When doing my (food-related) research for this trip to Glasgow, I was struck by the incredible number of vegan pubs on offer. Once I got here I started to join the dots - they're mostly run by the same group, which seems to have made it its mission to bring vegan food to Scottish hipsters. Mono is a sister venue to Stereo and goes in for a similar vibe - it's not quite as stylish, but it really brings the hip, incorporating a zine store, record shop and live music space alongside the bar and cafe. It's a bit tricky to find, tucked into a weird little strip mall off King Street. I did a few laps of the block before I finally figured it out.
At lunchtime on a Sunday things are pretty quiet - there's a steady trickle of people wandering in for lunch, but the stage is packed up and the vibe is very relaxed. The bar has a reasonably good range of booze, but also offers up four different home-brewed softdrinks - given the state of my jetlag I decided not to risk lunchtime alcohol and sampled one of the ginger beers instead. It was excellent, spicy and refreshing without the syrupy sweetness that you often get in the commercial versions.
The food menu is brief but varied - there are a handful of sandwiches (e.g. smoked tofu, pesto mayo, tomato and spinach, £5.25~AU$9), some salads (e.g. chickpea, fried potato and sundried tomato salad, £6.50~AU$11.20) and then the mains - two burgers, a risotto, a nasi goreng and whatever's on the specials board. On my first visit I hit up one of the specials - to-fish and chips with minted mushy peas and tartar sauce (£7.95~AU$13.65).
This was just incredible, probably the best meal I ate in Glasgow. I spent the whole time kind of bummed out that Cindy wasn't with me though - given her deep and abiding love of tofu-based fish and chips and tartare sauce it just felt cruel to be enjoying such a great dish without her. Still, I soldiered on. The tofu was the highlight, with a crisp batter dotted with mustard seeds coating a surprisingly fishy centre (partly the nori, but the texture of the tofu was intriguing as well). But the trimmings were excellent as well - great mushy (but not too mushy) peas, decent chips and a tangy, thick tartar sauce stuffed with pickley bits.
Inspired by the fish and chips I headed back for lunch on Wednesday, finding a similarly low-key vibe. This time I ordered off the menu, going with the seitan burger, served with barbecue sauce, mustard, dill pickle, red onion and tomato and a side of fries (£8.00~AU$13.75). I added some jalepenos just because I could (60p~AU$1).
I love a good seitan burger - there's something about the texture of well made seitan that works perfectly as a burger patty. And this was a pretty good version - the seitan had a slightly crunchy exterior and was a bit soft and stretchy inside. The 'shoestring fries' weren't really what I was expecting, but they still hit the spot nicely.
Mono is just as impressive as Stereo, with great food, friendly staff and a lovely atmosphere. The people behind this mini-vegan empire really know what they're doing (up next: the third place they run, The 78).
Mono is well-loved, with rave reviews on The Fun Side of Veganism, Squeaky Clean Vegan Bean, Displaced Beachbums, Shiny Bubbles, Adventures in Veg, and Cherie City, while Food and Drink Glasgow are a bit less enthusiastic.____________
12 Kings Court, Glasgow
0141 552 9458
0141 552 9458
starters and sides £2.00-3.60 ~AU$3.40-6.10, sandwiches, salads and mains £5.25-8.00 ~AU$8.90-13.60