I received the call when I was already on my way up to Glasgow’s leafy West End. Those nice people at G1 Group timed it just right. I greeted my friend at her apartment with, “OK, I’ve been called to review The Grosvenor Cafe in Ashton Lane. Let’s go.” Twenty minutes later we were driving up to Byres Road, the University stalwart shopping and hang-out area where Ashton Lane is found in a cobbled enclave of bars, curry houses, restaurants and a cinema – The Grosvenor.
The bar/restaurant we were headed to is a Glasgow staple from my University days (longer back than I’d care to remember) that’s had quite a few incarnations. The Grosvenor Cinema has been the refuge of many illicit afternoons for students when they really should be being more productive as well as many first dates, ditto. The Grosvenor comes in two parts – A hidey-hole, artsy little bar, The Lane, that connects directly through to the cinema (Handy for Glaswegians. We get our priorities right). And the frankly massive cavernous upstairs bar/restaurant where ‘Cafe’ is a misnomer. The area is huge and easily seats 250 in a series of booths, group tables, small tables, intimate seating areas and a mezzanine level where a private party could easily hold court. This is, after all, a converted old cinema replete with original deco roof which always impresses. Just as much as the impressive staff who, while being relaxed and informal, couldn’t have been more attentive.
We arrived around 1.45pm (after a much-needed vintage shop in Byres Rd) and, thought there were numerous West End yummy mummies with young children and a gaggle of blokes at the equilateral opposite end of the restaurant with the huge square bar in between them and the kiddiewinks, the restaurant looked bare. But this is a BIG space. I mean a really big space, all dark wood flooring, dark squashy seating banquette areas, huge dim lights, and, as a note to the location, cinema posters as wallpaper in chosen areas, huge feature spotlights and a couple of private rooms called suitably, The Green Room and The Projection Room.
There was a 7 day brunch menu that included chunky sandwiches, smoked Applewood omelette, eggs Benedict and seared scallops, bacon, crushed avocado & toast while a fuller main menu included Arbroath smokie, steamed mussels, dry aged rib eye beef, a half lobster, whole roast mackerel with lemon ginger glaze and stuffed chicken, pancetta and asparagus. We shared a plate of oysters which were huge succulent and moreish. It was my guest’s first taste of oyster. She may well now be addicted. The waitress informed us that they only used locally sourced food so these Scottish beauties were worth checking out again.
For main course I chose the massive homemade Grosvenor burger (medium well) with hand cut fries and sticky, runny BBQ sauce – delicious, while my guest ordered a healthier smoked salmon & scrambled eggs on toast with creme fraiche. But any saintly goodness she’d just rubbed in my burger eating face disappeared as we both ordered our ‘made to order’ sundaes. People, this is quite the best thing. A Sundae list where you’re asked to choose ice creams ranging from vanilla, strawberry, honeycomb, caramel shortcake, pistachio and even (Scottish) tablet as well as white chocolate sorbet. Toppings range from smarties, marshmallows, smashed Oreos or nuts to strawberries and raspberries while sauces can be strawberry, Nutella or hot fudge. Just wow! This is the USP for adults and kids alike right here!
The only downside about The Grosvenor, (if you can call it a downside) is the numerous toddlers and small babies as it is so family centred and child friendly, to the extent that there’s even toy pedal trains for kids’ amusement. We were rest assured that come 8pm or 9pm, the vibe changes totally and there’s a younger, decidedly more single feel.
As we were leaving, Glasgow in all its humid hazy heat didn’t disappoint. The heavens opened with torrential torrents, almost as if to keep us there. We wouldn’t have minded save for another pressing appointment. In typical Glasgow friendly fashion, we were urged to take a couple of umbrellas by the door that are there specifically for such occasions. Hospitable to the end.