Vegetarian guide to Glasgow

Glasgow is quickly garnering a reputation as a burger hotspot (if you ever visit and want to experience the phenomenon for yourself, St Vincent Street may as well be renamed Burger Street with a Five Guys, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Handmade Burger Co literally within doors of each other), but did you know that it was also named the best place for vegan food in the UK? As it's National Vegetarian Week, I thought I would put together a little guide to the best places to visit for meat-free food in Glasgow - and prove there's more here than just burger bars!

Nice n Sleazy



Okay, okay, I know what I just said, but there are some amazing vegetarian burgers in Glasgow. My favourite (and I've tried a lot) is the Heart of the Sunrise burger at Nice n Sleazy. This burger piles high grilled marinated halloumi cheese, slices of fresh avocado, roast peppers, tomato and pepper salsa, rocket, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. I know I've listed everything, but, let's face it, it's all about that halloumi cheese. Wash it down with one of their incredible frothy milkshakes.

While we're talking burgers, Gourmet Burger Kitchen lets you substitute any of the meat burgers for a veggie filling - so, instead of the usual token veggie offering, you can choose from any of the burgers and just let them know to swap the meat for a bean patty (which might make Gourmet Burger Kitchen the only restaurant to actually offer more options to vegetarians than meat eaters!).

Bar Bloc

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If you don't fancy a burger, but still want to stick with cheesy, American, comfort food, try the infamous Not Dog from Bar Bloc. This beauty is homemade from butternut squash, chickpeas, sweet potato, tahini, red lentils, walnuts and spices, and served with a generous pouring of avocado cheese sauce, Quorn chilli, toasted walnuts, dried apricot, torn mint and French's mustard. It doesn't matter whether you're vegetarian or a meat eater, the Not Dog is the best thing on the menu.

I can't mention hotdogs in Glasgow and not mention The Flying Duck, where you can snap up a vegetarian hotdog for only £2 (and add onions, chilli or sauerkraut for a measly 90p). This bar has a small but perfectly formed menu of cheap vegetarian bar food - perfect for a lazy dinner after work.

Lucky 7 Canteen



If you do fancy leaving the culinary world of the U S of A, the Moroccan sweet potato and chickpea stew at
Lucky 7 Canteen is a good place to start. The menu specifies this is served with flatbread and rice, but I had it with cous cous a couple of weeks ago and it was incredible. I was that awkward person asking the waiter what type of cous cous the chef had used, but, damn, it was good cous cous. By the way, the waiter didn't know, so if you're a whizz in the kitchen and recognise it, please let me know! I'm dying to recreate this plate of perfection at home.

Tchai-Ovna

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Leaving the city centre and venturing into the West End, Tchai-Ovna is a bohemian little tea room down Otago Lane which serves vegetarian and vegan food, homemade baking and over 100 varieties of tea. Spend an afternoon here and feel like you're hanging out in your friend's - slightly ramshackle - living room. If you're peckish, try the curry, dahl or falafel, or simply nurse a pot of tea for a little while (I recommend the strawberry and kiwi).

Bill's Restaurant



While I'm all for a quick and cheap Wetherspoons breakfast every now and again, for something a bit more special try Bill's Restaurant. I had Bill's vegetarian breakfast last month and I've been craving it ever since - with poached eggs, tomatoes, hummus, mushrooms, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce and toast, this definitely beats a rushed cereal bar on the commute to work! For a full breakfast, this still felt very healthy, with nothing fried in sight. Of course, I had to make it slightly less healthy with a huge hot chocolate, complete with a flake...

I hope if you're local to Glasgow, or just passing through, you find my little guide helpful. These are some of my personal favourites, but there are so many more places to choose from. The Flying Duck and Tchai-Ovna are my only choices which are completely meat-free but so are Mono, The 13th Note, Usha's Vegetarian and The 78 - and all come highly recommended. 

Have you ever tried any of the places I've mentioned? If you have recommendations for the best vegetarian food in your city, please let me know! 

Happy National Vegetarian Week, everyone!

Shrek the Musical at the King's Theatre

Last weekend I braved Glasgow city centre on a Saturday night to watch Shrek the Musical at the King's Theatre. Sam treated me to the tickets back in 2013, thinking they were for May 2014, so I was surprised that we hadn't forgotten about the show after waiting over two years to see it! 






























While two years is a long time, Shrek the Musical was definitely worth the wait. The story stays true to the well-loved film which burst on to our screens way back in 2001, but the addition of new songs and jokes mean the musical never felt tired or predictable.

While the staging, costume and orchestra (conducted by Dave Rose), were impeccable, I have to focus on the stellar cast who filled the boots of these adored characters with ease. Idriss Kargbo managed to create the perfect blend of lovable and annoying with his portrayal of Donkey, Dean Chisnall was spot on as the down-to-earth, funny and occasionally vulnerable Shrek, and Faye Brookes was perfect in the role of the stubborn and tough Princess Fiona. 

However, Gerard Carey undoubtedly stole the show as the camp, nasty and ostentatious villian, Lord Farquaad. Playing the show on his knees - to highlight Lord Farquaad's obvious Short Man Syndrome - can't have been easy, but Gerard brought such high energy and perfect comic timing to the role. The stage lit up during his scenes and the audience roared with laughter - so much so that I think everyone in the theatre was a little sad when he met his eventual gory end! 






























