Smiggle Opening In Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries Aug 15 2017

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Australia’s most exciting and colourful stationery retailer, Smiggle is opening a new store in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries tomorrow morning from 9am. I was invited to bring the Little Squirrels along to see the new store tomorrow, but unfortunately we can’t make the big launch due to other commitments, so they very kindly sent us a goodie bag in the post.

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Little Squirrel was very excited to open her goodie bag last night. Inside she got a beautiful handbag pencil case, which has two zipped compartments and a scented pom pom. She also got a pack of 12 scented markers in a colourful pencil case and a lockable notebook adorned with sparkling butterflies.

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She is over the moon with her goodies and is off to nursery this morning to show off her goodies.

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Smiggle is most definitely bold and bright and packed full of treasures for little ones (and stationery-loving adults alike) to explore. From multi-coloured backpacks, eye-catching pencil cases, sparkly stationery, gift packs, DIY kits and much more, there is a huge range to feast your eyes on. We will most definitely be paying a visit to the new Buchanan Galleries store soon!

#BUENOSHEROES – Win A Trip To Buenos Aires With CAU Restaurants

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Last week I was invited along to CAU Glasgow to try out their menu and to learn more about their summer-long campaign, #BUENOSHEROES, which offers diners the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Buenos Aires.

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Fingers crossed for the Win!

The #BUENOSHEROES competition runs until August 31 2017. In order to enter into the grand prize draw to win a return trip for two to Buenos Aires you must order at least one HERO dish from the menu when dining at CAU restaurants, take a photo, upload to CAU Instagram and you could be on your way to Buenos Aires!

CAU HERO dishes celebrate the heart, soul and spirit of Buenos Aires all with a unique twist – CAU

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CAU Glasgow

This was my first trip to CAU Glasgow and I really loved the bright, fresh, modern interiors of the restaurant, which is situated in the heart of Glasgow City Centre on Ingram Street, within a stone’s throw of the Glasgow Gallery Of Modern Art.

Buenos Aires cuisine is a melting pot of delicious comfort food inspired by Italy, Spain and Argentina. From the mouth-watering steaks, burgers and sandwiches, to the tempting selection of sides and moreish favourites, each dish is served up with its own distinctive Argentinian twist – CAU

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Perusing the menu at CAU Glasgow

For starter I opted for Empanadas and chose the spicy beef and the Spanish Chorizo & cream cheese fillings. I really loved the Empanadas, which are a classic Argentinan filled pastry. On first glance the pastry looks like it could be heavy, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the pastry was beautifully light and both fillings were packed full of flavour. This is most definitely a dish I would order again. My dining companion for the evening, Alex, ordered the Shrimp Chicharron…

The prawns were nice, very tender, and the fresh coriander and chilli complemented them perfectly. The evaporated milk sauce didn’t really add anything to the dish though – Alex

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Left – Empanadas
Right – Shrimp Chicharron

For main course, I ordered the Classic CAU Chicken Burger and Alex ordered the Ultimate Steak Sandwich. The Chicken Burger came with lettuce and tomato, and I ordered onion rings and cheese to beef it up! The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and the onion rings were perfect. As for the steak sandwich, here’s what Alex said…

The steak sandwich was exceptional, the rump steak melted in the mouth and the salt beef was delicious as was the brisket, the crispy onions were perfect with it too. I’d say it was the standout dish! – Alex

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Left – enjoying the CAU Classic Chicken Burger
Middle – CAU Classic Chicken Burger
Right – Alex enjoying the Ultimate Steak Sandwich

As for dessert, I ordered Crème Catalana and Alex ordered a Dulce Volcano. We were both excited by the prospects of our desserts, as a good Crème Catalana or a molten dulce de leche cake is hard to beat. However, we were both disappointed with the desserts. My Crème Catalana was almost soup-like in consistency, really unpleasant and just not what I was expecting. Sadly the Dulce Volcano just didn’t quite live up to its reputation also, with the sponge hard and chewy and the molten middle just tasted like raw and uncooked cake batter, and not the rich and creamy toffee that we were expecting. We passed on our comments to our server who was very polite, and agreed that the Crème Catalana did not look quite right, and passed on our comments to her Manager.

