As is often the case, it seems unfair to call somewhere with two outlets a chain, particularly when they’re a few minutes’ walk from each other. However, such is the case with Avenue G, although there are aspirations to open more branches.
Byres Road, in the heart of Glasgow’s West End, is the original, opening in April 2011. It feels very modern, all glass, steel and white plastic, which, if I’m honest, isn’t really my kind of thing. Décor notwithstanding, it’s a lovely, bright space with a gloriously high ceiling and, the saving grace, a mezzanine behind the counter.
There is also some stupendous food, amazing coffee, and, best of all, table service! It’s full of nice touches, such the automatic provision of a glass of water. Little things like this don’t cost much, but make a big difference.
Avenue G has a standard espresso menu, offering a house-blend and a decaf, with three single origins available through the Aeropress. When I visited, the coffee was from Monmouth, with some guests, but by the time you read this, Avenue G should be roasting its own beans (under the separate Avenue Coffee Roasting Company) at the Great Western Road Branch.
September 2015: I’m delighted that Avenue G was short-listed for this year’s Lunch Business Awards Best Coffee Experience.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
From the street, Avenue G seems quite small, with a narrow store front on the busy Byres Road. Three metal tables grace the pavement outside, although it was far too busy for me to considering dining al fresco. Stepping inside, however, is where Avenue G comes into its own. I was immediately struck by the soaring ceiling and the amazing chandelier that hangs in the middle of the room (which is roughly a cube).
It’s very bright and spacious, partly due to the wall-to-floor window and glass door at the front. It helps that the décor is predominantly white, with plain, whitewashed walls and ceiling and a plain, grey floor. There are also plenty of lights on hand to counter the dark, winter days.
There’s not too much space downstairs, which is dominated by the large counter and the kitchen space behind it, where all the food is prepared. There’s a group of five tables between window and counter, with a narrow bar tucked in against the left-hand wall. Four of the tables are arrayed around a padded bench which runs beneath the window and along the right-hand wall, with the fifth free-standing in the middle of the floor.
The counter has an impressive cake selection cunningly facing the tables, while espresso machine and brew bar are tucked away a little out of sight on the left. At the back, just beyond the espresso machine, metal stairs switch-back to the T-shaped mezzanine. There are two tables along a padded bench on your left, then, at the top of the T, a six-person bar runs along the front of the mezzanine, glass panels stopping you accidentally knocking things onto the staff below. It provides a great view over the counter and the rest of the café.
It was very busy during my lunchtime visit, with several people deciding to forgo the pleasure due to a lack of tables. I ended up perching at the downstairs bar (I’d have gone upstairs if there’d been a seat).
Avenue G is as much about food as coffee. Fortunately, it’s equally passionate about both. It offers comprehensive breakfast and lunch menus, with breakfast available all day (as it should be). Since I’d never had them before, I tried eggs “en cocotte”: traditional French baked eggs. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and still wasn’t quite sure what I had, except that I really liked it. My eggs arrived in a dish topped with cheese, with a delicious English muffin which I smothered in Scottish butter. All eaten by a Welshman. Very cosmopolitan.
My coffee, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Monmouth, arrived on a perfectly-proportioned wooden tray, china cup side-by-side with metal coffee pot, complete with tasting notes and details of the coffee’s origin. These are the little things that I appreciate.
It’s a coffee that really rewards the patient. Arriving just before my lunch, it wasn’t anything special on first tasting. Having left it to cool while I tucked into my eggs, I discovered that it had really developed. While I didn’t get (no surprise there) subtle notes of “toast with butter and jam” or the more obvious fruits listed on the tasting notes, it was full-bodied with a lovely smoothness and dry finish (which, I was pleased to see, was on the tasting notes).
|291 BYRES ROAD • GLASGOW • G12 8TL|
|http://avenue.coffee||+44 (0) 141 339 5336|
|Monday||08:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Avenue Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Bar, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:30 – 19:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||08:30 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:30 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:30 – 19:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||25th April 2014|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Glasgow for more great Coffee Spots.
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