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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.

Tick Tock Unlock

Last Saturday we rallied the hungover troops for a different kind of adventure. On the corner of St Vincent Street & Hope Street lies a secret door that leads to rooms of puzzles and problem solving. Our first challenge was finding the place – I’ll solve this first one for you & tell you that it’s above Martha’s. 

  

Now, all I knew about what we were doing was that it’s a group activity that can take up to 6 people per room and that we would be using teamwork to get out of the room. They start you off with a background story then you use a series of clues to find your way out of the room in an hour. 

  

Once inside, we had a ball trying to work them all out. Teamwork is key here as one person might find part of a clue whilst someone else is holding the answer to the rest of it. The game would be ideal for a team building exercise or work night out, but I’d also recommend it for hen & stag do’s. They told us that they have been popular with families travelling to Glasgow and looking for something a bit different too, just make sure the kids are old enough to understand what’s going on- I’d say nine years old plus. 

  

We escaped in 57 minutes – hooray! – but if you don’t manage it in the hour I’m told you can play on to get the rest of those niggling clues solved. Staff are watching you on a screen so can help you if needed. 

  

After getting all Sherlock Holmes, you can get dressed up with their selection of props and take some group photo momentos of the day. It is priced at £14-£16 per player, depending on how many are going into the room and takes about two hours in total. They have two gameplay rooms so if you have a bigger group then you can split into two teams and play consecutively. 
I went along with five friends and the feedback from everyone was that they loved it & want to go back to do another challenge. We thought it would be refreshing on a hen or stag to have something other than going straight to the pub to get the day started & that it would be a good ice-breaker for people that don’t know each other too well. Miss Marple watch out, because I’ll be back to Tick Tock Unlock soon! 
 

Disclaimer: we were given a complimentary game in return for a blog post but all views are honest and my own. I’ll happily pay to go back. 

Argento

I may not be a beauty blogger, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about all things girly. Those savvy folk from Argento jewellers sent me a Valentine’s surprise box and I definitely got all girly opening it!

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Argento’s roots go back to Belfast in 1997, when Pete Boyle decided to create a welcoming, casual jewellers. Now he tends to focus on quality fashion jewellery and is best known for taking Pandora to the UK. I used to shop at Argento in Glasgow’s West End but I have also been to the Belfast store. Inverness has a Pandora shop in the Eastgate Centre or I can buy other jewellery online – or make an excuse for a Glasgow trip!

The August Woods trio flower pendant necklace that they sent me retails for £25. A bit more bling than my usual style, I think this would be suited to wearing with a plain top or dress to show it off.

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Since I was on the website, I started browsing and found a gorgeous August Wood dress bib necklace that would look great for cocktails with the girls.

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I also like the chunky style to this ring…

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They sent me a selfie stick to celebrate that they are giving away selfie sticks on orders over £50 whilst stocks last – I’m a novice so excuse the photography.
Argento have offered to give my readers 20% off their next order* – handy if you are buying a Valentine’s gift this year. Just enter LOVE20 in the promo bit at the checkout.

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Along with my Argento goodies, I was sent some Vita Liberata self tan mousse in medium shade. It was excellent to get self tan that didn’t leave me smelling like biscuits and the mitt made it easy to apply. I found that it went on quite light in colour but you can layer it up for a darker result, although this could work out an expensive option. It is organic and definitely a luxury item with it retailing around £20 but it claims to last 2-3 weeks. I’ll update the post when I get to that stage. It would suit people with lighter skin and you don’t need to moisturise before putting it on.

Remember to enter LOVE20 at the online checkout* if you’re buying anything from Argento to get your discount.

*not valid on Pandora or Nomination

Glasgow You’re Slipping Out Of My Reach

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve felt terrible not saying anything on here about it but this morning I decided that the time has come… I’m leaving Glasgow!
By the end of the year I will no longer live in this amazing city and I’m feeling sad about it this morning. Being away from my friends & family up north finally pulled me back to Inverness when a job offer up there came about.

So that’s why things on here have been so quiet recently. Between painting and decluttering the flat, sorting out getting the flat on the market, working full-time & spending as much time with friends down here as possible, it’s been a busy month.
I have a bit of a backlog so I’ve still got some lovely meals to tell you about and the BBC Good Food Show Glasgow. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to live without Celino’s, La Lanterna and Tempo Tea (among others) so I’ll be up and down the road regularly for the first year at least to wean myself off these delicious addictions.

