Saturday, 14 May 2011

Espresso: probably the best panini in Glasgow.

Not so long ago Finnieston was only good for was skaggy bags of heroin and a Gaelic education. Thankfully the economic boom lasted long enough to brush aside Glasgow City Council's endemic lack of vision and shove the few remaining entrepreneurs into areas they could still afford. Thank god. Finnieston's now hoaching with good cafes, bars and places to eat. I even spotted an antiques shop the other day. Meanwhile, Byres Road, traditional commerce hub of the West End, rots amid a sea of chains.
One of the earliest beacons of hope was Espresso. Owned and run by the ever present Ricardo. It's without doubt the best snack bar I know.

The pizzas, pastas and soups are all good but for me the real stars are the panini. Choose your bread and choose your filling. All freshly made and quickly toasted.

Prices go from £2.60 for the Caprese: tomato, mozzarella, basil, oregano up to £4 for some of the meatier concoctions like Polonia: grilled marinated chicken breast, sun dried tomatoes, mayo and lettuce.

In total there are about 40 combinations. My favourite, always on ciabatta, is the Antipasto: grilled pepper, aubergine, courgette and onion with artichoke, anchovies, black olives and capers. It's about as good as a sandwich gets. A close second comes Quattro Stagioni: ham, artichoke, sauteed mushrooms and boiled egg.

Don't overlook the impressive and pleasingly underwrought salads and, of course, the coffee. It's sublime.

One time I happened to mention to Ricardo that the 'Young Turks' who'd set up a sandwich bar down the road also use Danesi coffee beans, but their coffee, while nice, wasn't a patch on his. After palpably bristling he said:
"Well you know Jonathan, everyday is different. When I'm heading in of a morning I'll notice the weather. If it's damp, the beans swell, if it's dry, they contract, so I'll adjust the grind accordingly. After that, I'll clean the machine and pour myself a coffee. Then I'll reasses, maybe alter the grind again, maybe adjust the water temperature, then have another coffee to check I'm happy".
At this point he paused, turned, and looked wistfully out the window in the direction of this 'other' place...
"So, I don't know, maybe these guys... maybe they don't do that".

6 Claremont Street
G3 7HA
0141 248 9174


  1. Went there for the first time today for a late breakfast - 10.30. Ordered a bacon and egg roll and latte. It was the best coffee I'd tasted in a while and the roll was maaaagic!

  2. It's official now: Finneston is cool.

  3. Then I'll reasses, possibly alter the grind again, possibly adjust the drinking water temperature, then have one more flavored coffee to verify I'm happy
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  4. I have probably bought a manual espresso machines or more. From the cheap dented aluminum stove-top percolators that you can find at a thrift store for less than a dollar,