Eat - Spinning Platters
At the newly opened 78 bar in Glasgow’s West End, vegetarian food is being reinvented with a fresh yet simple twist
Glasgow has long trailed Edinburgh when it comes to dedicated vegetarian diners. Some efforts have withered (Indian Asha) while others have adapted to please carnivores (Bay Tree Café).
So, in 2007, can the city support ventures that don’t do meat? Craig Tannock, founder of 13th Note and the man behind Mono, thinks so. Last year, his Stereo was placed on standby while new digs were sought in the city centre. The 78 opened in early March on the old Finnieston site.
The Stereo premise has been stripped back to bare stone and brick walls and sanded hardwood floors. A real wood-burning fire glows at one end of the room, while the other is filled with pew-style benches. The long bar is backed by cream coloured, distressed French cupboards and the tall windows opposite open onto the pavement with tidy rows of freshly stained timber tables and chairs.
The name (in keeping with Tannock’s penchant for record-playing references) is inspired by a mid to early 20th century gramophone that stands beside stacks of old 78rpm discs. Plans are afoot for DJ spots when this piece of kit gets wound up. The range of organic and vegan beers on tap includes Freedom lager and organic Luscombe Devon cider. The house draught lager is Sam Smith’s Taddy (vegan but not organic).
The concise food menu consists of around a dozen options, chalked on blackboards, which include small dishes (£2-£3.50) and main meals (£7). The portions are good and, better still, it all seems freshly prepared, from the wee balls of fried falafel to slender chips glistening with oil and served with paprika mayo. The downside of cooking from scratch, though, is that food sometimes arrives at a 331/3 pace. But it’s still early days at 78.
Mildly spiced and rib-sticking red lentil dhal includes two light and crispy poppadums as well as a trio of plump veg and potato filled pakora, plus a pile of friable white rice (that goes a bit cold as the plate has not been heated) and a dollop of mango chutney. This dish, particularly with a side order, might well sate two light appetites. The falafel comes with a healthy serving of nutty hummus, toasted pitta pockets and fresh greens with tomato and sweet peppers. The chef doesn’t just stick to Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes: other offerings might include a tomato and coconut chilli with grilled smoked tofu.
However tasty and wholesome, 78 does not bring to Glasgow a venue producing upmarket meat-free cooking on a par with Edinburgh’s David Bann. Instead it focuses on solid café food. Should Glaswegian vegetarians (and omnivores) support this venture, the next spin may take the city in the direction of more adventurous vegetarian cuisine.
10-14 Kelvinhaugh Street, Glasgow 0141 576 5018
Food served Sun-Thu noon-8pm; Fri/Sat noon-9pm
Hearty servings of café-style vegetarian food
Drinks served til midnight