I intend to still blog on here whenever I’m down visiting folk so make sure you’re signed up for e-mail notifications. It will just mean relentless eating and drinking in a small space of time- I think I’ll manage!

Until then, keep reading what I’ve been up to recently and follow my second blog, Highland Foodie, as I begin this new journey.

I’m going to miss you more than words can say Glasgow.

Also follow Highland Foodie on
Twitter: @highlandfoodie
Instagram: highland foodie
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/highlandfoodie
E-mail me at thehighlandfoodie@gmail.com

October In Glasgow

Wow – what a busy weekend this one is! I’m currently in Inverness to attend the wedding of two of my good friends but there is lots going on in Glasgow in my absence. Since I’m not there to write about them I thought I’d share some of the local events that are on this month in case you’re sitting at home bored…

Eats From The Streets
Glasgow Fort shopping park is hosting a street food weekender with a street food village outside of Argos. Each weekend will see 5 different vendors with an emphasis on local.
Shopping and eating-ok then!
My favourite Breaking Bread will be there cooking up a storm, as will Nusou, Scotland’s pick for the 2014 British Street Food Awards.
If you can’t make it to The Fort this weekend then they are also running it on the 1st & 2nd of November, the 29th & 30th of November & the 27th & 28th of December.

Furniture Pop-Up Shop
The first ‘furniture pop-up shop’ is set to take place in the West End of Glasgow on the 11th & 12th of October, basing itself in the quaint Willow Bank Bowling Club situated just off Byres Road. The FPU team are inviting the public who are interested in home ware, textiles & furniture to come to the inaugural event – there will be something for everyone’s taste.
The event is great for budding designers to use as a platform to showcase their work & I’m all for finding new pretty things!
If you can’t make it then the next one is scheduled for the 6th & 7th of December.

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The Soda Shop & Cocktail Emporium
I love a pop-up and this one is running from now until the 27th of November, 5pm until midnight every day.
With live entertainment every Friday & Saturday, I’m excited to try their extensive list of sodas, cocktails, milkshakes & hard shakes (booze & milkshake…yum!). The sodas are made from a fountain on-site at the point of consumption so they’ll be super fresh. 9 weeks to go as many times as I can, challenge accepted.

568 Dumbarton Road, Partick, G11 6RH

That’s all I’ve got for now but keep an eye out for updates if anything catches my eye… Have a great October.

It’s Giveaway Time!

I have 3 pairs of tickets for the Glasgow BBC Good Food Show to giveaway! The tickets are valid on Friday the 17th or Sunday the 19th of October at the SECC in Glasgow.

To enter all you have to do is share the competition post (or RT on twitter) & like Girl Around Glasgow on Facebook/ follow me on twitter. Alternatively, you can comment below to be in the draw for free tickets.

Get me on Twitter @girlaroundglasg or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/girlaroundglasgow

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I missed the show last year & was gutted afterwards because so many people were raving about it.
This year there are over 130 exhibitors with tasters selling the best this country has to offer.
They have a producers village that can help with your discovery of speciality food and artisan produce alongside an eat well pavilion. This will be geared to teaching you cooking methods and foods that can be nutritional beneficial.
After your good behaviour, head to the bakes & cakes village for a treat.

In the supertheatre you could watch Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, James Martin or Tom Kitchin cooking dishes live and sharing their best tips. Or if you’ve always wanted to ask your favourite chef a question then you can catch them at the interview stage.

There’s even a BBC Good Food Kitchen that will serve you up a delicious lunch using recipes from the magazine for a small fee.

I’m looking forward to eating my way around the SECC and coming home with some goodies!

Someone will take the crown of Glasgow’s Best Deli (c’mon Celinos) and win a free stand at the show – something that Billingtons of Lenzie had the honour of winning last year.

So remember that all you have to do to enter is share the competition post & follow me on Facebook or twitter. Alternatively, you can comment below to be in the draw for free tickets.

I’ll draw the winners on Wednesday the 1st of October.

Good luck!

UPDATE!!

