The West End of Glasgow is full of boutiques and specialist shops. I will be drawing you a couple of routes to take on a daytrip. Don’t worry, though, as this is not a work out, I’ll be making various coffee, cake and dinner stops.
START AT DUMBARTON ROAD
Get to where Dumbarton Road crosses Crow Road, near Partick subway station, and work westwards through all the second hand shops, to arrive at the interesting ‘Handbags and Gladrags’. You’ll spend some time there but don’t be tempted to stop for coffee on the way because Cafezique is just round the corner and gives seriously good brunch. They even do ‘Sunday brunch’ on a Monday for people who have to work weekends –how very considerate. Every time I’ve gone I’ve been surprised by the menu; it changes constantly. Gorgeous cooking, quite grumpy waiting staff, though.
Next, meander down Hyndland Road to Rio Cafe, which is decorated like a 50s American diner and offers various ‘retro’ desserts full of fun. Frankly though, if you chose Cafezique for lunch, I would suggest staying there for some baking too. Rio, in that case, will suffice for a cherry beer and a paper or two. On Friday and Saturday nights, it turns super-cool with good music. There are also some lovely galleries next to it, which are definitely worth a look. You could always go home with some original artwork. If you fancy something stronger, a wee dram for example, walk across the park towards Byers Road into the ‘Lios Mor‘. You will undoubtedly meet some old man hungry for a chat (this is supposed to sound enticing, not unnerving). You may even get some traditional music in the evening! Other places for a ‘session’ (traditional music) are Uisge Beatha (pronounced ishk baa, in case you need to ask for directions), Woodlands Road on Sundays and Tuesdays; and the Ben Nevis, on Argyle Street, on Thursdays.
GREAT WESTERN ROAD AND BYERS ROAD
Boutiquing, wine tasting and cheese, oh my! If you’re serious about this, get off at St Georges Cross subway station and go into the super-lux ‘Clive Christian’ kitchen store for a browse. The interior is done up like a Baronial Home and shines like the American dream. Très nouveau riche and a little bit hilarious. After you’ve been turfed out, head west up Great Western Road popping into second hand shops, affordable furniture places and [some] overpriced boutiques, as necessary. You’ll pass The Liquid Ship, which is worth remembering for evening fun as it has music, a very good nibbles menu and the interesting Glasgow crowd go there. On this sojourn up Great Western Road there are some must dos:
First, Lupe Pintos Deli, where you will find Mexican food galore. Do you know you should put dried avocado leaves in your chilli? Do you know where to get ready-made cheap margarita mix? Do you know where to get the best freshly made guacamole, salsa and a zillion types of chilli? Lupe Pintos Knows…! Damselfly and the Queen Bee is the place to go for gorgeous papers and a few crafty bits. It is also good for small but tasteful presents – not the gimmicky ones you are likely to find in a lot of boutiques. Timorous Beasties is a favourite of design magazines (Wallpaper, Elle Decoration, World of Interiors…) and Glasgow alike.
Then, go to Oddbins for that special bottle (I did promise you wine) or a whisky present for someone special. You will also get free wine on Saturday. Head straight over to I.J. Mellis for free cheese – boom! I.J. Mellis is listed by everyone as being Gods gift to cheese lovers – I first read about it in Sam and Sam Clark’s cookbook ‘Moro’. Finally, La Cucina sells cake glitter, really good baking materials and heart-shaped stuffed ravioli.
After all this shopping, you will need to reward yourself with a cocktail in the Ubiquitous Chip, not far off Great Western Road. The food is not as good as I remembered but the cocktails are always imaginative. You have to love a place where they display their prosecco on the bar to remind you how fabulous life is. And if you think it is too early for a cocktail, you can enjoy a walk through Ashton Lane with its twinkly lights (time dependant of course) without having to actually eat or drink there – always a bonus.
Lunch or dinner in Kember and Jones can help you line your stomach after all the good cocktail drinking. This is not the place to hang around all day drinking. It is, however, the place to leaf through gorgeous cookbooks, salivate over rosewater and polenta cakes and admire the exquisitely wrapped Italian nougats. I normally get a tapas platter of treats and a salad (chorizo, almond and manchego makes it no chore), with a glass of wine, of course.
While you’re on Byers Road, pick up a girly dress at Pink Poodle and some beautiful fish, lobster or scallops at the Alan Beveridge fish shop, next to Hillhead Subway Station.
This one is for the lazy, the uninterested in shopping or the foodies. The West End has something for everyone! You won’t get much better than an entire Sunday spent in Stravaigin eating the best fish pie in Glasgow, drinking Kru (beer aged in champagne casks) and a ‘Stravaigin Special’ consisting of brandy, brown sugar and prosecco (once the barman put this in a Moet Chandon glass just because the cocktail didn’t look pretty enough – that’s what I call service!). I love it for dog and children watching – and giggling at the hip parents who dress their children as Kurt Cobain.
If you feel the need to do more than sit in one place all day why not try a brunch crawl – start at the CrabShakk for scallops in anchovy butter, or oysters, followed by a walk through Kelvingrove Park, round the corner and THEN you can sit in Stravagin all day… How very active!