Scotsman Review
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December 14, 2017

In Bloom, Glasgow, restaurant review

Tasty treats and recommendation from grunge hero give vegan venue In Bloom kudos, writes Catriona Thomson.

In the early 1990s, one band exploded on to the music scene with their raging guitars, angst and attitude.

Seattle grunge was suddenly cool, due mainly to Nirvana.

Lead singer Kurt Cobain was at the zenith of that movement, complete with eyeliner, striped jumper and his trademark tangle of blond hair.

Founding members, Cobain and bass guitarist Krist Novoselic lived in Aberdeen, Washington, near Seattle, so perhaps this tenuous Scottish connection explains why Novoselic gave a wee vegan café in Glasgow a plug on Facebook.

The owners are big fans; so much so, they named the café after the group’s 1992 single In Bloom.

I was never cool enough to be a fan at the time but I’m intrigued, and make a date with my very own “teen spirit”.

Although bijou, there is a comfortable seating area in the café with an obligatory photo of Cobain.

The interior pièce de résistance is the serving counter which features an eruption of faux floral decoration.

On top is a display of cakes either made in-house or supplied by Bavarian Bakehouse from Kirkintilloch.

They specialise in healthy, preservative and additive-free breads and rolls, using natural oils and vegetable margarine, so everything is suitable for vegans and vegetarians alike.

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The cakes look tasty; coconut snowballs, Empire biscuits and Danish pastries, encased under glass snow-globe lids.

This café has a laidback vibe and there’s definitely a “come as you are” attitude.

To my surprise, the Spotify generation are aware of the band – “Oh yeah, the floating baby one,” says the teen, adding cuttingly: “I’ve probably listened to them more than you.”

We order karma kola (£1.50) and lemonaid with lime (£2.30). Both of these drinks brands have a conscience and are either Fairtrade or ethically produced, with the bonus that they taste great.

We relax and chat to owner Rachael, who with 23 years’ experience of her own vegetarian/vegan journey is well placed to know how to excel at vegan comfort food.

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The chalkboard on which the hot sandwich menu is displayed is titled “Breed”, after yet another song reference.

I ask if she ever saw the band and as if on cue one of their tunes plays in the café sound system.

Sadly not is the answer, but she was delighted to get the thumbs-up from Novoselic. As thanks they named the signature Doner Krisbab (£5.95) dish after him.

It consists of seitan cold cuts, which is a gluten-based protein meat substitute, flavoured with herbs and spices and served in a pitta, with salad and garlic sauce.

It is sadly sold out on this occasion. “Nevermind” we both say, we need to come back.

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The “Hormoaning” teen opts for a chicken and chilli cheese panini (£4.95) which is expertly grilled, with the griddle crosses appearing to be almost a work of art.

The filling of barbecue faux chicken, topped with just the right mix between sauce and biting chilli cheese, was declared lip-smackingly good.

I stick with the owner’s recommendation, a hearty breakfast bloomer (£4), ideal for recovering from a hedonistic rock ’n’ roll night out, it consists of heavenly thick doorstop bread, as springy as one of the mattresses on sale at the bedshop across the street, stuffed with vegan haggis, sausage, sundried tomato, mushrooms and a tattie scone bound together by brown sauce. It sounds like a crazy  mix-tape mash-up, but every bite is delicious.

Other options are the tempting haggis and cheese toastie, with caramelised onion chutney and rocket (£5.95), BLTurnover (£4.95) or the seitan big cheese steak (£5.95).

All of these non-meaty dishes can be washed down with a coconut milk latte (£2), which tastes as good as it smells.

The oat milk cappuccino (£2) with a sprinkling of cocoa and a shot of caramel syrup is guilt-free as well as being delicious as it is sugar-free.

So we decide to overindulge in true rock-star style with some vegan cheesecake, tasting both the lemon drizzle and mint chocolate options (£3.50 each).

I know this place is just an unassuming sandwich café, but you never know, judging by who inspired it, it might just take over the world.

In Bloom

48 Clarendon Place, Glasgow G20 7PZ
Tel: 0141-237 2772,

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.
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