l Insomnia Gallery and Cafe 38 Woodlands Road. 332 5500. ‘The catering committee of the licensing board is full ofold geriatrics who‘ve never been out fora coffee after 9pm because it might give them too much of a buzz and they‘d be awake all night.‘ spits Mark Norris owner of Glasgow's first 24-hour cafe which curiously is only open fourteen and a half hours a day. His hunt for the missing nine and a half hours has so far been in vain. ()n the door he planned never to close. he has painted a pronouncement: ‘Bureaucracy dictates that we will not be open 24 hours. Be angry, we are.
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lnsomnia: waking up Glasgow What can you do in a city that wants to be cosmopolitan but hasn’t got the balls?‘
Less angry. more exasperated. Norris was attempting to offer a much needed facility fora wannabe tourist city. Tuming what he describes as a ‘crummy old sight‘ into a bright, airy, imaginatively and amusineg decorated cafe took much planning. He thought the challenge would be getting the food. design and service right. not getting the doors open. He took legal advice from all the quarters he could think of but, when he came to open up. he was treated to a visitation by the police to tell him. in their opinion. that he was breaking the law by opening
after I lpm. To them a cup of coffee was catering. and to cater you need a catering licence. ‘Some accurate advice would have been outstanding.‘ Norris reflects. ‘You go along to these people and they give you advice from their own little world. but you have to try and work out how far their little world extends.‘
Frustrated by officialdotn. he‘s attempting to use the vagaries of the law to his advantage. Firstly he found that if his tnain business isn‘t catering then he can serve coffee and snacks. So it‘s not a coffee bar at all he says. it's a gallery. The pictures are for sale and the show changes monthly. The floor was painted by a local artist and there are four baths; some full of plants. others with fountains and goldfish. He also discovered that he can give food away after I lpm. btit he isn't allowed to sell it. So. the plan is. you buy a picture of a cappuccino and with it you get a free real cappuccino. In the long run though he‘s capitulating and has applied for his late night catering licence.
The location is vital. Situated on the edge of both the city centre and the west end at the bottom of \‘v’oodlands Road. the cafe/gallery gets a great deal of passing trade. The area also has a high proportion of students and young professionals for whom the coffee house has quickly become a focal point. a bohemian alternative to the public house.
Despite the problems in fulfilling his original notion for the meantime. the
- ‘xIense taste buds?
In fact, Set lNIZlelS l)ecause
'I‘llt‘ 'I‘CI’I'EICC, Edinburgh’s (“VII
continental cale is tlie tastiest place in town.
Iitcls into our tempting two-course lnillet, just
Tliursday niglit, discover our . asta lsnacls.
On Sunday, our scrumptious Bruncli is a must (Adults £14.00 all in, Cliildren 25] per stone weislied in). Tuesday IliSllt is Lite Nite (for weiglit-watcliers).
Or watcli tlie world so by over alternoon tea
Of 8 812185 0t \VlIlC 11] ()UI’ conservatory.
Open 1 l to l l, Tlie Terrace
is always appetizins.
Take a l)ite anytime.
Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh. Tel: (0131) 229 9131
l cafe/gallery is doing perfectly well. The l kitchen is kept busy all day long and at lunch time they already have people I queuing for tables. The food is i inexpensive. tasty and fun. Nothing on ! the strongly American inﬂuenced menu 4 costs more than £3.50 and at least half I the dishes are vegetarian. A big thrust ofthe menu are the sample platters. As Norris owns the delicatessen next door. they are able to make up plates of different meats. cheeses or pates. You can sit with your own bottle of red wine and ‘snack out'. ‘lt's a unique dining experience'. he says. Coffee house. gallery. snack bar, or late night hang-out - the lnsornnia is definitely unique. (Rory Weller)
41 west nicolson street edinburgh (0131) 667 6676
I Care Monsm 10.300m — 5.30pm Bistro Wed—SOT 5.30pm - 10.30pm
simple good taste
LUNCH — 12—2.30pm EVENINGS — 6—1 1pm (last orders 10.30pm)
10, anchor close, Cockburn Street EDINBURGH 226 5145 50,. East Fountainbridge EDINBURGH 228 4003
Hawaii} tit/e dart has
8 Ruthven Lang a Glasgow
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The List 28 Jul—IO Aug I995 91