Peña

The word Peña written in black letters on woodPeña is a recent addition to Glasgow’s ever-growing coffee scene, having joined the ranks in the summer of 2014. Located in the West End, near the university, it is (literally) just around the corner from Artisan Roast and not far from the likes of Papercup, Avenue Coffee and the Veldt Deli on the nearby Great Western Road.

Other than being a bit Tardis-like (small on the outside, surprisingly large on the inside), Peña’s main claim-to-fame is its toasted-sandwich-and-coffee business model. Unfortunately for Peña, I’ve dropped the Coffee Spot’s Best Cheese Toastie Award! Peña somewhat blots its copybook by serving soup (a soup toastie, anyone?) and cake to go with the toasted sandwiches, while there’s tea and shakes alongside the coffee.

However, this is redeemed by providing sweet as well as savoury toasties (The Nigella: white chocolate, raspberry jam, ricotta and almonds, caught my eye) and by getting its filter coffee from Berlin legends, The Barn. To my knowledge, Peña is the only place in Glasgow to regularly stock The Barn. The filter coffee is available via the Aeropress, with the particular beans on offer rotating on a regular basis. Espresso is provided by Workshop’s ubiquitous Cult of Done seasonal blend.

May 2018: I believe that Peña has closed its original location on Eton Lane, but there are plans for a successor. Watch this space!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The first indication that something is up: Peña's A-board at the end of Eton Lane.
  • Eton Lane itself; once an overgrown pedestrian shortcut, now much improved!
  • Peña, looking the other way. It really does seem quite small, doesn't it?
  • It looks slightly bigger from this angle, but not by much. Check out the benches...
  • ... and the cluster of chairs if you want to sit outside.
  • Looking in through the window, it's rather disconcerting to be looking UP at the floor!
  • Step inside and all becomes clear(ish): there are stairs leading up to the top floor...
  • ... while there are also steps down to the 'basement'...
  • The view of the downstairs of Peña from the stairs.
  • This is also where you'll find the counter, tucked away underneath the stairs.
  • The view of downstairs from in front of the counter.
  • Okay, upstairs we go...
  • ... pausing at the top to admire the neat water station.
  • The view from the top of the stairs.
  • There's this little bar immediately inside the door...
  • ... and beyond that, these neat booths.
  • The long view of the upstairs at Peña.
  • The light fittings are certainly different!
  • I also liked the map on the far wall.
  • The view from the map, looking back towards the stairs.
  • If you like, you can sit at these two tables by the windows...
  • ... or at this little bar.
  • Okay, time to go back downstairs...
  • ... pausing only to admire the racquets.
  • I also liked the stools...
  • The main menu is on the front wall, next to the retail shelf.
  • There really is quite a lot of coffee: some from The Barn, but most from Workshop.
  • There is a separate toastie menu...
  • ... and another for coffee (and other stuff).
  • The staff wait anxiously for my order... I'm not that scary, am I?
  • So, what to have? Cake?
  • Or soup, perhaps?
  • And to drink? Something from the espresso machine?
  • Or maybe filter...? Is that a pair of EK43s or a clever use of mirrors?
  • I went for the filter in the end, which arrived with a glass of water.
  • The coffee's in the cup!
  • I went for a toastie by the way, which also came with its own glass of water.
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Peña is small. It’s not quite in the tiny category, but approaching along Eton Lane (a pedestrian-only lane running between Great George and Gibson Streets), it looks tiny. Occupying a modest, standalone building on the east side of the lane, there’s a pair of benches plus a handful of chairs outside. Looking at it, I was of the firm opinion that there couldn’t be that much more to it inside. However, appearances can be deceptive and, just like the Tardis, Peña is much bigger on the inside than the outside.

In this case, however, it’s not temporal mechanics that explains the paradox, but the cunning use of a slope. Stepping through the sliding door, you’re confronted with two sets of steps, one ahead of you which leads up, the other, on the right, leading down. You need to go this way first and find the counter, which is tucked away to the left, under the stairs. There’s a surprising amount of seating down here, with a padded bench running in an L-shape against the back and right-hand walls. There are five small, square tables arranged along the bench, with small, low stools providing the rest of the seating. Everything, except the stools and the metal stairs, looks as if it’s been thrown together out of chip board, a feeling that’s reinforced by the walls and floor, which are bare chipboard as well.

Despite its small size, Peña doesn’t feel that cramped, helped by five large mirrors on the back wall, opposite the door. There are also plenty of lights to compensate for a low ceiling and a lack of natural light.

Peña has Wifi throughout, but if you want power, you have to head upstairs where the décor is very similar, but with a bit more natural light. Since there’s no counter, there’s a bit more room up here, but it’s still not that large. Directly ahead of you as you turn right at the top of the stairs is a narrow bar, with two stools. Beyond this, against the back wall, which is now to your left, there are a pair of booths, which are probably my favoured option. Opposite them, by the windows, are two thin, high tables with stools, while to your right is an L-shaped bar that runs around the top of the stairs.

Peña’s business model is fairly simple: coffee and a toastie for £4, with 50p extra for filter coffee. Since this is Peña’s raison d’être, I thought I should give it a go. There are six toasties on the regular menu, one of which is fish-based and one vegetarian. However, I went for the seventh, a veggie special of Falafel, Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, Spinach & Harissa, an interesting mix. I have to confess to being a little sceptical at the combination, but it was actually extremely tasty and very crunchy as well.

Since I can get Workshop’s Cult of Done pretty much whenever I feel like it, I went for the Lola from The Barn, a Costa Rican (the alternative being a more commonly-found Kocheri from Ethiopia). It arrived in a carafe with a big, round cup and a glass of water, which I appreciated. The coffee itself was lovely, a well-rounded, well-balanced cup and very smooth, with some subtle fruity notes.

5 ETON LANE • GLASGOW • G12
http://penaglasgow.co.uk
Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Workshop (espresso) + The Barn (filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Bar; Chairs, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Toasties, Soup, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 08:30 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits 29th November 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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3 thoughts on “Peña

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