' TAPAS BAR La Tasca

Since the demise of .lunkanoo, Glasgow has been deprived of a place dedicated to tapas. While the Spanish speciality has crept onto the menus of a few venues around town, La Tasca Spanish bar and restaurant should offer a more authentic atmosphere when it opens in mid-August. Since its Manchester beginnings in the early 905, owner Neil Gatt has taken La Tasca from north west England to Newcastle, Bristol, and recently Birmingham as well as other locations.

But his Glasgow branch on Renfield Street (next to Gaucho


Choose from 32 tapas

Grill) is the first in Scotland. Another one in Edinburgh where the competition is bound to be stiffer is set to follow within the year at the west end of George Street

‘I’ve spent seven years looking into tapas,‘ Gatt says. 'We’ve accumulated a library of dishes that goes into the hundreds.’ From this tome of recipes, La Tasca tries to find those that appeal to British tastes. You won’t find sesos en adobo, for example, a popular tapas in Spain of marinated lamb brains served on toothpicks. ’The menu is aimed at the masses,‘ Gatt says, 'rather than those looking for stranger items from Spanish cuisine.’

Still, with a list of 32 tapas, from patatas bravas (deep fried potatoes at £1.95) to cordero en salsa (casserole of lamb with wine, onions, mustard and peppercorn for £3.45), there is plenty of choice at La Tasca. In addition, paellas (seafood, meat and vegetarian options) for two or more are served in the evenings. Pitchers of sangria are £11.50 and San Miguel will be kept on tap.

Wine has become ’a bit of a passion’ for Gatt and La Tasca serves more than 30 Spanish varieties. He expresses irritation at the mark up that many restaurants charge, so his prices are kept in check. A bottle of the most expensive red, the Campo Viejo Gran Reserva Rioja, is £16.95 and house wines are a reasonable £8.95.

La Tasca has been popular enough to prompt imitators down south. In Leeds they reportedly pinched not only the name but also the trademark terracotta and tile interiors and menu as well. Although imitation may be the highest form of flattery, Gatt has scuppered copycats with legal action. But he is slightly aloof when it comes to the secret of success. 'I think it is a number of things,’ he says. ‘We focus on those characteristics that make it successful.’

A relaxed, informal, if traditional setting, where orders are flexible and dishes reasonably priced. It sounds like Spain. (Barry Shelby)

Hi La Tasca, 39—43 Renfi'e/d Street, Glasgow, 0747 204 5788.

8 ER HALL Pivo Pivo

As any beer connOisseur who has been to Central and Eastern Europe Will testify, a frosty glass of the local brew is rather difficult to beat. Colin Barr knew that when he opened Republic Bier Halle last year and two local lads have followed sUit With the recently opened Pivo Pivo in Waterloo Street. But DaVid Fleming 28, and Stuart Botterill 25, have

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not copied the city-centre competition at Republic, With its stone caissons and heavy industrial feel, Fleming says that Pivo Pivo is not intended to be a style bar but a destination Where anyone can fit in and drink comfortably.

With the help of architect Ian Johnston, he and Botterili have created something rather like a beer hall you might find in Eastern Europe: cavern- like With stucco walls, arched passageways and vaulted ceilings, rough-hewn timber tables and upholstered benches. Alth0ugh a plasma screen TV Will undoubtedly and unfortunately become the focus of the back room, a wall-filling black and white photo of a tram rolling through pre-Velvet RevolutiOn Prague prowdes an atmospheric backdrop. Although don't let the red T fool you, it's actually Glasgow (Tennent's is helping back the boys' venture).

Pivo means beer in most SlaVic !anguages. And Pivo Pivo the bar has

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nearly 80 different bottled varieties from around the world in cold boxes behind the bar. Among them are the Czech fa\./ourites Budvar, Krusowce and Gambrinus, all coming in 500ml bottles at £2.50. Also notable is Kozel, a ClaSSIC pilsner With Just a hint of hops made in the town of Velke PopOVice near Prague. Among the less common brands are Mash Beer from the London bar/micro-brewery and ChOuffe from an artisanal brewery in the Belgian Ardennes.

Pivo Pivo also stocks a decent range of Wines as well as several vodkas and schnapps. Food is served from noon—7pm, With a menu that offers variety such as salmon steak, steak sandWich, vegetable risotto as well as gOUIash. Pivo Pivo's £4.95 lunch speCiaI (Mon—Thu, noon—3pm) includes soup, sandWich, and ch0ice of Wine, soft drink, Or, of course, beer. (Barry Shelby) I Pivo Pivo, 75 Waterloo Street, Glasgow, 0747 564 8700.



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Side dishes

Food news and Festival fun

IT SHOULD GO without saying that the best guide to eating out in Edinburgh during the Festival comes free with this issue of The List. Our 34-page Festival Eating Out Guide has up-to-date reviews of some 350 restaurants, bistros and cafes across town, as well as their addresses, telephone numbers and critically - opening hours during the Festival. Also included in this invaluable directory to dining are those festival venues that serve food such as the Gilded Balloon's Rizla Lounge@Loca and the Big Word Cafe at the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square Gardens.

WIRED FOODIES MIGHT take a peak at the website featuring Gordon Ramsay, Antony Worrall 'Woz' Thompson, Sophie Grigson and Gary Rhodes among others. They have Joined together at wwwfoodoocom which is designed to serve as a food and drink forum. Those who register are promised regular e-mails With ’updates about what’s new on Foodoo, what's in season and what’s great to eat at the moment',

SIDE DISHES HAS more modest ambitions but is interested in your views on eating and drinking in Scotland. Send comments to

NEW BARS ARE opening at a

breakneck pace. At 257 West Campbell Street in Glasgow, one-time

v lawyers' offices have been

transformed by Yellow Studio designer Stuart Murray into a modern continental bar Cafe Tempra. In the former premises of Millar's on Sauchiehall Street is Zaks, which is slated to open 8 August. It plans to be a casual, fully licensed cafe open from 7.30am to llpm. In the West End, Bar Bola owners have launched 54 Below at 3 Kelvmgrove Street.

BACK IN THE capital, a new cocktail bar, Tonic, is on North Castle Street. Its cocktail list has 200 concoctions, from the classic Cosmopolitan to modern mixes, such as Banana-Fo- Fana (vodka, Galliano, orange sherbet, banana liquor and fresh bananas). During the Festival, its hours are 3pm—3am. On George IV Bridge, the new Frankenstein pub would appear to appeal to a different crowd altogether. To open from 9am, it will serve breakfast, offer a full menu until 9pm and then ‘monster munchies' until close.

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