s modern hotel bars are now an entirely different beast to the average watering hole. They’re no longer the bland, generic space for tourist groups to tolerate a post-dinner meet up. Once upon a time, the lowly hotel bar was regarded as being on the same level as a soulless airport drinking spot, but Glasgow Living would like to make the case that the most refined and luxurious cocktail experiences within our city can now be found ‘just off the lobby.’ Grab a seat…
The Dakota group’s Glasgow hotel showcases it’s customary, imposing black frontage and dimly-lit interior. Before you arrive at your table in the sumptuous bar, you’ll no doubt have been greeted warmly by numerous members of staff. Little classic touches such as this, or your coats being taken at the table by your host, turn an ordinary night out into something a little more fun and special. Their drinks menu is stellar, with the ‘Misfits’ section of the cocktail menu offering up some of the most well-mixed drinks in the city. We’re talking grown up cocktails not for the faint hearted here! They also have an extensive range of whiskys and liqueurs to be savoured in their cocoon like bar, where an outside world can just about be glimpsed through the black window shutters.
A short meander from the Dakota will find you being welcomed at the steps of Blytheswood Square. The hotel’s name is synonymous with high standards and luxury in Glasgow at this point, though it isn’t merely the beautiful rooms and spa facilities that draw people in. Their ‘Salon’ is located on the first floor and is a sprawling, well-appointed room, smattered with Harris Tweed chairs. The gorgeous full length windows offer views of the gardens and square below. Where the Dakota offers an intimate and brooding Speakeasy style, the Blytheswood showcases its plush, high ceilinged, Scottish charm. An excellent range of wines are on offer and knowledgeable staff are always keen to talk you through the list. Their cocktail menu is one of our favourite in the city due to their inventive take on the classics. The menu itself (or Bar Book) is creatively split up into chapters such as ‘Short, Potent, Hard’ and ‘Sharp, Fresh, Crisp.’ And when they arrive? They taste as good as they look.
The fun Chez-Mal Bar at Malmaison Glasgow can be found in the same neck of the woods as the previous hotels and would make an excellent end of night spot if visiting all three for an evening on the town. As with the others, a mix of clientele can be found in their hotel bar, but with a more casual, modern vibe, it’s a great spot to kick back. The space features bold turquoise seats, pop-art style illustrations on the walls and also a more traditional wooden bar to watch the mixologists do their thing from. With the recent launch of their new Chez-Mal brasserie, people eager to pop in to test the waters will not be disappointed should they stop at the bar. Chez Mal’s very own ‘Malchemy’ cocktails have something to suit every taste. The promise on their cocktail menu is to “mix you up a storm.” They haven’t disappointed yet!
The Brunswick Hotel in the heart of Merchant City is a minimalist and proudly independent hotel. Nestled within a beautiful building, it’s the kind of place that makes you look twice as you pass by, piquing your curiosity and drawing you in to visit. Within their funky Brutti Ma Buoni (translation - ugly but good) café bar, Glasgow meets the Mediterranean and lots of fun is to be found in the crossover. It’s part hotel bar, part neighbourhood hangout and is without doubt the most quirky hotel bar in the city. They have an excellent range of beers on tap and their outside space on the street offers an excellent place to sit, nurse a drink and watch the world go by. With DJs at the weekend and a bit more of an alternative crowd to be found in this wee gem, you’re always guaranteed a good time - if not a seat!
Next time you’ve got something special to celebrate or you just fancy treating yourself to something a little different, why not try one of these? The drinks might not be the same price as in your local but, then, you get what you pay for.
Ashton Lane: The Second Coming?
Sunny Glasgow weekends traditionally see locals flock to Ashton Lane in their droves, with groups of pals desperate to grab an outside seat or park their bum in a miniscule grassy beer garden space. For the last wee while, though, it seems that out with these rare flourishes of bright stuff in the sky, Ashton Lane has been forsaken in favour of its trendier, Finnieston rival. Things have gone a tad stale in the west end.
The recent arrival of Innis and Gunn’s flagship Beer Kitchen and on-site micro-brewery, may just be the trigger to redress this particular balance. Alongside the recent works to revamp Brel’s beer garden, it seems like come rain or shine, summer could be a good time to get in amongst the cobbles again.
Glasgow has fully embraced the rise of craft beer in recent years, with the city’s scene thriving thanks to the likes of Drygate, West and Brewdog. Innis and Gunn have now joined these ranks with a huge investment to take over the space most recently occupied by Ketchup. The upper floors have now been utilised to create three uniquely welcoming levels of beery goodness and associated hoppy offerings.
