A whisky at The Wee Pub, live music at Jinty’s, romantic dinner in The Chip - Ashton Lane has it all
Upon arriving in Glasgow this September, everyone was gushing about a place called Ashton Lane, hidden in the heart of the West End, just behind Byres Road. As it’s so often regarded as one of the most famous and beloved places in Glasgow amongst visitors and locals alike, I was curious to find out what all the fuss was about. I followed its reputation through the West End and once I saw the twinkling fairy-lights in the distance and found myself strolling over the cobblestones, peeking into the numerous bars, pubs and restaurants in old brick stone houses and stumbling upon great live music, I was immediately hooked by the cheerful and magical atmosphere surrounding the little narrow street.
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder, how a rather unremarkable and tiny back-alley happens to host one of the most vibrant nightlife and culinary scenes in all of Glasgow. To understand why, we have to go back to the early 70s, when Ronnie Clydesdale opened The Ubiquitous Chip. Due to its growing reputation for fine regional Scottish cuisine, it soon caught people’s attention. With its relocation to Ashton Lane in 1976, along with The Grosvenor Cinema changing its entrance from Byres Road onto Ashton Lane, the story of the street’s success began.
Located in a former undertaker’s stable, the whitewashed house on the corner is a world in itself. Though the restaurant downstairs might be a bit too pricey for a student budget, there is a lovely brasserie upstairs, set in atmospheric greenery and twinkling lights: the perfect place for a romantic dinner. Head up onto the rooftop terrace or to the fireplace in the cozy Chip pub for a drink— and make sure you visit The Wee Pub just around the corner for a taste of great Whisky.
Walking towards Ashton Lane from Great George Street, Jinty McGuinty’s Irish Bar is the first place to pop into sight. As soon as you enter, it’s Guiness time! Not only do they pour a great pint, they also host a range of popular live music events. There are some amazing musicians, with artists and bands playing almost every night of the week, and their beer garden has plenty of seating for when things get too crowded.
If it’s not Guinness but cocktails (or perhaps vodka) you’re looking for, then enter through the bright red doors of Vodka Wodka just a few steps down the road. There are 70 vodkas on offer, and an extensive cocktail menu to choose from. And the best thing is, it’s all very budget-friendly, with cocktails just £3 between Sunday to Thursday - so make sure you don’t have any classes the next day...
Just across the street you will spot The Gardener. Just as botanical as the interior you’ll find floral drinks like Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic, Midnight Flower and more. Or you can enjoy your Sunday breakfast in the shabby-chic interior, just out on the cobbles, or in the Grosvenor Café upstairs. You can also stop by in the morning for a flat white fix on your way to uni for a supremely reasonable £1.
Speaking of The Grosvenor Cinema, a visit to the beloved picture house is always a good idea— blockbuster, arthouse, The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long – there’s something for everyone. You should also make sure to bring an empty stomach, as you can get 20% off your food bill at The Gardener and The Grosvenor Café with your ticket, and even take some dishes and drinks into the movie theatre.
Moving further down the street, you’ll find the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen. From Lager to IPA, a fun Pub quiz on a Tuesday night, delicious (even malted) bites, good music and the brewing facilities right there on the bottom floor, it holds the perfect recipe for a fun night out.
Last but not least, I would like to introduce Brel – an establishment I can honestly say is one of my favorite places in the West End. A charming beer garden, heated patio, as well as walls, windows and staircases lit up by fairy-lights, some strong Belgian craft beer (Duvel, Tripel Karmeliet and more) and a sinful chocolate fondue to delight your stomach - make sure to take them up on their £6 before 6pm offer, and get your serving of moules mariniere from Monday to Friday.
To conclude this ode to Ashton Lane, it’s safe to say that a visit to the beloved street is surely a feast for the senses. We owe both Ronnie Clydesdale and The Chip a great deal of thanks for bringing attention to this little alley, helping to turn it into the not-so-hidden-anymore gem of the West End that it is today.