Glasgow cheap eats
Next to its sister establishments Mono, Stereo, The Old Hairdressers and The Flying Duck, gloriously laid-back café-bar The 78 is something of an odd one out. It’s situated in the West End for one thing (just off Argyll Street in Finnieston, in the same premises Stereo inhabited years back before moving into town), while its focus on food also sets it apart from its siblings. It’s vegan cuisine all the way, and delightfully done, at prices sometimes so low it feels like robbery. For proof, see the weekday burger and pint deal for £6.25, or cheaper still, dub’n’grub Thursdays, when you can get a three-course feed for less than £10.
Over the years, this The Flying Duck's hours have been extended and its scope widened so that now it’s also recognised as a bar-café, serving a limited but good quality menu at great prices – pretty much everything costs a fiver or less. The food – all vegan, as all food at this family of venues is – begins with basic lunchtime specials such as soup and sandwiches, and runs all day until 10pm around a mainstay of veggie burgers, hot dogs (onions, chilli or a full currywurst upgrade optional), mezze platters, nachos and tacos (on Taco Tuesday you can get two for just £2). Food is geared less around meals, more accompaniments to beer (can of Oranjeboom and a burger for £5 on Thursdays).
What better way to advertise how great your stock is as a deli, greengrocers and wholefoods store than by cooking with it fresh every day and serving it up in-house at fantastic prices? There’s usually a curry, two soups, a hotpot (maybe a meaty stew or suchlike), salmon and dill fishcakes and Spanish tortilla to choose from, each of which can be complemented with a whole range of sides, from pasta and Greek salad to rosemary and thyme roasted potatoes. Freshly baked sweets can include coffee and walnut cake, fruit tarts and crunchy cranachan.
The food here possesses all the great flavours, freshness and not-just-another-curry-house originality you’d expect from a Mother India, and at exceptionally good value for money. Think starters of dahl makhani or smoked lamb mince and karela, and mains such as butter chicken with fruit and nut, fenugreek mixed vegetables or stuffed mushrooms with chickpeas. There’s also a wide range of cooked-to-order spicy fish dishes, made with haddock, hake, prawns or scallops, all from local supplier Bernard Corrigan. You can easily eat a really filling meal here for little more than a tenner.
Stepping into this overly trendy caffeine haven can sometimes feel a bit like stepping into some kind of elaborate hipster parody. While the selection of vegetarian and vegan sweet and savoury bites can be gone before lunchtime on busy days the quality is very high. From phonebook-thick sandwiches accompanied with a cup or bowl of soup, to quiche or veggie rolls and sweets ranging from banana and blackberry loaf to chocolate vegan cake, everything is made fresh in-store daily, and sold at remarkably reasonable prices.
Upon opening in 2012, this became Glasgow’s first Vietnamese restaurant, and one with a fresh, casual, canteen-style feel. Prawn crackers with moreish peanut butter dip are a must-try to get you started, likewise the summer rolls – cold rice paper parcels packed with prawn, omelette, mint, coriander and noodles, for dunking in a sweet chilli dip. Pho noodle broths in chicken, beef, pork, seafood and tofu varieties make up the majority of the hot options, and are all wonderfully flavoursome. ‘From the pot’ specials can include cari-spiced coconut and coriander curry or black pepper pig’s cheeks with lemongrass pork fritter, seasonal greens and roast peanuts.
The food at Mono gets better year upon year. Whether you’re a dedicated vegan or a meat-eater in the mood for a little change, you’ll find main courses such as nasi goreng with Malaysian-style fried rice or the irresistibly flavoursome and generously proportioned spicy seitan burger. The prices are more than reasonable, too.
The drinks, and especially the food – which includes tapas-style small plates, Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches and mains, and freshly baked organic breads and cakes – are consistently excellent. Don't expect to pay through the nose for it all either - prices won't go close to breaking the bank.
The food is 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.