The ground floor hosts their on-site brewing, a first for Innis and Gunn. The brewing process is right there for patrons to witness, with the presence of the tanks and pipes creating an industrial feel, tempered by softly designed bar and floor space. Elsewhere, with its exposed brick, large booths and murals, it’s clear that it isn’t aimed at a particular demographic, more so, lovers of craft beer and innovative flavours. The staff are efficient and knowledgeable, offering advice and talking customers through their repertoire with ease.
Food is available on the ground floor too, in addition to the inspired tasting station where groups can book to be taken through a variety of beers by a member of the Ashton Lane team. We’ll definitely be back for that! In the summer, the large windows of the ground floor will be thrown open to allow customers to sit on stools and watch the eclectic west end foot traffic in the lane. Sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon to us… And with many drinking game possibilities!
On the second floor you’ll find the more traditional, welcoming restaurant space, with its exposed kitchen producing beer-infused food such as the duck Boozy Bird and Haggis Chieftain featuring a special Innis and Gun Original sauce. Tables are bookable through the Beer Kitchen website.
The third floor has a darker, more speakeasy feel, with dark wood, windows shutters and live music in the evenings. The space features private recess booths, large help yersel but don’t forget to pay fridges (think Allison Arms) and an imposing, traditional bar. It’s here that you’ll find both cocktails and hoptails! The latter being the fabulous meeting of a spirit and Innis and Gunn, expertly flavoured and fashioned into something insanely delicious. The Scotch option is a good place to start… With future plans to implement club-style, reserved booth deals featuring buckets of beers or prosecco, as well as table service in the offing, it’s clear that the Beer Kitchen isn’t content to rest on its laurels.
With over an astounding 1200 litres of their three special in-house brews alone being poured in the first week of business, and additional emergency deliveries from the Innis And Gunn brewery having to be called in, it’s fair to say that it’s so far so good for Innis and Gunn in Glasgow.
6music Festival Highlights
“This is us. This is our alternative spirit...” Why is it that Glaswegian accents tend to take on more than a wee touch of Janette Krankie when you hear them on the radio? Is it just our self-effacing nature? Or maybe we’re not used to hearing our accent reflected back at us from the national, London-based media. The radio soundbites promoting the 6Music Festival in the run up to last weekend were a little bit twee, yeah. Though, the sentiment hit the nail smack bang on the head.
Glasgow is a city that grows ever more assured and capable of showing off its unique attributes. We’ve always been a must-play music city. We’re the city with the ‘mental’ crowds who sing their hearts out to every song , but Glasgow music fans are also a discerning bunch and can suss out when a band is the real deal. All weekend long, fans were treated to the kind of diverse musical gems that only 6Music could bring to town. It was a glorious success, and another belter of a feather in both Glasgow’s and 6Music’s caps. Alternative spirit, indeed! And the sunshine didn’t hurt either, did it?
Goldfrapp topped the bill at Friday night’s O2 Academy show. Though, much like the rest of the festival, the show had more of an every man or woman for themselves type vibe about it than a pecking order. The 6 Music Festival featured early starts for opening bands at each of the evening venues and Future Islands coped admirably. With no shortage of conviction and feeling, heavy rotation 6Music favourites like Seasons went down a storm. Sparks followed, with expected levels of theatrics, wit and style. However, the tight, beefed-up rock sound, along with a fresh crop of quality songs, was a very pleasant surprise. Goldfrapp capped off the night with a set of crowd pleasers, yet somehow after the exertions of the two bands before them, the performance felt just a little underwhelming.
The newbie venue of the festival, St. Luke’s, featured a host of bands that have been touted as the future of alternative music. On Saturday night, after the sun ducked down, The Lemon Twigs treated the converted church to a memorable performance; due partly to Michael D’Addario’s splendid leopard-print catsuit but, also thanks to the finely crafted melodies that back up the madness. Likewise, Car Seat Headrest, are a band to be experienced live, with the kind of chaotic energy and DIY approach that a Glasgow crowd love. Welcomed onto the stage by a rapturous ovation, they delivered a really dynamic show. I’m fairly certain the crowd’s reaction to ‘Fill in the Blank’ could be felt half way down the Gallowgate. Great things await!
The Tramway day sessions featured a strong smattering of Scottish talent, ranging from a talk with Ian Rankin, an appearance from the mighty Limmy and an extremely moving conversation and performance by Edwyn Collins. (The latter is available to listen back to via the 6Music radio app and if it doesn’t make your heart soar then you’re pretty much dead inside.) Also playing at Tramway over the weekend was the true maverick, Father John Misty. A man who, at this point, is pretty much the moustached, poetry-spewing, awkward interview-giving, epitome of a 6Music artist. His piano accompanied performance of Pure Comedy from his forthcoming album, had the crowd transfixed.
