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Chain-owned boho bar where the cocktails come in jam jars and dinner never costs more than a tenner. Events include bingo nights and sewing classes
Despite being quietly owned by the biggest generic pub and club chain in central Scotland, Hillhead Bookclub manages to do a just about convincing job of passing itself off as a chintzy, boho independent café-bar. The hordes of students that have flocked here during term times ever since it opened in 2010 don’t seem too fussed who owns it, being the kind of hangout that the upper end of Byres Road hitherto long lacked.
The building’s heritage as the grand old Salon cinema remains visible in the impressively ornate curved ceiling, with its intricate cornicing. Cheap drinks deals (£2 for shorts Sunday–Wednesday) go a long way to explaining what pulls in so many young people. Cocktails served in glasses, jars, teapots and even old gramophones are a quirky touch, as is a ping-pong table up on the mezzanine, and a retro video games corner (some of which may be older than the freshers you’ll spot playing them).
The food is the weakest part of the operation at Hillhead Bookclub, but still of a decent standard – especially considering the prices (‘no dish more than a tenner... ever’ says the menu). Standouts from the section amusingly and honestly titled ‘things yer maw almost certainly does better’ include Stornoway stuffed chicken with cheesy mash, steak and chips and maple-glazed gammon rib eye.
Events-wise, there are DJs most nights, and during the day at weekends too. There’s renegade bingo nights and sewing classes. There’s even a regular vintage fair on certain Sundays called Granny Would Be Proud, which see the whole of the mezzanine taken over by local independent traders, and is always worth a browse.