Finding a good lunch around campus can be surprisingly tricky. The West End is full of great little places for something to eat (the University Café on Byres Road has always been my go-to because of the crisp, golden perfection of their chips and their properly excellent Italian ice cream), but on a budget the cost can quickly add up.
I still begrudge the lunchtimes I wasted in first year when I was new to Glasgow and unsure where to eat; I could be found most days munching on the depressing library café sandwiches. I’ve always found the food options provided on campus to be lacking, so the GUU’s sleekly-designed food outlet The Union Kitchen - newly opened this semester promoting a varied and budget-friendly menu - wouldn’t have been my first choice for lunch. But I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised.
Mac and cheese, at £3.70, is creamy and surprisingly cheesy, with firm pasta and none of the dense clagginess you often find at that price. There’s garlic bread too - buttery and toasted - and plenty of smooth, cheesy sauce for dipping said bread into. Is it the best mac and cheese you’ll ever have in your life? Probably not. But it’s less than four quid, garlic bread and all, and that’s not to be sniffed at.
A gratifyingly crusty toasted sub filled with pulled pork and mozzarella is the same kind of price, and I’ve paid a lot more for pulled pork a lot worse. The kitchen isn’t stingy with the meat — big, tender chunks of pork fall out from the bread, slathered in sauce and oozingly melty mozzarella. There’s an okay side salad, a handful of peppery rocket, some red onion and a wodge of tomato. Yes, the barbecue sauce tastes like any other pre-packaged barbecue sauce, but at £3.70 I’m not complaining. Hell, it’s better than anything you’ll find across the room at Subway.
I find it difficult to pick holes, especially at these prices. I suppose the salad beside the pulled pork could do with some kind of dressing, and I wonder if the mac and cheese really needs the perplexingly vintage sprinkle of dried oregano on top. But they’re minor gripes—for less than a fiver, these are genuinely good plates of food.
I was sceptical of the Union Kitchen. But the food is good quality, cheap and it’s right on campus. At any rate, a hot, sit-down meal in the union where you’re not having to waste time trekking to Great Western Road certainly makes for a much better lunchtime than one of those soulless library sandwiches.