The Scottish troops were out in force elsewhere at the festival too, with the inclusion of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Honeyblood and Optimo demonstrating just how wide 6Music are able to cast their net. The band that brought the festival to a close weren’t from Glasgow, though the city most definitely belonged to them on Sunday night at the Barrowlands. The tickets for Depeche Mode’s show sold out in two minutes, which is no surprise given the fans I spied queueing in the afternoon sun and their relentless singing in between songs. “You know you’re on telly?” Dave Gahan asked, clearly amused. The trusty leather waistcoat and gelled hair might date him a little, but tonight’s final tracks, Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence, are timeless. The single Where’s the Revolution? found them sounding pleasingly vital and on form. (BBC’s iPlayer is your best pal for the next 30 days and will let you check out Depeche Mode’s set, along with a host of others (Wee personal reccie - Thundercat’s set should not be missed!)
With a range of fringe appearances and community events popping up around the city in the lead up to the festival, it made the whole experience feel like a beautiful celebration of Glasgow rather than just another music festival. Unsigned bands, art exhibitions, film screenings, spoken word, book launches and fashion shows were only some of the events coordinated to shine a fine light on the city.
“In my city, I saw idols and music lovers. I heard the words of dreamers. The proudest roar. But most of all I found you. This is my city.” Those damn radio soundbites, again.... I’m okay. There’s just something in my eye…
Did I mention it was sunny?
6Music gig review
Samuel T. Herring from electro-pop poster boys Future Islands got around the early start for his band at the 6 Music Festival by tanning a potent mix of Skol Super and Irn Bru. He’s pretty sure you’re not meant to drink the former but, then, he isn’t the type to back down from a challenge. “It’s, what, only 7 o’clock?” he smiled. “We’re gonna have a good night.”
We may not have been on the same rocket fuel he was, but the audience were with him from the start. Even before THAT dancing kicked into high gear. (A wee YouTube search of the band will illustrate this better than my words ever could...)
New singles, Cave and Ran, from the forthcoming The Far Field album featured early in the set; with Sam’s, one minute crooning style, suddenly replaced by death metal screams the next. Every heavy beat song opener featured a preacher-style testimony, the choruses giving over to Sam’s predatory stalking and finger wagging, with the singer slapping himself on the face and chest throughout. His band may have been back to being the opener tonight, but he meant every single word.
Part of 6Music’s alternative charm is how undefinable their demographic is. It’s a radio station without an apparent remit. They give a platform to contemporary artists on the way up and give more than a wee nod to heritage acts that shaped the current music scene. From a glance about at the people totally losing it as each band hit its peak on Friday night that enigmatic mix was clear as day. Don Letts spinning tracks between sets kept the eclectic vibe going.
Hands up, I had no idea what to expect from Sparks. I’ve actually gone through my life believing they were British. Not a doubt in my mind. But, no…. American. The massive, beefed up rock sound was a total surprise and the energy didn’t wane for one minute. Russell Mael is still bouncing, smiling and ‘gien it laldy’ like he did 40 years ago. Featuring a back-up band of LA based musicians playing in Mini Mansions and Queens of the Stone Age, Sparks are a force to be reckoned with live. Less tinkly and more robust than their records, songs like “The Number One Song in Heaven” and “When do I get to sing my way?” had the crowd bouncing. Bookish jumpered types and bearded indie kinds alike were flailing and singing along to every word. Theatrical and idiosyncratic, yet also surprisingly vital, 20 odd albums into their career. They used the night to announce their forthcoming album Hippopotamus and to showcase new songs, as well as treating us to the most joyous version of “This town aint big enough for the both of us” that you’ll ever hear. New fan alert!
Goldfrapp were top of the bill for the show, though the night felt more like a wee musical exploration than a hierarchy of bands. When your roadie tests out how your shadow is going to look prior to your set, you know you’ve arrived. Alison Goldfrapp took command from the moment she and her ruby red poncho swept onto the old picture house stage. Less vociferous than Future Islands and less humorous than Sparks, Goldfrapp knocked it out of the park with their gloriously whimsy, melodic party style and it was just what Friday night needed. “Come on, Glasgow, I wanna see you move a little more.” Nae bother Alison, hen. The epic staging and 70s glam thumping beats had a mesmeric affect. Groups of young women took to the aisles upstairs in the balcony. New songs like Ocean showcased how Goldfrapp’s sound continues to develop, and with a couple of glittery “bangers” (to borrow a 6Music DJ phrase) like “Strict Machine” and “Ooh La La” to round off the night, the 6Music fans from Glasgow and beyond, sashayed away happily into the Gorbals night.