As a massive fan of the film, I was happy that so much of the show stayed true to the plot. The inclusion of Welcome to Duloc made me smile ('Please keep off the grass, shine your shoes, wipe your... face!' still makes me laugh fourteen years later) and I loved the focus on the adorable and feisty Gingy. I was tempted to buy myself a Gingy puppet from the merchandise stand but managed to resist (just).

I love the story of Shrek for retelling the traditional fairytales with a generous dollop of tongue in cheek humour, and Shrek the Musical perfectly captured this light-hearted comedy which appeals to adults and children alike. I loved watching the film come to life on stage and thought the cheeky additions to the story were genius. Let's just say, if you do go see it, watch out for the story of Lord Farquaad and his dad...

Shrek is currently out of London's West End and touring around the country. Visit the official website to find out when it will be near you

Winnie's very special birthday

Winnie Blagden turns 100 years old on May 31st and an appeal for birthday cards to mark her special day has gone viral. The appeal was launched by BBC Radio Sheffield, after the care home who support her, Serenta HomeCare, contacted them, saying 'To get 100 cards for her birthday would be fantastic'.





The appeal was posted on the BBC Radio Sheffield Facebook page yesterday and has since been shared thousands of times, with hundreds of people commenting to say they want to help make Winnie's birthday even more special. As well as birthday cards, being sent from as far away as America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, people have pledged birthday treats - with a florist sending 100 pink roses, a beauty salon offering a pamper package, personalised slippers from a luxury clothing company and a ride in a limousine, to name a few!

Sue Pinder, co-owner of Serenta HomeCare, says 'Winnie has no family, she has a few friends through church, she never had children and her husband died 35 years ago... Winnie is a selfless person, she cares about everybody but herself. She says to me, "I'm just me, I'm not special." But she is'


























I popped into Sainsburys this morning before work to buy a card, because, the second I read about the appeal, I knew I wanted to help Winnie celebrate. If you would like to take part and send Winnie a card or gift, please address your post to Winnie Blagden, BBC Radio Sheffield, 54 Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1 4RS. The radio will present Winnie with her cards and gifts on 28th May, a few days before her birthday.

Please let me know if you take part. This is one of my favourite online appeals ever - let's help make Winnie's landmark birthday even more special! 

This was my April

Oh, April, how I miss you already.

If you read my Easter weekend post you'll know me and April (and, let's face it, me and chocolate) have a bit of a thing for each other. With a line-up of Easter, my birthday, my mum's birthday and sunnier weather, April is a month I'm always sad to see the back of.




























In case I haven't banged on about it enough already, it was my birthday in April and I celebrated with so much glorious food. The Cinderella birthday cake was a thing of beauty made by friend, Gillian, who runs buttercup bakery - the (soft, creamy, sweet) sponge didn't last long, but I've kept the sugar carriage and banner because I can't bring myself to throw them away! Sam treated me to breakfast at Bill's on the morning of my birthday: I umm'ed and ahh'ed over the pancakes and muesli for ages, before opting for a vegetarian breakfast and hot chocolate (well, if you can't on your birthday, when can you?!).






























The Saturday before my birthday I popped along to the Glasgow University Veterinary Medical Association rodeo, which is an annual fundraiser run by vet students to raise money for animal-related organisations. This was the 55th rodeo held by the university and all money raised was donated to Guide Dogs Scotland, Cats ProtectionDogs Trust, Trusty Paws Clinic, Students for Animals in Need, the Vet Fund, Willows Animal Sanctuary and the Riding for the Disabled Association. There were several animal charities at the event, complete with a few furry friends (seriously though, it's dangerous to take me anywhere where there are dogs wearing little jackets that say 'I need a home!' on them), as well as animal and falconry demonstrations. I'm a bit iffy about any events which feature animals because I worry about cruelty but it was obvious that none of the animals at the event had to do anything they were unhappy about (as demonstrated by the saker falcon which simply flew off during the demonstration!), and it was clear that the students and volunteers running the event were huge animal lovers.

I, of course, jumped right in with the animal handling sessions and handled a snake, ferret, mouse and dwarf hamster. Spending the day in the sunshine surrounded by animals and animal lovers was a pretty perfect Saturday afternoon for me.






























I then jetted off to Berlin for a lovely few days spent wandering around the city in the sunshine with my favourite person. I won't blabber on about it too much (I blabbered on about it for a full post last week) but it was so lovely to get away for a few days and enjoy some rare time off together.




























When we got back from Berlin we decided to add a new addition to our little family - say hello to Fawn! Since Daisy passed away last year, we knew we wanted another friend for Cotton, and the minute I saw Fawn I knew she was The One. They get on together so well already that it's honestly as if they've known each other their entire lives. It's lovely to see how much it's perked Cotton up as well, and of course it's lovely to have a baby guinea pig in the flat again!

Now I look back on it I realise I had a pretty animal loving month, especially if you also read about my trip to the city farm over Easter and the zoo in Berlin - not that I'm complaining! 

I hope you all had a lovely April and that May is treating you well (despite her torrential rain showers). 
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