I spend a fair amount of time in Glasgow, these days, but a few dalliances with the West End aside I tend to spend all of my time in the city centre. Today’s expedition would focus on the Southside with a wider consideration of the West End following that.To ease our way into the day, we visited an old favourite in the shape of Lab Espresso for an invigorating and high-quality coffee. It set us up nicely for the start of the stroll southward.
Our next stop was at the Lighthouse which afforded us a great view across the city from their 6th floor viewing platform. The day was rather misty, so we didn’t see the vista to its fullest extent but it still provided a lovely perspective over the city.After a combo of further strolling and a bus we arrived at our next stop, the Turner Prize exhibition at the Tramway. After a trot around the hidden gardens in their autumnal beauty, we then considered a very diverse exhibition bringing together the shortlisted artists. The highlight was an extraordinary and brief choral assault as part of the Janice Kerbel exhibit. Stirring stuff. It’s a show that’s well worth your attention. It runs until mid-January 2016.
We then wandered on through Shawlands where we ran into Laura, one of Claire’s friends of long-standing. It emerged that Laura and I worked in the same, massive office a while back, but this was the first time we’d met.Our lunchtime venue was to be Bella Napoli, a lovely, smartly appointed Italian with a hugely impressive looking pizza oven and enthusiastically appreciative Saturday afternoon audience.
With a comedically large a la carte menu, we were all equally drawn by their set lunch menu which offered two courses for £9.95. This met our needs very well and proved to be cracking value.
Claire opened with the melanazane parmegiana then followed with gnocchi, Laura chose caprese bruschetta and creamy broccoli paccheri, while I started with the melanzane then thought it best to give one of their pizzas a try. I chose a topping of Italian sausage and mushrooms.Starters arrived looking rather bonnie. The melanzane was particularly neatly presented which is a neat trick with this dish, as it can sometimes be a challenge to make pretty. It tasted as good as it looked, too, with mountains of flavour. It was one of the better versions of the dish I’ve been served.
The main courses were of similarly impressive quality. Laura’s large-tube pasta was rich and creamy with plenty of broccoli flavour infused through the dish. Claire’s gnocchi was declared a winner, once it had cooled down from volcanically hot. My pizza was very good with a light, fluffy base and really nicely balanced topping.We were overwhelmingly full after this considerable feast, so had no room for dessert. Instead we thought we’d take a short break and grab some cakey treats from Bakery 47. Laura very sensibly went home for a wee nap.
This bakery, on Victoria Road, was a considerable delight. Sweet treats aren’t really my thing but I was totally charmed by the place and lured in by their fig and honey amaretti. Covered in the kind of powdered sugar that looked likely to transform my beard into a premature Sants look, this was soft and cakey richness incarnate with power-packed fruitiness. We also picked up some great looking brownies and banana tea bread for Claire’s fella Dave.We wandered along Queen’s Park and along to Mount Florida for a pint at the Clockwork Beer Co. Brewing onsite, this is a lively modern pub with a cracking selection of well-priced beers. It’s a good while since I’ve had two pints for the princely of £5.60 (for both, not each).
There were further public transport adventures next with a train from Mount Florida to Central, then a tube from St Enoch to Hillhead and the heart of the West End. I’d been here briefly the other day for breakfast at Avenue G.
We toyed with a visit to Cail Bruich but it was unsurprisingly full with a busy Saturday service. Instead we started with some bloody marys at Booly Mardy’s. Claire’s classic house version was a monster, served to her specification of 8/10 spicyness. My red snapper was really good, too.
We were rejoined by Laura then wandered on down Byers Road in search of a dining venue. We eventually alighted upon a fun looking Chinese called Dumpling Monkey. This was rather similar to a place I’d visited in Cambridge which I’d really enjoyed.The menu comprised a little selection of dumplings, some other dim sum dishes and a number of soup and noodle dishes. We each ordered a noodles and dumplings and I added a char sui steamed bun.
The pot-sticker dumplings were first rate with an impressive amount of flavour. The casings were rather thicker than the usual, more delicate style, but worked very nicely.Laura wasn’t thrilled by her veggie noodle soup as it was rather too heavy on the seaweed for her tastes. A good plate of pak choi hit the spot much more accurately. Claire was in noodle heaven with her dish, which was sort of like a Chinese style spag bol.
My brisket udon noodle soup was really good with the beef just excellent and the broth nicely aromatic. It was hearty and fare that filled our bellies once more.
We waddled back down Byers Road, with Claire sipping bubble coffee as we walked. We met up with another friend, Skinny, at Oran Mor, a great multi-use arts and events space, with a smart bar.
I sampled a Kelburn golden ale brewed for the venue, which was nicely drinkable.
It brought the curtain on a really enjoyable day, packed full of unexpected delights in parts of the city I didn’t previously know.
So overall, I look forward to many future trips to the southern and western parts of Glasgow. Claire was a fabulous tour guide and ensured we crammed a huge amount into a relatively short period of time. A fun time was had by all.