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Left – Crème Catalana
Right – Dulce Volcano

We both really enjoyed our HERO dishes from the menu, with the exception of the desserts. The Manager didn’t come to speak to us to explain if this was out of the ordinary, or offer any explanation, so I can only hope that the desserts were not up to their usual standard.

The #BUENOSHEROES campaign is a fun opportunity to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous prize trip to Buenos Aires, so why not visit CAU for yourself, order a HERO dish, and don’t forget to post your picture on Instagram with the hashtag #BUENOSHEROES

I was offered a 3 course meal at CAU Glasgow for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

Monty’s Bar & Restaurant, Glasgow – A Review

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Last week I was invited along to Monty’s Bar & Restaurant on Radnor Street in Glasgow’s West End to sample their menu.

Monty’s is one of Finniseton’s newest openings. It is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. With a big focus on locally sourced products, the menu is Scottish-led, with some exotic additions! For the West End’s many dog-lovers, Monty’s restaurant is dog friendly til 6pm, and the bar welcomes dogs, and their owners, during all opening hours.

Housed on the site of what used to be Montgomery’s Cafe, the premises have been completely refurbished, with the addition of a mezzanine area (which seats up to 30 guests and is available for private hire).  The newly refurbished interiors are warm and welcoming.

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Interiors at Monty’s Glasgow

On arrival, Sonia (my guest for the evening) and I chose some cocktails from the drinks menu. I was driving, so opted for a virgin option of the Cool Monty – a fresh and fruity long cocktail with raspberry and kiwi, and Sonia went for the Island Rose – The Botanist gin shaken with rose liqueur, fresh raspberries and citrus.

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Beautiful Cocktails from Monty’s Glasgow

The evening menu offers a great variety of incredible sounding dishes to choose from. For starter I opted for black pudding with beetroot, pink peppercorn crumble and beetroot syrup and Sonia chose the pan fried mackerel with heirloom tomato salad and piquant dressing.

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Left – black pudding, beetroot, pink peppercorn crumble, beetroot syrup
Right – pan fried mackerel, heirloom tomato salad, piquant dressing

For me, the starters were beautifully presented, and just the right portion size. I particularly loved the velvety smooth texture of the black pudding, against the crunchy apple strips and delicious little bulbs of beetroot. This was a deliciously light start to our meal at Monty’s. Sadly, I don’t eat fish, so couldn’t sample Sonia’s starter, so I asked her for some words on her mackerel dish…

The mackerel was beautifully cooked, with tasty crisp skin and nicely complimented by the warm heritage tomato salad which was in a lovely slightly mustard-y dressing. Perfect size for a starter – I’d definitely order it again. – Sonia

For main course, I opted for slow roasted pork belly, roast fennel, pomme purée and calvados apples, and Sonia went for the Monty’s beef burger, with Barwheys cheddar rarebit, Ayrshire smoked bacon, onion ring, hand cut chips and bone marrow jus.

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Left – slow roasted pork belly, roast fennel, pomme purée and calvados apples
Right – Monty’s beef burger, Barwheys cheddar rarebit, Ayrshire smoked bacon, onion ring, hand cut chips, bone marrow jus

The slow roasted pork belly was cooked to perfection. It melted in the mouth with incredibly deep flavour, complemented perfectly by the beautifully smooth and creamy pomme purée, and the light aniseed of the fennel against the crunchy apple strips and the delicious calvados apples. This is a gorgeous dish for pork-lovers!
As for the Monty’s beef burger, this really was a special burger. Aside from top quality beef and Ayrshire bacon, the addition of the Barwhey’s cheddar rarebit really lifted this burger to another level. I have to make a special mention for the little jug of bone marrow jus that you can see in the picture above… liquid gold! Quite honestly the most perfect little jug of jus you ever did have the pleasure to taste. Dipping the perfectly cooked hand cut chips in to the bone marrow jus brought the hugest of smiles to both our faces – a very indulgent chips and gravy!

To round off our meal we had the difficult task of choosing from the dessert menu. For me, I was instantly drawn to the Black Forest ganache, macerated cherries, Chantilly cream and chocolate soil. Meanwhile Sonia chose the cranachan crème chiboust, raspberries and raspberry sorbet.