And the winners of the giveaway (chosen by picking out of three hats, one for each of twitter/wordpress/Facebook) are…
Fie Heath (Coffee & Confetti) on wordpress
Dolly Roger on twitter
Myra Miller on Facebook

Please e-mail your names & addresses to girlaroundglasgow@gmail.com so I can send the tickets out!!

For those of you who haven’t won you can get 20% off if you book your tickets by Sunday quoting WW20

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

I would like to start by saying – Glasgow, I could not be prouder!!

Out of everybody that I’ve spoken to on the topic, we had no idea how much the Commonwealth Games was going to affect the city. We weren’t expecting the ridiculous underground queues to be quite so big (use the shuttle buses people), so many people to be milling about in the city but most of all we never expected to feel so much pride. There was a point during the opening ceremony that I was scared that we could pull it off after a massive dose of clichés on my telly. Alas, I needn’t have worried. After all, People Make Glasgow.

 

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I went to two games sessions – athletics and diving – and enjoyed them both even although I’m not particularly sporty. Contrary to what I had heard we found it relatively easy to get to Hampden. The shuttle bus queue was cleared in ten minutes and it was a fast journey. The athletics was action packed with up to 4 events going on at the same time. We had excellent seats in front of the high jump, discus throw and hammer throw. We were also treated to watching the long jump, 100m, 400m and 1500m.

Bobrownicki for Scotland

Bobrownicki for Scotland

We got a train to Edinburgh to watch the mens 1m and womens synchronised 10m diving. Wow, it was crazy hot in there and we ended up eating ice-cream even although it was raining outside. The diving was fascinating to watch, especially the synchronised dives. Such skill.

 

En girls sync

I spent much of the two weeks working but, any time that I wasn’t in work, I was off exploring the pop-ups and events that were around the city. My highlight was definitely the Merchant City Festival. They host it every year but this year was bigger and better than I have ever seen. Every road was crammed with stalls & food places and there were a couple of stages with live music. Notably, the Brunswick Hotel/Brutti Ma Buoni had a big stage, a BBQ style grill and bar stalls that we spent a couple of nights at. If they do all of this again next year then I think I should ask for that week off and take advantage. The weather behaved too so it felt like we were in a different city!

 

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Pop-up restaurant The Fish Plaice on Trongate went down a storm. This unique place fused Scotland’s freshest catch with live DJ sets under fairy lights. We tried to go a second time but the waiting list was massive – surely a sign that they should become a permanent fixture?! Turn the music down a bit and build a toilet block and you’re ready to go.

 

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Glasgow Green also had transformed into the Live Zone, which had big screens showing that days events, a stage with dancers & musicians and a host of activities. I was not brave enough to try to outrun Usain Bolt in front of an audience but I did enjoy watching others. It was lovely to spot the Three Sisters Bake van but I felt that we needed more local stalls to fully utilise the games for local benefit.

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George Square had the official Commonwealth Games shop and The Big G 3D installation to mark the event. Then Buchanan Street & Argyle Street were full of street performers – from jazz bands to juggling with knives. Certainly made my usual walks more interesting.

 

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There was also the Clyde Trail where you could download a map to find the twenty-something Clyde mascots around the city. I haven’t spoken to anyone who managed them all but Glasgow Food Geek got pretty close.

 

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The city got a bit of a clean up before all of our visitors and I think the new artwork is great.

 

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C’mon Scotland! Loved the Wellington Statue getting into the spirit of things.

 

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What a two weeks… with Caledonia now on my phone and a refreshed love for Glasgow I wish we could do it all again.

 

 

Finally, I wanted to share some more of my photos so have a gander-

 

