Monthly Archives: June 2012

Open up and say Bienvenido at Poncho Villa

So ask yourself – do I feel lucky?

In this wet humid weather truthfully I feel more uncomfortable-dirty-hairy than lucky.  And with not a holiday in sight, I decide to go for the next best thing – and escape to Mexico.  Kind of.

Located in the heart of the Merchant City on Bell Street, Poncho Villa  is a fantastic and friendly eatery offering a vast selection of tasty Mexican-inspired nosh.   Its aromatic food and bold, bright surroundings are topped off with some of the friendliest staff in Glasgow.

With such an extensive menu, our biggest challenge is deciding just which of these tempting dishes to get.  Of course Sangria is a must.  We start with the Nachos (£5.75) and finish with the Vegetarianas (£10.95) and King Prawn (£13.95) Fajitas that can only be described as heaped up, hearty, delectable deliciousness bursting with flavour.

Waiter, there’s a worm in my drink

Poncho villa Mezcal Tequila - worm optionalAnd  while we’re too stuffed to take on dessert, when in the Villa, Tequila also goes without saying –  especially when there are so many on offer.

In fact if – like me – you’re not actually much of a Tequila drinker, you can opt for the refreshing Tequila rose liqueur served on ice; it’s more like a strawberry Baileys than biting slammer .

However if you’re feeling particularly daring  like my companion,  you may want to try out the Tequila mescal – complete with worm if you so desire.

Poncho Villa Tequila - down in oneWatching someone face-off with the  larvae in their drink is rather entertaining.  In the end he opts to swallow it whole all in one go.

And while the worm doesn’t transport his mind to some far off place – it does give him bragging rights to eating a dirty hairy larvae.

Treat your taste buds

So shake off the humidity and revolutionise your taste buds with something extraordinary.  Worm optional.

And if you decide to celebrate a big day at Poncho’s you’ll be treated to a Mexican extravganza complete with sombreros – and the lucky birthday boy or girl gets to keep their hat.

Odelay!

-T

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Nankusa – not just another Saturday night on Sauchiehall

441 Sauciehall Street is a long way down from Queen Street Station – at least for my friend from Stirling.  And as we walk further into the unknown I can tell she’s getting a little worried.  Just where am I taking us anyhow?  And then we spot Nankusa  and all is right with the world.

We escape the gritty street to an oasis of sleek wood panel walls, beautiful surroundings and warm welcoming lighting.

A menu of unending choice

Nankusa Sushi, GlasgowThis Japanese restaurant has a menu to lose yourself in – noodles, soup, sushi and exotic specialities.  The staff are lovely and knowledgeable.   Admittedly even with all the choice I initially opt for very safe and similar sushi dishes – with a gentle smile the waiter suggests a more adventurous choice.  And I’m glad he does.

We order an assortment of starters and relax in our soothing surroundings – a million miles from the chaos of Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night.

Beautiful food – bursting with flavour

Every dish bursting with flavour at Nankusa, GlasgowThe beautifully presented food arrives and it tastes equally delicious.  The vegetarian spring rolls are crisp and dry; there’s no greasy aftertaste, the flawless endame beans are salty and moreish and the scrumptious fishcakes are quite frankly like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. But all of this is a mere wake up for our taste buds in anticipation for the main dishes.

I pop the perfectly sized Maki Mono Sushi into my mouth and I’m instantly treated to an explosion of flavour perfectly combining succulent fish, rice, seaweed and wasabi spice.  The more I eat the more intense the flavour, filling ever sense.  Simply exquisite.

My friend opts for the Ebi Chilli Noodles – which she claims is a clear winner.    Of course the only way to truly determine the champion dish is to return to sample more delectable delicacies – which is exactly what we promise to do. And at around £8 for a main dish and starters at £3.50, this won’t break the bank.

Detox never tasted so delicious

Nankusa is the name for the seven edible wild herbs of spring and ancient beliefs allege that they remove evil from the body and prevent illness.  I don’t know whether this is true, but with a stomach full of yummy food I’m ready to believe.

– B

Silent Sunday – 24 June

The Hidden Lanes Festival revealed…

It begin to clear and the stalls get busyHooray – it begins to clear! Time to enjoy the many stalls on show

Music at The Hidden Lanes Fest, Glasgow

One of many fantastic musical offerings

Bursting with colour - The Hidden Lanes, Glasgow

Exploring the colourful lanes

The Hidden Lane Tea Room, Glasgow

The Hidden Lanes Tea Room – a reason to come back

Babbity Bowster Brilliance

Away from  busy shops and the commotion, tucked in on Blackfriar’s Street,  is the wonderful and welcoming café/pub Babbity Bowsters.

Babbity Bowsters pub - fiddles on Saturday afternoon, GlasgowI often walk past this intriguing wee pub and have been particularly drawn in on Saturday afternoons when I could spot – through their large windows – a group of jovial violinist and fiddlers playing.  It looked like a fantastically good time.

Welcoming surroundings

And so when a friend from abroad was in town and we were looking for a social spot to catch up in without having to scream over blaring music, Babbity’s was the perfect place.

