Merchant City Festival 2017: What to Check Out

Summertime in Glasgow means a few things are for certain: there’s less chance of you getting soaked as you go about your day (oh, sunshine – how I’ve missed you!), the ice cream van in Kelvingrove Park will do a roaring trade (because any price is reasonable when you’re spending your day basking in the sun, loving life…)  and, finally, Glasgow’s festival season kicks off!

Yup, Glasgow LOVES a summer shindig and, hot off the heels of recent TRNSMT and Mela festivals, we now have Merchant City Festival launching on 22nd July.

This nine-day celebration of arts and culture is jam-packed with events and activities. We’re spoiled for choice with music, comedy, exhibitions, street food, club nights, performances and much more – so deciding what to check out over the festival period is tough! 

I’ve got my eye on a few things and I thought I would share my Merchant City Festival 2017 picks – just in case you need help making your mind up, or if you’re new to the festival altogether and don’t know where to start!

Red Bus Bistro

Hanging out in a 1966 Routemaster bus has vintage style written all over it but throw a tasty afternoon tea into the mix and it’s EVEN MORE appealing! The Red Bus Bistro will be stationed in Wilson Street on the 22nd and 23rd of July serving teatime treats by day and cocktails n’ deli platters by night.


Part gig, part karaoke and 100% party, Massaoke’s events have been sweeping the nation and, for one night only (29th July at the Old Fruitmarket), it’s coming to Glasgow as part of Merchant City Festival. What’s Massaoke? I’m so glad you asked! A live band plays everyone’s favourite hits while the lyrics are displayed on huge screens, inviting the crowd to belt out the words together. It’s so crazy it just might work. I’ve got my ticket – see you there?

Punk Archaeology

Anyone walking around the city can see the spirit of 1970s punk well and truly lives on in Glasgow today and this one-off event delves a little deeper into punk history and culture. With a panel of guest speakers exploring punk in Scotland (and Glasgow in particular of course!), the evening will then be concluded with a special screening of Derek Jarman’s 1978 cult movie, Jubilee. Get in touch with your punk roots on 26th July at City Halls.

Merchant City Photography Tour: Glasgow Doors Open Day with Dreghorn Photography School 

The eagle-eyed (and very loyal!) amongst you may remember I had a class with Dreghorn Photography School a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I’d recommend learning some tips from these guys whether you’re a beginner or seasoned snapper! They’re running two free classes (places booked via Eventbrite) on the 23rd and 29th, and will be giving their attendees exclusive access to some of the areas beautiful buildings to nail that perfect shot.

Big Feed on Tour

If you love mouthwatering street food and a friendly atmosphere, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of Big Feed’s regular indoor markets which have foodies all over town swooning. Showcasing the very best of Glasgow’s indie food vendors, their events are already becoming pretty legendary so, when I heard they were going ‘on tour’ to Merchant City, I popped their dates in my diary. Catch them on Brunswick Street on the 28th, 29th and 30th of this month.

Phew! Can you believe that I’m only scratching the surface here? You can find out more about these events, plus the ENTIRE Merchant City Festival 2017 programme, here!

Will you be visiting the festival this year? And what are some of your favourite things about Glasgow in summer?

The Glasgow Veggie Diaries: The Spanish Butcher

New to The Glasgow Veggie Diaries? This series is where you’ll find me sharing the most awesome meat-free food options around town, so whether you or a member of your posse are vegetarian, feel free to use this as your official guide to who is doing it right!

You can also catch up with all of my previous Glasgow Veggie Diaries entries here

I know what you might be thinking (and I don’t blame you!). Why visit a place called The Spanish Butcher if you don’t eat meat? The Spanish BUTCHER. Isn’t the hint in the name? The choices in vegetarian dishes are hardly going to be spectacular… are they?

But here’s why I couldn’t wait to visit The Spanish Butcher recently: firstly, the restaurant is the latest venture from the award-winning team behind some of Glasgow’s best-loved eateries, Hutchesons and The Butchershop. This filled me with a sense of confidence that I would have a good time, no matter what. I’ve enjoyed enough meals at these restaurants to expect fresh ingredients and attention to detail, so I was looking forward to seeing what would be on the menu.

The Restaurant

You can find The Spanish Butcher tucked away on Miller Street in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Walk through the door, pull back the Black Lodge-esque thick curtains and the modern, chic, softly-lit interior will reveal itself. The bar and dining areas have more than a hint of NYC about them and the relaxed atmosphere makes it all too easy to stay a while and have a drink, a light bite or a slap-up meal.

First things first (AKA the starters)

The pre-theatre menu, our waiter explained, is revised regularly to keep things fresh and seasonal. So today I’ll be sharing details of what I had to eat during my visit – just bear in mind that the menu might have changed by the time you read this!

To start, I had the gazpacho which, on the set menu, was the only vegetarian option. That being said, of the three starters to choose from, there was one meat-based dish, one seafood option (mussels, which my gal pal Casci opted for – pictured above) plus the gazpacho. If you ask me, that’s a pretty even spread, right? And I REALLY enjoyed the gazpacho, which was tangy and refreshing – I actually agreed that serving it warm would have spoiled it (as someone that has a whole Pinterest board dedicated to hearty, warming soup recipes – and let’s not dwell on how nerdy THAT just sounded – I was surprised by my enthusiastic reaction. Cold soup? Who even am I anymore?!).