Meeting James Heatly after his dive

Meeting James Heatly after his dive

Female sync divers

Female sync divers

Tom Daley supporting the other divers

Tom Daley supporting the other divers

Breaking Bread street food

Breaking Bread street food

Limited time Irn Bru shop

Limited time Irn Bru shop

The Big G

The Big G

Brunswick Hotel outside bar

Brunswick Hotel outside bar

Art at the Fish Plaice pop up

Art at the Fish Plaice pop up

Hampden pano

Hampden pano

Hampden athletics

Hampden athletics

Irn Bru poem

Irn Bru poem

Scottish busking

Scottish busking

Ping Wan Coombes on Buchanan Street

Wan Ping Coombes on Buchanan Street

Edinburgh Commonwealth Pool

Edinburgh Commonwealth Pool

Glasgow Green Stage

Glasgow Green Stage

Loved the wee remote controlled cars used to return the discus

Loved the wee remote controlled cars used to return the discus

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Heatly

Heatly

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Laugher

Laugher

Cubatas – Brave Glasgow Tapas

Glasgow is awash with new places to eat and drink. I’m sure that I am not the only one that feels torn between being faithful to the old favourites and the buzz of something new. Trying to balance it is tricky so only the best will survive. It’s almost like restaurants are auditioning for the city in those first few months. I feel for new passionate restaurateurs that are trying to turn their dream into a stable day to day living. It’s brave. So to applaud the bravery I have to try every new place (I can’t be unfair now). I first heard about Cubatas through Yelp and other bloggers and it was all compliments so more than enough to convince me.

Cubatas tapas bar & restaurant is in Elderslie Street in the old Ashoka curry karaoke building, that is in the Finnieston/Charing Cross area of Glasgow. Argyle Street now has so many great restaurants, cafes and bars that it is starting to spill over into side streets like Elderslie Street. It also came with the bonus that we could park right outside.

Tapas always appeals to me because I always want to taste a bit of everything so the menu was always going to work in my mind. Cubatas did throw some non-Spanish curveballs in there like nachos, chicken curry, beer chicken and chilli con carne – I’m reserving judgement on them until I try them but another blogger did recommend the beer chicken.

When choosing our dishes we weren’t sure how many to pick because some of them are much cheaper than what you’d expect. For instance – their chicken skewers are priced at £3.50 when most place would charge £5-6. This is reflected in portion size in most of them and allows you to try one or two more.

We ordered pan de ajo (garlic bread) and olives to stop my tummy rumbling enough to make some food decisions. The size of the olive portion was far larger than we’d expected for £1.50 but we were not complaining. The garlic bread wasn’t too pungent and definitely home-made. Their draft beer is Kozel, a Czech lager that I’d never heard of but that was well suited to a mix of dishes.

Tortilla Espanola is usually what I use to suss out what I think of a tapas restaurant. Cubatas version looked small because it was cut up but I think if it had arrived whole I would not have noticed. This is clearly a well practiced dish with its well-seasoned, flavoursome characteristics. It is the best version that I’ve come across in Glasgow.

For indulgence we ordered bacon wraps with chicken and melting cheese. These were also served on cocktail sticks like a pincho is. Again, the flavour scale was impressive and we were impressed.

The menu has a whole rice section and, instead of the usual paella, we tried the spicy Mexican rice with onions and peppers. In retrospect I wish that we’d had paella because I think it suits a tapas meal better. The rice was pleasant but I wasn’t convinced that it held its own against the other dishes and I would have enjoyed it better with some jerk chicken or something similar.

The last dish to complete our first set was torpedos de chorizo – chorizo wrapped in pastry and oven baked. Quality chorizo warm from the oven with the slight crunch of pastry. This is such a simple idea and we thought they were great.

Tuna salad was next and we both felt it lacked a zingy dressing. I noticed that they have updated their menu recently so they might have changed this already.

Just to really make sure that we got our carb intake we had gone for patatas al graten. This translated into potato gratin and it is a dish that I choose often as its too indulgent for me to justify making at home. It arrived on the table and we were confused because it was not a gratin – it looked like potato skins. We gingerly tried it and it was really very tasty. Like the ingredients of a gratin had been shook up, modernised and put into some potato skins. A certain success but the menu could do with a description change.

A short gap and desserts were calling us. We ordered crema catalana and a mixed ice-cream. I’ll get the negative out of the way first – we felt that the vanilla ice-cream let the pack down. It was not as smooth and rich as the other flavours. On the other hand, the chocolate and strawberry ice-creams were a delight and I would happily order them again.

The crema catalana was the real star here. It was superior to most with notes of citrus and a delectable creaminess.

After that first visit I wanted to take my husband in to experience it too. We shared a cheese and meat platter (ridiculously good value for money), patatas bravas, pork skewers, mixed greens, calamari, gambas pil pil and mushrooms with black pudding. The only one that we weren’t bowled over by was the greens. The rest were delicious and proved to me that my first visit was not good by chance. We had planned to have a pint in the beer garden that the manager was building when I had visited the first time but it was bucketing down. If the sun stays out then we might get to do it soon.