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Left – Black Forest ganache, macerated cherries, Chantilly cream, chocolate soil
Right – cranachan crème chiboust, raspberries, raspberry sorbet

This Black Forest ganache with macerated cherries must be one of my favourite desserts I have had. The ganache was deep and rich, yet not too heavy, and the intensely fruity macerated cherries worked perfectly against this little slice of chocolate heaven! The cranachan crème chiboust was a lighter dessert, yet still packed full of flavours and textures. The crunchy, caramelised clusters of oats lifted the mousse-like creamy smooth crème chiboust, and the raspberry sorbet was packed full of tangy sweet raspberry flavour.

I hope you can tell how much we enjoyed our meal at Monty’s. I couldn’t fault a single thing from our evening here. The service was friendly and relaxed, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the food was incredible, and completely exceeded my expectations.
I hope to return very soon, and I am sure the Little Squirrels would love to try out the kids menu while Mr Hungry Squirrel and I sample the Weekender Brunch!

Huge Thankyou to Ross from Monty’s for looking after us on our visit. Keep up the good work! We wish you and the rest of the team at Monty’s the greatest success – you deserve it!

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Cheers!

I was offered a 3 course meal at Monty’s Glasgow for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

Monty’s Bar & Restaurant Promo from Kris Kesiak on Vimeo.

The Italian Kitchen Glasgow

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Last week I was invited, along with four other bloggers, to try out the new menu at The Italian Kitchen in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

The restaurant has been part of Merchant City’s landscape for over ten years now but has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. The interiors are welcoming and inviting with warm lighting, and the menu is extensive, with something to suit everyone.  All food served in The Italian Kitchen is freshly made daily, using quality ingredients, and this really reflects in the dishes I tried.

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Image courtesy of www.italian-kitchen.co.uk

We were served an amazing array of breads, including freshly baked bread with oils & olives, and three different foccacias with rosemary & garlic, chilli & garlic, and with cherry tomatoes, basil & garlic.

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An array of Italian breads

I love a foccacia bread, and the highlight of this selection for me was most definitely the Foccacia Al Pomodoro with the freshest, sweetest little cherry tomatoes.

For starter I ordered the Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte.

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Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte

This was a stunning starter, with delicious garlicky Portobello mushrooms dripping in melted dolcelatte and crunchy pine nuts. The flavours were beautiful, and the contrasting textures worked perfectly to make this  a 5 star dish!

For main course I ordered the Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardon E Crema – a hollow spaghetti with pancetta, spicy sardo sausage, and onions, in a creamy tomato sauce.

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Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardo E Crema

I had never tried Bucatini before, but really loved this as an interesting alternative to spaghetti. The sauce was well seasoned and not too creamy, the Sardo sausage was deliciously herby, and the crispy pancetta on top really finished this dish perfectly.

After a healthy serving of bread, and a generous starter and main course, I questioned if I would have room for dessert, however I find it hard to pass on Tiramisu, so I didn’t…

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Tiramisu

The Tiramisu was beautifully presented and did not disappoint. Beautifully light and fluffy mascarpone mousse, complemented by chocolate and light sponge soaked in coffee – this was a winning combination of flavours executed really well.

As well as being served a delicious meal we were also given a demonstration of how to make our own ravioli by chef Raphael. I have to say he made it look incredibly easy, but until I get myself a pasta maker and get to grips with it, I will most definitely be returning to The Italian Kitchen for their fresh ravioli… We were given some to take home with us, which I thoroughly enjoyed the following evening after a late shift at work. The spinach and ricotta filling was light and herby, and the pasta was perfect!

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Chef Raphael demonstrating  how to make the perfect ravioli

Thankyou to Marco and his team for entertaining us and serving us a delicious meal. I look forward to my next visit very soon…
If you find yourself in Glasgow’s Merchant City and are looking for somewhere inviting to eat a fresh, tasty Italian meal then please check out The Italian Kitchen and let me know what you think…

Indian Tapas Meets Craft Beer At Crossing The Rubicon, Glasgow

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Crossing The Rubicon opened on Glasgow’s Great Western Road at the end of 2016, and in my mind is the most exciting addition to the West End’s dining scene in some time. It is from the same family as Drygate Brewing Co, so if you love craft beer and exciting beers from around the world this place is definitely worth a visit.
As for the food they specialise in curries, serving small plates, and they have a really impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from.

