I’m just home from spending a few days in Glasgow visiting my friend Paul. We’ve known each other since we were in our teens, but then three years ago Paul upped sticks and moved to Scotland to study psychology and games design. He hasn’t looked back since, but for some reason or another I just never got around to visiting his new home… until now.
It also turns out that Glasgow is the secret vegan capital of Scotland – I was hooked when I heard that! Any excuse for a bit of a foodie weekend.
Paul, a self-professed meataholic, even tried some vegan dishes while I was over and took me to Stereo, one of the best vegan restaurants I’ve ever eaten in. Everything from the ‘rashers’ to the ‘cheese’ to the ‘haggis’ were made from vegan substitutes, and the place had a vibe far cooler than I ever could make veganism out to be. The staff were lovely, the food was great, and I was in my own little foodie heaven. I think it probably bemused Paul, who ordered a burger and didn’t really know what to expect.
So yeah, if you’re vegan and looking for dinner in the city, Stereo comes with my highest recommendations.
I also had the most incredible vegan chocolate cake in Tchai-Ovna, a tea house tucked away at the bottom of Otago Lane. We had been walking around the Botanic Gardens beforehand (see the photos – it’s a sanctuary within the city) and it began to downpour, so Paul took me here for a bit of warming up from the cold.
If ever you have a desire to sit cross-legged on a cushion drinking all kinds of strange and foreign teas, then this is the place to go in Glasgow. It strikes me as the kind of cafe that gained its customers by word of mouth, and it attracts die hard tea fans from all over the city. Paul mentioned to me that the place is on the brink of closure and with the relaxed, bohemian nature of the cafe, I’m not surprised that it ran into some difficulty. That said, they seem to have been making some big changes to the venue and perhaps with more publicity, it might just be kept as one of Glasgow’s hidden gems. I’m half tempted to force Paul to become a regular merely so that he can befriend the chefs and uncover their chocolate cake recipe – it’s been a very long time since I’ve had dairy-free cake as nice. I need more of it in my life. Fact.
Glasgow isn’t really home to many tourist attractions (bar the statue of the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head – an apt testimony to the drunken antics of Glasgow’s finest citizens and the Modern Art Museum it stands in front of) so most of its appeal lies in its quirky restaurants, cafes and tea houses. It’s a city that is perfect for walking around, for those with no agenda who simply want to waste a few days rambling about a new city and discovering the hidden delights of each and every meandering street in the place. I spent most of my time catching up with an old friend and eating my way through the weekend. No regrets. There never could be.
Now that I’ve realised how close Glasgow is and how ridiculously cheap it is to visit (the bus from the airport cost more than the flight itself) I’m definitely going to return to see Paul again before the year is out. It’s such an excellent place to unwind and take a time out, so I’ve decided that when the stress of the FE1s becomes too much, I’ll just book a flight.