Restaurant review: Emirates Arena Café
- Laura Muetzelfeldt
- 27 March 2014
The café offers an attractive insight into the legacy many hope for from Glasgow 2014
The caterers for Glasgow City Council’s museums and galleries have upped their game at the shiny new Emirates Arena. Laura Muetzelfeldt gets geared up to discover a revolution in healthy stadium food
They aren’t always listed on the menu, but chips are served. No surprise for a stadium eatery, perhaps, but worth mentioning here as the Emirates Arena Café, run by Cordia’s hospitality wing Encore, is setting the pace for a leaner, fresher, healthier breed of stadium food. There's not even a burger in sight.
Along with seasonally inspired menus, this new approach has helped it become the first leisure facility in Britain to achieve the admirable Gold Food for Life Catering Mark, awarded by Soil Association Scotland. A scheme adopted by many schools and other institutions around the country, Food for Life provides bronze, silver and gold benchmarks guaranteeing that certain percentages of food offered on menus is freshly prepared, seasonal, ethically sound, and free from additives.
During the summer, the arena is hosting two Commonwealth Games sports – badminton and, in the adjacent Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, cycling – so it’s no surprise that the café fully subscribes to the Commonwealth Games Food Charter. Signing up to the admirably ambitious charter is a promise to serve food that is locally sourced and environmentally friendly, representing the best of Scotland’s natural produce.
The integrity and transparency encouraged by the charter is evident at the café’s counter. All the ingredients for salads and sandwiches are visible, allowing for a tailor-made approach to taking on fuel between training sessions. And choice is key here, with virtuous containers of fresh fruit sitting beside jolly tubs of strawberry cheesecake.
A commitment to quality ingredients is also evident: Ayrshire ham, ribboned with thin strands of fat, is a world away from the watery squares found in supermarket packets; black olives are shrivelled and salty and sun-drenched with flavour; and a range of fresh pasta is made with organic flour.
Complementing this fresh outlook is the clean, modern design. Mid-century modern lampshades dangle from the ceiling like angular pinecones, mosaic pictures of different sports by local primary school pupils decorate one wall, and a random assortment of red, white and black moulded chairs help to create a relaxing and cheerful atmosphere. With a large window looking onto the arena itself, along with food to satisfy the appetite you’ve worked up while working out, the café offers an attractive insight into the legacy many hope for from Glasgow 2014.
+ Officially accredited food – and Olympic standard Mango Tango smoothie
- Closed during the Commonwealth Games (food vans will be outside)