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a bloggers evening at Crossing The Rubicon where we were treated to a fabulous showcase of some of the restaurant’s popular dishes… #bloggingtherubicon

I left this event with the biggest of smiles on my face following a feast of beautiful, delicious, fresh, and flavour-packed dishes. I thought I would share with you here some of my favourite dishes from the evening…

To begin, we munched and crunched through some poppadoms and pickles. There was a delicious little pickle of shredded apple with chilli and lime that was bursting with contrasting flavours and textures, and was the perfect accompaniment to the poppadoms.

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Poppadoms & Pickles

Next up we had a selection of vegetarian pakora and some black pudding and crispy chicken pakora. The crispy chicken pakora was the star of this show – delicious velvety chicken encased in a crispy coating of batter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Black Pudding Pakora & Crispy Chicken Pakora

We were then served some hot buttered chapati with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Chana Chat was a beautiful cold salad of chickpeas with lemon and herbs, bursting with fresh and zingy flavours.

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Hot Buttered Chapati & Chana Chat

The Dhal Makani was a rich and buttery lentil dish which was warm and comforting, like a hug in a bowl (am currently Googling Dhal Makani recipes for tonight’s dinner alongside writing this post!). I neglected to get a good photo of this dish, so just get down there and order yourself a pot!

I really loved the Crispy Tofu Mutter. The light crispy tofu was perfectly complimented by a deep, rich, pea and cumin curry.

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Crispy Tofu Mutter

This Roast Carrot and Sweet Potato Korma was perhaps my favourite dish of the night! Rich, sweet and creamy – what’s not to love?! But really… korma has the potential to be sickly sweet, yet this dish is executed perfectly and was a firm favourite amongst my fellow food-loving bloggers!

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Roast Carrot & Sweet Potato Korma

From the meat dishes on the menu we tried the Tandoori Butter Chicken and a Venison Madras. The Tandoori Butter Chicken was perfection… the tomato and butter masala was full of flavour, rich and buttery, and most definitely worth a return visit.

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Tandoori Butter Chicken

Just when we though we couldn’t fit any more food in to our very well looked after tummies, a Vegan Chocolate Pot arrived at the table. As I plunged my spoon in to this little pot of chocolate I thought this is going to be too dense, too rich, too much… oh how I was wrong! Yes, it was dense in texture, however it melted on the tongue with heavenly bursts of orange and subtle little explosions of chilli. This was the perfect ending to a night full of flavour-packed dishes.

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Vegan Chocolate Pot

I thoroughly enjoyed this huge selection of dishes we were lucky enough to try, and I have already picked out some dishes from the menu that I will be returning to try, such as the Ox Cheek Bhuna and the Lamb Achari Saag. I should also mention how impressed I was with the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu. This is the perfect spot to take your vegetarian and vegan friends to.

I really hope that you pay Crossing The Rubicon a visit if you are local to Glasgow. The food was packed full of flavour, the staff were lovely, and the beer selection was huge!

Huge Thanks to Crossing The Rubicon for inviting us along to try your dishes. You’re a lovely, talented bunch, and I wish you all the success! See you soon…

 

Celebrate Burns Night With The Calvin Haggis Burger At Byron Burgers

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Byron is getting into the spirit of Burn’s Night in true Byron style – with a delicious burger special, available exclusively across all Scottish Byron restaurants from Monday January 23 to Sunday January 29 2017.
The Calvin Haggis features a 6oz hamburger patty, haggis, bacon and onion relish, a classic tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and blanched white onions, all finished off with a dollop of Byron sauce and sandwiched between a soft glazed bun.

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The Calvin Haggis Burger – wow!!!!!

Last weekend I was invited along to Glasgow Byron, on West George Street, to sample the mighty Calvin Haggis burger…

This is definitely not a burger for the faint of heart (or for those with small appetites)!
I was a little concerned that the haggis may be a little overpowering, however it works really well alongside all the other components of this amazing burger. The contrast of the crispy bacon against the soft egg and smooth haggis, meaty beef patty, and soft tattie scone make this a really exciting combination of flavours and textures.

