Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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August 10, 2017

Mono Cafe Bar, Glasgow, Restaurant Review

A dairy and gluten free feast at this hipster hangout is nothing to snigger about says Catriona Thomson

Musical talent was the reason my daughter, Eve and I headed to Glasgow.

A classical guitar summer school at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for her meant a week of mother/daughter bonding in student halls, so we lined up a dining treat for ourselves and her fellow guitar soul sister, Ashley.

Our combined dietary requirements sound like the opening line of a joke: a vegetarian, a vegan and someone with gluten and dairy intolerances walk into a bar.

Those nutritional quirks meant we were seeking something above and beyond the usual café fare.

Mono on King Street is a vegan restaurant and the vibe is relaxed healthy hipster, complete with a vinyl record shop (Monorail Music) in one corner, owned by indie legend Steven Pastel. They cohabit the space, very bohemian.

The décor is eclectic, with mix-and-match chairs, some rather obviously recycled from Pizza Hut (the logo gives them away), adding to the art school atmosphere.

One wall features a row of Willy Wonka-esque silver brew vats. Our cheerful waitress explains that we can sample these in-house brewed libations.

Ashley plumps for fruity raspberry and rose lemonade (£1.90) and I select an earthy heat-seeking ginger beer (£1.90), while Eve sticks to her old familiar, Fentimans rose lemonade (£2.65).

It’s the type of place you can pitch up on your millennial bike and park it in the corner next to the stage, which Mono uses to host gigs and vegan community events.

Ashley has to catch a train back to Edinburgh later, so the fourth chair at our table is taken up by her guitar. I think we might be blending in.

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My guests are excited as they peruse what’s on offer. Ashley notes: “I normally scan the menus to see what I can eat, but here I can eat most things, that is such a novelty.”

We opt for a medley of appetisers, selecting a tangy but warming tomato soup with roasted aubergine and coriander, and slabs of sourdough bread (£4) (GF).

The doorstep slices are not easy to eat elegantly, but they are deliciously nutty and wholesome.

Another winner is the hand-knitted hummus, with a salad garnish (£4.25), ideal for artexing your ceiling, but forgivably moreish.

The sharing platter (£9.25) features a pot of chubby green olives, mighty fine mint-daubed dolmades, parachute-sized flat bread, and falafels fashioned into dainty patties along with another great dollop of hummus augmented with capers.

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There is an untidy heap of sweet, vinegary, but simultaneously tart pickled vegetables.

Sadly our table never solves the mystery of the missing beans, which feature on the menu.

Perhaps they have fallen out of “fava”. We certainly don’t care, as the platter is wolfed down.

The stand-out starter is the rainbow salad (£4.25) (GF) (WF), a quartet of beetroot, carrot, red onion and spiralised cucumber, bathed in a delicious dressing and decorated with sesame seeds, with lemon and gingery notes.

Eve spots that the restaurant was established in her birth year of 2002 so it must be an excellent vintage.

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I’m not in the mood for alcohol, but if you are, there is an ample bar selection of wines ranging from £2.90-£3.50 per 125ml glass or £15.75-£19.40 per bottle, with beers bottled and on tap.

For mains I opt for Banh Mi (£7), the Vietnamese word for bread, however in this case the bread is less baguette and more like a torpedo, which leaves me sunk.

However, the accompanying smoked grilled tofu and scrumptious sriracha sauce is magnificent.

One mini complaint is that the salad that comes with many of the dishes is always made from the same constituent parts. I know they can do better.

Adventurous Ashley picks the on-trend veg of 2017 with her main of jerk spiced jackfruit burrito with coconut (£7) (GF) (WF).

Jackfuit has an almost meat-like texture, similar to that of pulled pork.

It is served in a bowl, full to the brim with chunky, plump short grain brown rice and dollops of black beans, tomato salsa, gussied up with coriander and hot-as-hell scotch bonnet sauce, plus a sprinkling of jalapeños.

Eve’s vegan margherita pizza looks heavenly, coated with lashings of plum tomato sauce and bubbling vegan cheese, with a side portion of extra hot and peppery Cajun chips (£3.95).

We can’t leave without sampling the desserts, so we share a decadent raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake (£5) with extra caramel sauce (£1.50).

A crumbly walnut base is paired with a rich dark filling and a solitary berry on the side.

The retro chocolate fudge banana split (£5.50) is groaning with three types of vegan ice cream, and garlanded by a frivolous glacé cherry which the young ’uns won’t touch.

I hate them with a passion, but have to polish it off.

You can’t beat a bit of vegan gluttony in Glasgow.

Mono Cafe Bar

12 Kings Court, Glasgow

(0141 553 2400,

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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