Gig rating - Five cans out of a Skol six pack.
Pre-gig food and dranks
Glasgow lives and breathes music 365 days a year, but for one weekend in March the city is going to make some unique musical memories when it hosts the BBC6 Music Festival. From Friday 24th to Sunday 26th of March, locals and visitors alike will enjoy shows ranging from Depeche Mode to Limmy, and every conceivable act in between. For some, the range of gigs will lead them into unfamiliar parts of the city. Before a gig you really want to set the tone for the evening, so a bar or restaurant with interesting food, stellar tunes and a bustling vibe is an absolute must.
A ten minute walk south from O2 Academy in the Gorbals will lead you to Ranjit’s Kitchen on the edge of Govanhill. If you’re enjoying the day events at Tramway, it’s even closer! Ranjit’s Kitchen is a real family endeavour with an informal and fun approach. Whatever you do, don’t let anyone in your group be put off by its vegetarian status, the deli style Panjabi food is not to be missed. (O2 Academy song pick – A Dream of You and Me by Future Islands)
Prior to the late sessions at the brilliant SWG3, some tacos at Finnieston’s Duchess of Argyle would be the perfect pre-game set up. With its no booking policy, discerning musical choices and fast service, it’s a real no frills gem and a mere 10-15 minute walk to the warehouse venue. Depending, obviously, on how many tacos you’ve tackled! (SWG3 song pick – I Feel Space by Lindstrom)
The Barrowlands and St.Luke’s are east end neighbours and, of course, eating at the latter venue is always a good option. Though, for craft beer buddies, heading to the Drygate brewery to pair some schooners with fine local produce is guaranteed to be the more memorable choice. (St. Luke’s song pic – These Words by The Lemon Twigs. Barrowlands song pic – Them Changes by Thundercat)
Enjoy, guys! I'm honestly not bitter that I couldn't get tickets. Not at all... Nope.
Window Wanderland, baby
Saturday 25th of February marks the first Window Wanderland in Glasgow's southside. The idea behind it is to create a fun outdoor gallery for viewers to experience as they explore the streets, with a map of homes taking part available via Facebook. I'm going to be jazzing up my front window and taking part in the Strathbungo event, although there's also one scheduled to take place in nearby Battlefield too. Fostering community sprit and bringing people of different ages and backgrounds together onto the streets of our city is a fantastic thing in my book. Taking place between 6-9pm there should be amazing sights, smiles and fun to be had. We could definitely do with more events of this kind, maybe off-set some of the Saturday night jeans, blazers and world war one hairdo crowd with some families? Shockeroony! Fingers crossed it's a big hit and gets a good write up in the press. Pics of my window to follow... Hint: Choose Life. Choose a window. Choose to decorate it. :-)
There's not much that gets me tumbling out of bed at 8:15am on a weekend morning. Not for the gym, no chance of a morning yoga class, too early for a hair appointment, no dog to walk thank god... But for Bakery 47, that magnificent southside gem, I find myself walking the mile or so in the wind and rain to take my place in the queue outside of their small premises every other weekend. By their 9:00am opening time a queue of a dozen or so people tend to have gathered, all peering through the steamed up windows of their Victoria Road hub to see what insane range of deliciousness awaits that morning. The simple eat in space fills up immediately with regulars eager to indulge in the refreshingly simple mix of fresh bread, eggs and coffee from the weekend's guest brewer.
I love the feeling of popping by... It feels like the most popular hidden gem of all-time, yet it does definitely retain a neighbourhood feel with friendly first name greetings, familiar routines and ritualistic purchases. For me, it's got to be some chocolate hazelnut croissants, an earl grey scone and some country sourdough bread to nip home with and get some hearty bacon sandwiches on the go. Unlike most premises their popularity means that they don't have standard opening hours, the sign on the door reads 9:00am til sold out. And they ain't kidding! Get down early, troops... And be sure to keep an eye out for some of their eclectic pop guests and events.
The city's second Lebowskis bar opened up on Nithsdale Road in the southside earlier this summer, joining its Finnieston counterpart in celebrating Duder, His Dudeness, El Duderino, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski. Or does it?
