This musically focused new addition to Glasgow’s cafe scene has quickly found its groove.
It may take you a while to find Renfield Lane - and when you do, you might have second thoughts about visiting Stereo. This is because the lane is less than salubrious, and first impressions are not promising. The slippery cobbles lead you past precariously piled bins, broken bottles and the occasional bloke having a pee. However, things improve once you actually get into the cafe.
It’s situated in a building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh which was originally used by a newspaper. Stereo’s bright green exterior is a welcome distraction from the shabby street, and the contrast continues inside. The main bar area is bright and cheery, though its decoration is somewhat utilitarian.
Stereo is an unpretentious cafe and it’s easy to feel at home here. The vibe is overwhelmingly casual and staff are relaxed though not inattentive. In the evening the cafe is populated by an alarmingly hip crowd, but there’s no snobbery and all appear to be welcome here. There are gigs in the basement most evenings, often by local bands.
Stereo follows the pattern set by its older sister Mono in offering entirely vegetarian food, although with less of a focus on pub grub. The menu is varied and has both comfort food and more elaborate meals. You can start the day with one of the breakfast options, including scrambled tofu on home-baked organic bread or the aptly named big breakfast, which involves mushrooms, tomatoes, veggie sausage and bacon, beans and hash browns.
For dinner, you can choose from the soup of the day, one of the four salads, a sandwich or a main dish. A calzone with artichoke, tapenade and roast peppers, served with salad, is bulging with tender vegetables and made with a light dough that doesn’t leave you too full for dessert. The selection of cakes, pastries and desserts changes daily. Prices are moderate and you’d struggle to spend more than a tenner on two courses.
Organic beers and ciders are available alongside a wide selection of soft drinks and fruit teas. Tea and coffee is available either with cow’s or soya milk.
The Last Word
Stereo has turned a dingy alley into a laidback hot spot.