Cubatas has some purse friendly lunch and pre-theatre menus that will entice me to return. It is a casual place and the staff made us feel very welcome. I was watching how the serving staff were interacting with other customers & they were always smiling. It looks like a good place to work and they seemed proud of it.

Glasgow is fierce in more ways than one. We protect what we like and don’t accept any rubbish. The eating out scene is multicultural and varied with Spanish food joining the pack. Personally I love tapas for an informal meal so I can graze on a piece of one food then nibble on another. Tapas may not be in fashion right now but it’ll never go far away in my thoughts. It’s a yes from me.

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I was invited to Cubatas for a complimentary meal. We paid for the second meal after enjoying the first. All of my opinions are honest as usual.

Cubatas Tapas Bar and restaurant on Urbanspoon

Competition Time: Win Tickets For Edinburgh foodie Festival!

As I mentioned in my blog’s first birthday post, Girl Around Glasgow is running its first competition!

Foodies Festival is back in Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on Friday the 8th, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of August. It is the biggest celebration of food and drink in the UK and I can’t wait to go as one of their official bloggers (and write about it afterwards). Inverleith Park is half an hour walk from Waverley station or a short taxi journey if it rains.

 

I won’t be taking part in the chilli eating contest but I will check out the (mild section of the) chilli food market and you’ll find me boogie-ing it on down at the vintage tea tent dances. Then I definitely won’t miss the real ale & cider farm. The feasting tent and BBQ area will be where I spend most of my time, no surprise there. Finally, street food avenue with its foods from around the world sounds fantastic.

 

Running for its eighth year, chefs will include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, Café St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey. Catch them all at the chefs theatre cooking up their favourite dishes.

 

Courtesy of those generous Foodie Festival folk, I am giving away 5 pairs of day tickets. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is follow this blog by e-mail. You can do this at the right hand side of this page near the top. On a mobile device just scroll down the page and under categories it says ‘follow blog by e-mail’ and fill your e-mail in. Once you have done this, head over to your email inbox where there should be an email from WordPress waiting for you. Click on it to confirm you want blog emails. If you already follow my blog by e-mail then like this post on wordpress or comment on it to be in with a chance of winning.

 

I will announce the winner on Tuesday the 16th of July. Good luck!

If you don’t win then Foodies Festival are giving all of my readers 2 for 1 tickets if you quote FOODIES241 when you book.
I can’t wait to hear what you thought & tweet me (@girlaroundglasg) with any photos.

Girl Around Glasgow is 1!

I have been writing Girl Around Glasgow for a whole year now so I thought that the best way to celebrate was to look back at my favourite places in our ever changing city so that if you just started reading you don’t have to trawl through a years worth of my ramblings.

A year ago when I started I wrote about my favourites at the time in Laura’s Glasgow restaurant favourites July 2013 and below is a little summary of my current recommended places.

Before that, I just wanted to thank everyone for reading, commenting, following and supporting my writings so far. I enjoy it immensely and love getting feedback so let me know if there’s anywhere you think I should visit or you’d like to see on here.

In the next week or so I will be running a competition to celebrate a year running and you could win tickets to this years Edinburgh Foodies Festival in August at Inverleith Park so keep an eye out because it is set to be a cracking weekend.

 

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My Favourites At The Moment

Tapas/Spanish: Malaga Tapas – traditional place in a strange location with fantastic menu choices

Fish: The Fish People Cafe – tiny, with a small but perfectly formed menu. Picpoul recommended.

Greek: Yiamas – simple taverna style with proper Greek pitta.

Italian: La Lanterna – I have so much love for La Lanterna. Have the homemade ravioli.

American/Burgers: Bread Meats Bread – In my opinion the best burger in Glasgow

Scottish: Cail Bruich – Will someone just give them a Michelin star already?!

              Number 16 – Just the right side of inventive.

Italian Deli/Restaurant: Celinos – Dennistouns finest

Places I’ve only visited once but really enjoyed (reviews not yet written): Ox & Finch, Drygate (eaten once but it is pretty much my local now), Cubatas tapas and Eat Cafe.

 

What has been your favourite meal out in Glasgow during the last year and why?