It's a themed bar, yes. There's the rug that ties the room together, the bowling pin lightshades, Jeff Bridges' face on the wall and, of course, the fine menu of White Russians to work your way through. No mistake, it certainly takes inspiration from The Big Lebowski. The extensive White Russian menu is reason enough to begin or end a night at Lebowski's, and when you factor in the generous burgers with such insane add-ons as a macaroni cheese fritter then it's a fairly sure fire winning destination for a calorific night out.
Do these bars embody the ethos of The Dude though? Do they truly celebrate the spirit of The Big Lebowski? Or are they just latching onto one of cinema's coolest cult favourites? Beneath the themed surface, these bars are generic spaces. Very welcoming, with a familiar neighbourhood vibe, both. I've frequented each of them and will continue to do so, but I can't help wishing that they would go the extra mile and follow through on the name that brings so many people in... A Lebowski themed quiz night? More movie-related décor? Screening evenings? Lebowski Halloween theme? It seems like they're doing little more than dipping their toe (with nailpolish!) into the water. But that's just, like, my opinion, man. Definitely visit one lazy Sunday, bring the family. Buy your Ma The Bunny and your Da The Gutterball. Abide.
paesano, the g.o.a.t.?
A few years back I spent nine long months living and working in Italy. Not the happiest of times for a number of reasons - work politics, my poor (non-existent) grasp of the Italian language and the lack of availability of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, among others. Though, what I took out of it was a love of the way Italians love food.
I enjoyed it all but my heart's desire while I was there was pizza. Each one seemed better than the next when you had grown up with a Hawaiian style frozen effort being slung into the oven as a Friday treat while you and your siblings watched Neighbours. I honestly thought I'd reached my pizza pinnacle in Le Scuderie in Pisa, near to where I lived at the time. The pizza was knockout, the line weaving out onto the narrow street every night for a metre of their pizza. And it was in this wonderful place I discovered that chips on a pizza could be an actual thing on a menu, not merely an adhoc Glaswegian hangover construction... "Il metro di pizza, per favore," became one of the few phrases within my repertoire. And I used it rather often.
Then in 2015, Paesano Pizza in Miller Street came into my life and changed the game... It's everything you could want in a pizzeria and it's in my city. And I can order in English. And they don't do that annoyingly cultured thing of closing for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Simple menu, fresh ingredients, rolling specials, beautifully soft dough, stellar coffee... And you can cap the entire thing off with a 99 cone! Sold? Yep. I've been a number of times now (double figures, cough) and never been disappointed by the quality. Now, if only they could start selling it by the metre, perhaps. Maybe sprinkle on a few chips... A bridge too far? :-)
Put down that steak bake, you! Good Food Glasgow are bringing the nation's best street food vendors to the heart of the Merchant City on Saturdays throughout April and May. With notable Glasgow reliables such as Babu Street Kitchen and Firebird, my interest was peaked... I was all set to fight my way elbows oot to an artisan pizza but the crowd was petty sparse when I got there. Though, to be fair, snow flurries probably weren't what the organisers had in mind for the inaugural afternoon in April...
Despite the chilly weather, it's clear that streetfood Saturdays (#streetfoodsaturdays, ya'll!) could be something really special in our city. Brunswick Street is beautiful, we know this, the absolute perfect location to sit and spend half an hour with friends over a gourmet hotdog or steaming hot curry bowl. Tourists would love it and, with additional seating along with pre-existing stone benches on offer, its perfect. I've often thought that when you bring visitors to Merchant City during the daytime you can be a wee bit disappointed at the lack of atmosphere on the streets. It looks fantastic but just lacks the joviality of the city centre. Well, this feels fun and spontaneous and is the perfect solution to that. Word will spread and I'm certain that it'll be a crowd pleaser... I mean, lets take the zingy Bombay street food I had from Babu Street Kitchen, all wrapped up within a cheeky Morton's roll. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that every god damn Saturday?! It's a yes from me. You listening Glasgow city council? Do your bit and get yourself down. Take a few pics and spread the word...
This week I received the most likes I've ever hashtagged my way into on Instagram... I know, right?! Do they make cards for this shit? And the humble recipient of all of that carby love? Doughnuts.
But none of your generic, bake by number frosted American fellas. The guys at Tantrum Doughnuts in the West End have got it exactly right. Hence all of the love. Their brand is strong and the flavours sophisticated. They do what they do extremely and consistenly well. The number of choices may have broadened since my first visit a few months ago but they've lost none of their punch and precision. Still marrying flavours together beautifully within their glazes and infusions and running a really personable shop to boot. The stalwart PB&J is my forever love but the crème brulee is not to be missed either. Your Mum would love one or three of those. And turn up at a friends with a lovely wee box of these goumet doughnuts? Hero status achieved....