Here we could unwind in natural light pouring in through grand windows and comfortable surroundings.  With exception to Saturday afternoons the pub is a music-free zone.  Relaxed but far from boring, it’s refreshingly simple surroundings make you instantly feel at ease.

Still in the heart of the Merchant City, it offers hearty Scottish fair like haggis and cullen skink.  And if you’re looking something more formal, try their Franco-Scots restaurant Schottische upstairs where dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm.

Take shelter in this Merchant City gem

The rain has returned and so it’s only right that you take shelter inside.  And if that shelter happens to be a cosy dwelling with great food, excellent staff and a relaxed feel, then look no further than Babbity’s.  It’s the perfect place to lose track of time over a good book, chat effortlessly will friends and, on Saturday afternoon, enjoy a bit of local folk music.

Everything you need to be happy

If the sun does make a return, you can also enjoy your dinner, drinks and easily heard discussions in their lovely beer garden.  And if you’re an out-of-towner looking for a place to stay, they also have six en-suite bedrooms.

Really everything you could possibly need at your fingertips.  So why not give it a go.

– T

The Scottish Play

I’m over an hour early.  Why?  Because I have a date with Alan Cummings – but I’m not the only one.

Alan Cummings is MacbethHis daring one-man performance of Macbeth at the Tramway is one of the hottest tickets in town and as I join the growing queue I feel my early arrival is justified.  It’s unreserved seating and I’m determined to get a good spot for an optimum view.

Inside the place is already buzzing – but we manage to nab the last table in the café bar  and settle in for a bit of food before the show.  While I’m enjoying my haggis, neeps and tatties the small queue I’d left behind transforms into  a writhing snake winding its way round the tables – even though there’s over 40 minutes till the show.

On you mark, get set, go – to the good seats

The doors to the auditorium open a few minutes later and the murmur around the crowd spreads, ‘it’s already full downstairs’.  That’s all I need to hear to send me bolting up the stairs with my friend in tow to nab the best of the balcony seats – middle, a few rows back.

Mental and mindblowing

Set in a mental institution the set’s eerie and bleak and uses every last inch of the vast space. And you can’t help but drink in every detail as the tension stirs of an eagerly awaiting audience.

Don’t worry – no spoiler alert needed for any of you lucky people who have managed to get tickets to see the remaining shows.   But you are definitely in for a treat – an amazing performance that will take you on a tense, absorbing, moving journey.  And the standing ovation for Alan Cummings is well-deserved.

Tickets are now down to returns but the Tramway is keeping people updated via their blog – keep an eye out, it’s worth the £20 ticket.  The play runs until Saturday 30 June and then jets off to New York but the Tramway remains with exhibitions, performances and a Hidden Garden.

Missed Macbeth? Tramway still worth a visit

Tramway Theatre, GlasgowThe Tramway started its life in 1893 as the Coplawhill tram shed and now houses art exhibitions and performances inside its exposed brick walls and ceilings as high as a circus top.

Even if you don’t get to see Alan, it’s still worth checking out their diverse programme of events and visiting this fantastic space.

–  B

Silent Sunday – 17 June

Could this be you…

Glasgow’s got festivals galore!

The festival calendar for June in Glasgow is heaving.  And whatever you fancy, there’s something for all tastes.

West end wonder 

west-end-festival, Glasgow 2012The West End Festival takes over most of the month (1 – 24 June) with more than 500 events spanning music, comedy, theatre, dance, street parties and even an opportunity to connect with your inner artiste at their fiddle (ukulele, accordion, guitar or accordion) workshop.  We like variety!

Bring your beard

Part of the WEF – but taking on a life of its own, the Chamber Music Project  at Cottiers runs from the 1-22 June.  And even if you’re not a classical music fan, with nearly 30 different concerts  and the potential of free entry for those who can muster a Beard Like Brahms , it’s worth a go.

Celebrate diversity and Glaswegian generosity

King Creosote kicks off Refugee Week's fest in GlasgowRefugee Week Scotland’s  week-long arts and cultural celebrations kicks off next week 18 -24 June.  With over 100 events, many of them free – it’s a great way to support their work helping some of our city’s most vulnerable rebuild new lives in Scotland.

And Mercury Nominated King Creosote is lending his musical genius to their opening gig on the 18 June at the Old Fruitmarket – not to be missed.

All revealed at this one-day celebration 

As the name suggest, The Hidden Lane’s all-day extravaganza  is down a cobbled lane off Argyle Street, though is less and less hidden as it grows in popularity. And just what’s in store on Saturday 23?  A mish-mash of music, creativy, fashion, food, market stalls and the promise of a jazz lounge – new this year.  What’s not to love?

Music not your thing?

If you’re looking for something a little more theoretical rather than theatrical, catch the final days of the Science Festival ending on Sunday. Promising to ‘hand you the keys to the cosmos’, its plethora of events, talks, shows and demos offer a fun way to connect with your inner geek and appease curiosities.  As for any  reluctant Sci-fest goers – there’s even astronomy for beginners.

So get out there and enjoy the best of the fests in this great city.  And watch out for July –  Merchant City Festival is already at the top of our list.

– T