Today we celebrated Charlotte’s birthday.
None of us are real ‘birthday’ people. We’re happier drinking tea over tequila; relaxing in a café as opposed to a club; tucking into a cake rather than a kebab. So, to commemorate Charlotte’s ageing in the nicest way, Zoe came up with the cake crawl.
Now according to the wonders of the internet, we’re not the first to explore a city’s finest cafés in a manner reminiscent of the pub crawl. However, as my Google search only returns London exploits, I’m going to introduce you to a rather Glaswegian journey.
Our napkin-noted plan included eateries in the West End and in the city centre (only comprising four establishments, as more could have induced sugar nausea). Our final stop was Cup for cocktails. But let’s rewind first.
1. DELIZIQUE / CAFEZIQUE
70-72 Hyndland Street, Partick
One half deli, other snappy restaurant, Delizique offers two seating areas. We plumped for the left hand entrance, moving past oatcakes, sauces and tray bakes to a large table underneath a skeletal tree centrepiece. The walls featured city-inspired etched panoramas; welcome winter sunshine lit the tables. Our first cake from the ample selection was a New York cheesecake, thin based and velvet vanilla. The huge loaves of bread looked tempting too. It’s on my list for a return visit (very tempting sausage rolls and pasta combos).
2. COTTONRAKE BAKERY
Great Western Road, West End
Opening its doors just last year, this corner café has been on our lunch hitlist for some time. Minimal in seating (like many good bakeries), expect to perch on a stool overlooking the bustling artery of Great Western Road, an entertaining vista. Apparently the food changes all the time, but today we had a selection of pastries, tarts and scones, reminding me of Normandy boulangeries. After much deliberating between pear pie, white chocolate tart and crisp cookies, we finally settled on a treacle tartlet which we split into thirds. Topped with pecans, the pastry was crumbly and the filling sweet. Nuts were a good textural addition and, as I’d never tried a treacle tart before, I was rather won over by the toffee-esque taste.
3. SARAMAGO CAFÉ AT CCA
Sauchiehall Street, City Centre
Ah, the CCA. Zoe introduced me to the wonders of this vegan paradise some weeks ago, after solemnly asserting that the chocolate cake was ‘the best in the world’. I’d tried it for myself, but Charlotte was none the wiser. Saramago was thus scribbled on the napkin. After the longer stroll from the West End to the city centre, we were sticky and swollen from the pavement’s heat, anticipating the hyped-up dessert. I’m sad to say though, it didn’t quite match up to my fond memories. Where the cake’s outer crust was usually thin and chewy, today it was chunky and stout. Zoe almost flipped it off the plate in her attempts to slice a morsel. Previously, the portion had been served warm with vanilla ice cream, enhancing the rich chocolatey middle. Today, the plate and the cake were cold. Okay, rich chocolate still swam on our taste buds, but Zoe and I couldn’t help commenting that it wasn’t quite as good as we’d predicted.
4. RIVERHILL COFFEE BAR
Gordon Street, City Centre
I’m a huge advocate of the Riverhill – and not just in Glasgow. I have relatives near their larger deli in Helensburgh, which is piled high with cakes and scones, and serves the most fantastic poached eggs on homemade sourdough. Plus, this year, they’re opening the Riverhill Courtyard in Helensburgh, which promises more West End inspired cuisine in a little corner of the coast. I can’t wait.
The empire biscuits are forever a selling point – the size of your palm, painted with icing and stacked with silky buttercream, it’s nigh impossible to consume one alone (especially after three cakes prior to that…) For our final cake stop, we selected something fruity to counteract the decadence of the CCA’s chocolate sponge: blackcurrant and coconut bakewell. A stripe of jam running along the bottom with the coconut flakes golden on top, it wasn’t the most sugary thing we’d had all day, but for those that are weaning themselves off a saccharine addiction, it’s a good place to start.
5. CUP TEA LOUNGE
Renfield Street, Glasgow
Thank God we didn’t have cakes in Cup. (I never thought I’d say that). By this point, we were fatigued with sugar, close to sleep at Saramago and slumping in chairs over Cup cocktails. Our successful cake crawl culminated in some alcohol (or, if you’re me, the pineapple non-alcoholic alternative). I’ve been to Cup before (both centre and West End) and although the cakes look pretty, I’m not particularly convinced about their originality or decoration; in fact, I prefer the tea. Cup have a huge selection of white, black and flavoured teas, all of which you can buy to sip in the comfort of your own living room whilst sweating over the next university assignment. Every little helps…
After six hours of walking and munching (that wasn’t a typo – six hours!) we returned to the West End with sore feet and screaming stomachs. A cake crawl is a brilliant way of sampling eateries that have been on your hitless for months – just be prepared to have savoury cravings for the rest of the day. Your wee stomach can only take so much sugar.