Popular dining pop up returns to hidden gem in Glasgow

The Balcony Cafe in Glasgow's climbing centre on Paisley Road West has long been lauded as a great, if unlikely, place to eat

Published 14th May 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

And for the last few months it has played host to a series of pop up dining events, which have been sell out successes.

The pop up, known as the Flavabomb project kitchen, has a set tasting menu of five courses which are kept secret until the night, with only key ingredients revealed beforehand.

After the success of the past eight pop ups, the team have decided to make them a regular monthly event, which was announced recently on the Balcony Cafe's social media.

We chat to head chef, Liam Mcalpine to find out more.

Tell us a bit about the Flavabomb project?

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Picture: the Flavabomb Kitchen Project has become a must-visit for diners in Glasgow, supplied

The flavabomb kitchen project lets me offer an event that is the closest thing to owning my own restaurant, it puts me in charge of every aspect, from the plates to the produce even down to the art on the wall.
I love this concept as I am a very creative person, and love the idea of creating new dishes for every event. I am all about flavourbombs, I hate it when dishes taste the same on the first bit to the last so I enjoy creating little notes of amazing flavour that stand out and make you want to go in for more.
It might be an acidic note a sweet syrup or a spicy crunch, I want to excite diners by adding something unexpected to make the dishes amazingly tasty.
I have been known for using ingredients such as Monster Munch crisps or Buckfast as much as truffles or red wine.  It doesn’t matter the cost or how prestigious an item if it works it works.

What makes the climbing centre a great venue for such an event?


The climbing centre is an amazing space.  It is a church that has had its entire contents stripped out, leaving just the walls and the upper floor balcony.
We have turned the lights down and created flashes of lights and twinkling of candles to make the venue even more special.  On top of that you have a 30ft stain glass window as the main attraction.

What can diners expect?

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Picture: a dish from a previous pop up, supplied

Diners can expect a laid back atmosphere in which to enjoy themselves. We are in no rush and nor should you be. The events are a five course tasting menu with an amuse bouche and bread course.
Nothing has been left out of the flavabomb mentality, even the butter which has morcilla, rocket and sea kelp.
We serve the event as a sort of surprise menu, and only disclose the main flavours - diners will understand what they will get but not how it will come, and you can now book either a 'carnivore' or veggie option.
For example, in the last kitchen we had moussaka, but this was served as a rack of lamb with nutmeg, confit tomatoes and and olive and halloumi garnish.
The coolest thing about the events are our staff.  We want to have as much fun as the diners, who can see everything we are doing as we have an open kitchen, which leads to multiple requests for a photo!
The staff and customers come together to create an amazing playlist of songs on the night (although the staff have the right to veto any shocking suggestions).
On the night itself we offer a few early seats between 7pm-9pm (8 spaces ) and 9:15pm -11:30pm (8 spaces).
However, where we differ from all other places is that the remaining 35 places are booked into an eating time slot.
If you book a table at say 8:15pm, you just know that is the time you eat but your table will be available from 7pm, and you and your guests can come in, have drinks, chill out, chat and enjoy the atmosphere.
We don't turn about 80% of our tables meaning that guests can come in early or stay longer aster the meal.

What's your favourite seasonal ingredient(s) to cook with?

I love every type of food especially seasonal food. Our suppliers are amazing and we always share who they are in our menus.

I love jazzing things up. It means more to me that someone says: "oh man, that was the best carrot I’ve ever had", rather than "the lamb was cooked perfectly".

Any good cook can cook something perfectly it’s a whole different ball game giving something the flavabomb touch.

It's BYOB, any recommendations for drink to bring along on the night?

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Picture: the Balcony Cafe Facebook

On the drinks front we encourage people to take advantage of the free corkage and bring amazing wines, beers; even bring along a selection of drinks and have a wee tasting.

Why are Starbucks making a pork flavoured latte - new limited edition coffee and where to try it

Our customer bookings are growing by the day. A table of two will then become a table of six for the next event as the word spreads and the event grows.

When is your next pop up?

9th June, with tickets available now.

Any plans for the future?

I am not sure what the future holds, one day I hope to get my own show on the search of flavabombs.
For now I am enjoying the pops ups and little events throughout the city.  I had a lot last year and I have a desire for even more now.
For more information on the Flavabomb Kitchen Project, please click here.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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