Month: August 2015

Laboratorio Espresso- You Know, Just Off Buchanan Street

Having a name like Laboratorio Espresso makes you sound like you know what you’re doing, but it is also one of those names that doesn’t just roll off the tongue so I generally forget what they’re called. At the beginning it was ‘that coffee shop just off Buchanan Street, on West Nile Street’ and now I generally just go with ‘lab’ for a less complicated life. 

  

The fancy name goes with the suave building in which it is housed. 1 West Regent Street is a ten storey sleek black number that was built in 2013 & 2014, and right on the edge of the West Nile side is Laboratorio Espresso. The coffee house is teeny tiny with only ten seats inside but they have four tables outside to increase seating. On the pathway from the train and tube station to the commercial district, I imagine that much of their business comes from takeaway pre-work power coffees. 

This independent cafes salvaged look outside tables hint at what to expect inside- but once you get in it is better than expected. Look up high at weathered wood planks reclaimed from the Glasgow School Of Art’s restoration project and see how they soften the concrete lower level. The interior has simple touches but they are few and far between to avoid cluttering the space. The style of the wooden chairs remind me of going into primary school but there is nothing elementary about this place. 
  

They know about their coffee. From the shiny La Marzocco machine that sits on the counter to the HasBean beans that are being used, a quiet air of seriousness surrounds the coffee in here. Lab Espresso is the kind of place that I can order a flat white in the comfort that it will come how it should – creamy but strong. You’ll never have to moan about a cappuccino because it has a mere centimetre of foam and worry if the coffee will be bitter due to overzealous overgrinders that morning. 

I had a long day ahead of me so a flat white was needed to blow my socks off and a cannoli was, well, not needed. But definitely being purchased.   
  

The cakes are only small so I had two – a chocolate cannoli and a mini pistachio croissant. The croissant had enough of the sweet, nutty icing in each mouthful without losing its flaky, buttery nature. Then the cannoli…oh the cannoli with its rich chocolate centre and crunchy exterior. I want one now.
  

As you can probably tell by now, I’m pretty taken by Lab Espresso. Passion is contagious and I’ve caught their bug.

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Being Bad At Five Guys

Cheating on someone is a horrible business. There’s this overwhelming guilt that keeps feelings cooped up inside- feelings of worthlessness and shame. How will I ever go back? 

Today I am forcing myself to be brave and put into words what I did. Here goes, please don’t judge. 

 I cheated on Bread Meats Bread… I cheated on local and I cheated on Glasgow as I knew it… I went to Five Guys for lunch. I’m sorry, really sorry. 

In my defence, we were going to go to Bread Meats Bread but the queue was long and we were pushed for time. Five Guys had been on my will-I-won’t-I radar for a while so we just did it. In my account of our visit I will be as objective as I can be & throw my guilt aside. 


  

We stepped in through the unfamiliar doors to a big menu on the wall and a counter to order at. There was no queue so we could order immediately after choosing. As you can see from the menu, you choose a basic burger type or hot dog then customise it. I asked for a cheeseburger with mayo, pickles, ketchup & onions. As much as I like vegetables, too much in a burger can make the whole experience fall apart. Fries – the only side they seem to do- completed my food order & I went for a refillable drink to wash it down. 
They gave us cups for the self serve so we helped ourselves. I like a cheeky cherry coke on occasion and this was one of those days. We then waited at the service area for our number to be called. It was nice to watch them making the burgers & quite atmospheric listening to the chefs shout back and forth. I guess it added to the American burger joint feel that I’d expected. 
  
There are three floors of seats and, as the ground floor was pretty full, we chose to go upstairs. This was the biggest mistake we made because it was VERY loud. I felt like I’d gone back to the school canteen. Between the noise of other diners (many under 20 years old & giddly on too much refillable coke) & the shouting from the kitchen downstairs, I developed a headache. A burger tends to be my hangover food but there’s no way I would choose somewhere so noisy the day after the night before so it gets crossed off that list. I went down to the basement to the toilet and it was somewhat quieter down there but I imagine with such a low roof it only takes a couple of tables of teenagers to turn rowdy. I’m only 31 so it makes me feel old writing about the noise but it just shows how loud it is – my mum would have walked straight back out. 
  

On to the burger and fries. The burger itself consisted of two thin patties and they were still juicy with lots of oozy cheese. The bun held together but didn’t have the sweetness that I prefer from a brioche. I still really enjoyed the burger and would give it 8/10. The fries were crispy outside and soft inside – a good effort indeed. One regular sized fries is enough for two people so don’t buy two or you’ll be left with lots or have to be rolled out of there. 

A couple more sides – maybe some onion rings for instance – would have added to the experience. 

  
I was disappointed to see that the fries are cooked in peanut oil considering how many people are allergic to nuts. There was no alternative to this on the board so I assume that there is none. They also give out free peanuts & they were placed in boxes with scoops around the place. If you’ve ever been on an aeroplane & it’s come over the tannoy that nuts are not being served due to another passenger with a serious allergy then surely you’ll see the flaw in Five Guys plan. Everyone loves a freebie and a novelty idea but when a reported 1 in every 100 people in the UK are allergic to peanuts* it seems nonsensical. 
  
So my visit really was full of peaks & troughs. The food was a high point but the noise and peanut thing was a real low point for me. It’s such a shame as the food was a solid effort. After speaking to a friend who thought the same thing maybe Five Guys need to look into creating a more comfortable atmosphere in the stark white building. 

I’ve been dithering about if I’d go back or not because of this & I guess it depends on availability of seats at the other nearby places on burger street. Maybe they have got their target market and I’m not it but students must have more money now than they used to if they’re to keep this place going. Parents might like the noise so they don’t feel self-conscious about their loud kids too. It falls more into the takeaway category for me but is a pricey takeaway at £13.25 for a cheeseburger, small fries & drink. 

*Source: http://patient.info/health/nut-allergy