It’s seldom that a restaurant or a cafe has this level of expectation attached to it. When we announced that Glasgow will have its first dedicated avocado bar, people began to project all kinds of assumptions onto the enterprise. It’s tied into global pop culture and food trends. The word hipster is unavoidable. Comparisons will be drawn with other similar operations in Brooklyn, Shoreditch or Amsterdam.
Avo Avo has been taking shape at the end of the Finnieston strip, close to where the culinary creativity of Argyle Street begins to peter out as it meets St Vincent Street.
It will be near The Cran which has had some success catering to a vegan crowd. McDonald’s stands meekly in the background, out of step with the burgeoning culinary reputation of an area that’s unexpectedly become connected with everything Glasgow is trying to do creatively with food.
Other changes this side of the street have included Bannisters pub giving way to the music and craft beer focused Strip Joint. This stretch is starting to develop a bit of a scene of its own. We’re still waiting for someone to turn the old Anderston police station into a pop-up street food market or late night techno bar..
By the end of the month, Avo Avo will be testing Glasgow’s appetite for avocado from a compact dedicated cafe. There’s been a huge reaction to the news. The opening will be a food event, we’re predicting queues of people looking for ripe avocados in different forms. Seriously.
We’ve peered into the space as work has continued here, monitoring the progress, and sat down with some of the people involved in the project.
At the moment the earliest Avo Avo will be open is 17th November.
Since the initial announcement, there’s been interest from other cities in Scotland and we get the sense there may be opportunities to expand beyond Glasgow if they get this right. At the moment, that’s the most important consideration. Their team of chefs have been experimenting with avocado recipes in an attempt to construct the first menu.
We spoke to Mark Singh, one of the driving forces behind the food side of the project. Enthusiastic and engaging, he’s a third generation restaurateur and has drawn on the experience that can be found in the kitchen at Mister Singh’s India on Elderslie Street. He’s from the family that brought haggis pakora to the table in Glasgow so he knows a bit about innovative food.
The group of people working to create Avo Avo did at one point include Jamie Crawford from Roasters Deli but he has exited the project to concentrate on other commitments. Within the core people involved, the most important right now are the newly hired avocado bar chefs, many of whom previously worked in demanding environments with hotel groups like Crowne Plaza.
You’ll be able able to order smoothies, which will come as no great surprise. Other ideas include avocado ice cream, chocolate pudding with avocado through it, an avocado espresso. They are talking to suppliers about an avocado craft beer for when they get their licence (it can take five months after you open in Glasgow before you get to sit in front of the licensing board). That would have local hipsters twirling their moustaches in delight.
Interestingly, almost all of the dishes will also have a non-avocado based alternative so there’s room in the restaurant for those not particularly impressed by the versatile, green fruit. You don’t have to stand outside while your vegan pals have their lunch.
There will be an element of meeting demand for the ubiquitous smashed avocado on toast while pushing the merits of other more experimental dishes. The development process for Avo Avo has included visits to cafes in London, Amsterdam and New York to see how they already cater for a demanding crowd and trying dishes like avocado macaroni and cheese.
Avocado is an ingredient that needs attention to ensure consistency in dishes so that will be a focus across the menu. The coffee menu will get attention. Both will come together in an avesso – avocado extract, vanilla essence, and espresso shot combined, with some whipped cream on top, served in the avocado skin. It will Instagram well.
There’s also been mention of avocado fritos, chips in a panko batter. As with any new operation, demand will dictate which dishes stay on the menu and which don’t quite work out. Prototype green avocado buns are being baked at the moment.
There will be space for about 25 people to sit down in Avo Avo, a takeaway menu and they are looking at deliveries. They will operate a BYOB policy until a drinks licence is granted.
Faddish food places elsewhere have occasionally provoked the raising of arched eyebrows and scornful comments. This may be the same here. I mean, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, or should that be espresso from an avocado skin?
Avo Avo know what they are getting into. We’ve mentioned this and they say “We want to make it very clear to people, to say it’s all about fun, it’s all about being different. There’s something for everyone, it’s not restricted. Part of the menu we’re going to have is going to be loaded with healthy options. If that’s your life then you’ll love our salads. If you are looking for fried avocado pakora with a chilli dip, or treats with loads of cream or chocolate, that will be there too, fire in. We’re not just going to be a normal deli”.
946 Argyle Street
T: 0141 248 1741
UPDATE: First menu below