This is the centenary year for a living part of Glasgow’s food story. The University Cafe is a throwback to the first proliferation of local ice cream parlours across the city. The cafe’s enduring appeal is down to an idiosyncratic family fusion of Italian and Glaswegian influences held together in a tiny Art Deco room with slim wood-lined booths and bedecked in kitschy nostalgia.
Students have depended on this place for generations. Sliding into places on a bench to order their hangover crushing meals like pie, beans and chips or macaroni and chips or half pizza and chips. Pretty much everything comes with chips. Except maybe the spaghetti bolognese.
Remember: they’ll make you a mighty fried breakfast when you need one.
Glaswegians of a certain vintage come to the University Cafe to remember date nights of the past or being brought in for a sweet treat as a kid.
While you will find the building blocks of the Glasgow Diet along with swift delivery of cans of ginger or cups of tea when you visit, above all, this is probably the best place in Glasgow to order ice cream.
You might want to move straight to dessert.
The ice cream itself is smooth and super-sweet. It’s a reminder of a carefree past, before Irn Bru changed their recipe.
Owner Carlo Verrecchia makes ice cream to an old family recipe that has been passed down through the generations.
It is food to make you feel good and should be enjoyed with abandon. And ribbons of raspberry sauce.
There’s a cabinet beside the till that shows the classic menu, many of ice cream dishes have fallen out of fashion. The display is a Glasgow cultural artefact.
You can choose from normal cone, a straight-forward 99 or opt for the formidable twin double 99 cone impossibly piled with vanilla ice-cream.
Then there’s the heritage options ranging from a wafer (two scoops of ice-cream sandwiched between two thin wafer slices) up to a double nougat (the same as before but with two generous slabs of chocolate nougat added) – I’m told this was my gran’s favourite. The banana split sundae is pretty special.
The University Cafe has made generations of Glaswegians happy. They’ve a simple, distinctive, formula that is gloriously dated. We hope they never change.
The University Cafe
87 Byres Rd, Glasgow G11 5HN
T:0141 339 5217