Restaurant review: Glasgow's Riverside Museum café
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 3 August 2011
Stunning setting but uninspiring food
Dining out in with a view of the Clyde is so rare that the new Riverside Museum’s café is an attraction in itself – let alone for the spectacular building housing the expanded collection of the old Museum of Transport. Zaha Hadid’s realised design highlights the continuing regeneration of the area, with its strikingly jagged roof reminiscent of a city skyline, or a wave, or even an electrocardiogram of Glasgow’s revitalised pulse. Inside, the exhibits are undoubtedly impressive, from the car wall and giant locomotive to the hanging velodrome.
Hopes that the café can continue this ambition and creativity are quickly dashed – despite being run by Encore, the council’s caterers who have made a decent fist of the café at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. While the café’s ceiling soars, with huge windows framing the Tall Ship Glenlee, the food is distinctly down to earth – rather bucking the recent improvement in catering at a number of our galleries, museums and visitor attractions.
The space seems too small – which may be in part due to its early popularity, yet projections average 1800 people daily, so the 100 or so capacity seems likely to strain most weekends and holidays. It’s cramped, too, for the inevitable buggies.
Wipe-clean tables and a fast turnaround (in theory anyway) impart a canteen vibe, and the food does little to elevate matters. Morning breakfast options are nothing fancy: toast, omelette, bacon bap, while lunchtime mains feature haggis, burger, haddock and pies, plus salads, sandwiches and cakes. A roasted vegetable bruschetta starter with pesto dressing offers a reason for optimism, but the burger is a good, meaty patty stifled by a soulless bap and joyless chips. Sandwiches are freshly prepared on various breads — fine up to a point but lacklustre in the delivery.
Interestingly, there’s another café here. Le Rendezvous features within one of three re-created streets spanning 1895-1980, and is an enthralling relocation of Giovanni Togneri’s Duke Street ice-cream parlour complete with the actual wooden counter and booths used in the café from 1929 to 1985. It’s a shame Rendezvous isn’t open for business. A gelato from a family-run neighbourhood favourite would have been an antidote to the rather cold, calculated world of mass catering.
+ A stunning setting in a striking building with a mesmerising outlook
- Cramped dining area with uninspiring food