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Hungry Squirrel enjoying the Calvin Haggis Burger

I am a little sad that this burger is only available for one week, and am hoping that it will prove popular and maybe, just maybe, they might keep it as a permanent fixture in the Scottish branches of Byron?

If the Calvin Haggis doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other tasty dishes to choose from at Byron, and a great selection of sides and starters to tantalise your taste buds. We were very spoiled during our visit to Byron, and alongside the Calvin Haggis burger we feasted on nachos, the Cluckosaurus Rex burger (fried chicken breast, streaky bacon, onion ring, cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise), bacon cheese fries, courgette fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayonnaise, and coleslaw. Phew!

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Top left – nachos
Top right – Cluckosaurus Rex
Bottom left – courgette fries, bacon cheese fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayo
Bottom right – coleslaw

Of all the sides we ordered I most enjoyed the coleslaw. It was crunchy and light, and really fresh, and the perfect accompaniment for the meaty burgers.

The star of the show without doubt was the Calvin Haggis burger. Huge Congrats to Hayley of Glasgow Byron for coming up with this innovative burger  – a perfect burger to celebrate Scotland and Burns Night.

If you fancy wrapping your jaws around this Braveheart of burgers then make sure to pay a visit to your nearest Scottish branch (Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen) of Byron this week (January 23 – January 29).

Chompsky – Glasgow’s First Permanent Street Food Truck On Kelvin Way

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Chompsky – Glasgow based street food company making delicious munchies from around the world.

Chompsky was set up by chef Felicity Day, and friends Andrew and Tom, in January 2015. The business was born out of a love for informal and accessible international food, and a desire to bring something new to Glasgow. They started hosting exclusive pop up events in bars around Glasgow with different dishes from around the world each time. In September 2015 they bought the food truck and used it for street food markets, festivals and private events, while they waited for their permanent pitch licence from the council for Glasgow’s Kelvin Way.
Before hitting the streets of Glasgow with her culinary skills, Felicity spent 7 years working in some of the finest restaurants, such as Glasgow’s Ox & Finch, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
Her experience, skill, love of tasty food, and attention to detail most definitely shine through in the dishes that Chompsky serve.

Chompsky first came into my attention about 18 months ago on social media. I would see teasingly delicious looking dishes on my friends’ Instagram and Twitter feeds. I finally got a chance to try their famous steamed bao buns in August when Chompsky took up a residency in Taste Buchanan (Buchanan Galleries’ street food hub). One bite of this soft and fluffy bao bun, filled with fried crispy chicken, homemade kimchi and spring onion and I was hooked! Oh, and the sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo – food heaven!

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Left – Chompsky at Taste Buchanan
Right – Korean fried crispy chicken bao with kimchi and spring onion & sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo

This weekend (Sept 30 – Oct 01 2016) Chompsky opened their food truck for business on Kelvin Way in Glasgow’s West End for the first time. The Hungry Squirrels and I made the most of the sunny Sunday we had, and picked up some lunch to go from the Chompsky food truck, for lunch al fresco in Kelvingrove Park.

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Hungry Squirrels excited to visit the Chompsky food truck on Kelvin Way

I went for the chicken pho, which was delicious. A bowl packed full of flavours and textures in the most delicious broth! Mr Hungry Squirrel is vegetarian, so went for the black lentil dahl. This was an excellent vegetarian option, again packed full of flavour, with coconut shavings and crispy shallots adding another dimension to the dahl with contrasting textures. Both dishes really delivered on flavour, and at £5 for the pho and £3 for the dahl gave incredible value for money.

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Left – Pho Ga (chicken pho)
Right – Black Lentil Dahl

The Chompsky food truck will be serving up the tastiest street food in Glasgow (in my opinion) every Thursday and Friday from 9am to 6pm over the coming months at Kelvin Way, with plans to extend opening hours in Spring 2017. If you love your street food as much as I do, go pay them a visit, and don’t forget you can also get your Chompsky fix at Taste Buchanan in Buchanan Galleries.

Also, give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for regular updates on their adventures in street food.