The main event

Again, there was a fair spread of dishes on the menu – with something for most tastes. The veggie option here was the cauliflower ‘steak’, which I was intrigued by! When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the smell – rich and flavoursome. This was down to the roasted medditeranean vegetables that accompanied the dish, and their juices were almost marinating the flat-iron ‘steak’ in front of me.

What impressed me most about this main was that it wasn’t an afterthought – it would have been really easy to put a mushroom risotto on the menu and call it a day. But this felt equal to the other dishes, and, most importantly, it tasted amazing.

Just desserts

There was no chocolate on the dessert menu (scandalous!) but after two tasty courses, I was grateful for something a bit lighter! I opted for the lemon yoghurt mousse, which was served with crushed pistachio and shortbread. Sweet and tart, it was a lovely end to the meal. No-one likes feeling like they need to stop for a food-fatigue break on the walk home from the restaurant (and believe me, I know what I’m talking about – those city centre benches come in handy sometimes!), and I ate every spoonful of my mousse without feeling ready to pop afterwards!

Final thoughts

Yes, The Spanish Butcher specialises in showcasing quality meat sourced from Spain. Yes, it does aim to present these ingredients in a creative way that will delight foodies and leave them wanting more. But they do all of these things without leaving the vegetarians in the party high and dry – far from it. The same consideration and flair has been applied to the meat-free dishes on the menu, making the dining experience memorable for everyone. And surely, that’s what it’s all about?

Have you visited The Spanish Butcher yet? And I’m curious: what’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever pinned on Pinterest?


5 To Die For Desserts at Sapporo Teppanyaki

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

I’m the kind of person who goes to a restaurant and plans the entire meal around dessert. It’s the first part of the menu I will check and I’ll even skip a starter or enjoy a really light main course so that I have plenty of room to indulge my sweet tooth later!

So, when a restaurant introduces a new dessert menu, you better believe that I’ll sit up and pay attention. Merchant City’s Sapporo Teppanyaki recently gave their range of puddings an overhaul and, with eight new dishes to choose from, I felt it was my DUTY to take them all for a spin and report back.

After coming down from that sugar high, I’ve hand-picked my top five desserts at Sapporo Teppanyaki to celebrate their new sweet treats. So read on and prepare yourself for some major #foodporn (you have been warned!)…

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

1. The Twist on a Classic: Coconut & Mango Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is not something you’d usually expect to see on a contemporary menu but, trust me, there’s not a whiff of school dinner about this take on the traditional dessert! Instead of the usual creamy consistency, this pudding is made with sticky asian rice and flavoured with fresh mango and coconut (though I could taste more of the mango to be honest!). It was served warm in a little Kilner jar, making it as adorable as it was tasty!

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

2.  The Chocolate Lover’s Dream: Chocolate Lava Cake

If a dessert menu doesn’t have at least one chocolate option, can it really be considered a dessert menu (I mean even THE THOUGHT!)? The range of desserts at Sapporo Teppanyaki did not disappoint, with more than one chocolate-based choice of awesomeness to make every cocoa-nut happy. I tried the chocolate lava cake, which at the time demanded copious use of the exploding volcano emoji! The rich, dense sponge was super moist, and it went well with the crushed biscuit and home-made ice cream on the side. Yum!

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

3. The Creamy Concoction: Eton Mess

Ah, Eton Mess! So simple, yet so effective! This dish didn’t skimp on portion size, yet didn’t feel too heavy after I’d demolished it. It was served tall with plenty of strawberries and blackberries. My only request would be for more meringue to balance out the amount of fruit and cream (but then, I just generally want more meringue in my life…)

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

4. The Dark Horse: Exotic Fruit Platter

I know what you might be thinking: isn’t a fruit platter usually a sad cop-out?  Well, not at Sapporo Teppanyaki my friend! Here’s the thing I haven’t mentioned yet, every dessert you order at this restaurant will come with a little fruit on the side. And I don’t mean tired, scooped out of a can-type fruit – this fruit is much more than a decorative afterthought. Which is why the exotic fruit platter is genuinely worth ordering, as the seasonal fruit from around the world is fresh, light and juicy. I enjoyed some melon, strawberry, kiwi, blackberries, pineapple and blueberries and (bonus!) the presentation was really pretty!

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

5. The Wild Card: Chocolate Spring Rolls

Just when I thought I’d had my fill of chocolate, these spring rolls came along like a little game changer and became my firm favourite! The tubes of crispy, light pastry are filled with warm, melted chocolate and come in milk and white chocolate options. I love it when food is experimental, and a sweet take on a spring roll sounds a bit off the wall but, trust me, it works. I’d visit Sapporo Teppanyaki again for this pudding alone!

desserts at sapporo teppanyaki

It’s pretty safe to say that this restaurant is knocking it out of the park with their new dessert menu. It’s worth saving room for (at least!) one of these bad boys on your next visit.

Will you be trying the desserts at Sapporo Teppanyaki? Do you ever look at the pudding section of the menu first (or is it just me)?