Today, I review the Byblos Cafe in Glasgow’s trendy West End, and I tell ya, they didn’t make it easy. That review of Morello’s I did? That was meant to be this, only they don’t open on Sunday. Other times I’d popped by late at night, only to find they shut relatively early – including after one sub-crawl where I missed it by five minutes, on account that I fell asleep and went round Glasgow several times. I won’t mention this ever again.
But last Friday, I made it at long last! My quest was at an end. But what to have? SPOILER: I had this –
A chicken shawarma wrap. Well, I say chicken shawarma wrap. Mainly chicken, but more on that later. Let’s face it, regular readers will know that I tend to go for this as a standard, but the competition was fierce – a really promising menu filled with middle eastern treats, stuffed vine leaves, fatoush etc, but what really caught my eye was this – the pizzas.
Chicken shawerma, ladies and gentlemen! Now, I realise that doner kebab pizzas are nothing new, but the truth of the matter is that they are awful and anyone who eats them deserves to be electrocuted. Chicken though… that could work. Unfortunately, I only saw this after I had ordered, so too bad.
The cafe itself is quite a nice, small, cosy affair – kinda reminded me of a quaint English tearoom somewhere in Bronte country or something, except 1) it was a middle eastern cafe, 2) it’s in Glasgow. They may or may not sell tea – I didn’t bother to ask. Pleasant decor adorned the walls, and given its proximity to the University of Glasgow, this place on looks alone probably should be a favourite with students.
However, and here’s the rub – that wrap that I photographed above was, unfortunately, the worst I’d ever had. How can this be? They look the part, seem authentic, but the food was a massive let down. In part, due to the rather odd combination of ingredients that they’d used.
As you can guess by the name, this is a cafe, and like traditional cafes and unlike most takeaways, the food is prepared out in the back, rather than in full view albeit behind a perspex, which I like. However, had I seen what was going into this, I probably would have had a word mid-way. I unwrapped the paper bag, bit into the wrap, and was greeted with the taste of chips and mayonnaise.
CHIPS AND MAYONNAISE.
I temporarily doubted my sanity. Did I just think that I’d ordered a chicken shawarma wrap, but my mouth had said something different? I was discombobulated to say the least, and in the confusion I nearly spat it out. This said, I was starving, so didn’t. On the next bite, the good old take of chicken came through, so again, I doubted my own sanity. Did I imagine the chips? The mayonnaise had suddenly got a hint of garlic to it, so back to normal, except there was far too much of it. Next bite – chicken and chips – and whats more, the chicken wasn’t that warm, and the chips – well, were chips.
I took to Twitter to ask if this was a thing – 66% of people said no, however Omar then hit me with this curveball –
Well, that’s me told, I guess – and it’s not always a bad thing – traditional Greek gyros, for instance, include heavily seasoned chips, and they’re boss. But the chips – like the chicken, and the wrap in general, were relatively cold – which is bad for chips as cold in this instance meant undercooked, and anyone whos ever had undercooked chips (Wetherspoons are notorious for this) will know that they are the worst thing ever – hell, uncooked chips are better.
I managed to finish it, but I did feel ill for a little bit after eating – it just didn’t work. The menu said that the wrap came with a choice of garlic sauce, mayonnaise or hummus – and as I didn’t state a preference when ordering I think they just gave me both. The salad was in short measure, there were chips I wasn’t expecting/didn’t ask for/weren’t listed on the ingredients, and there wasn’t much meat – it just was not all that pleasant.
Thing is, I guess I’m more disappointed than anything else – I tend to avoid places I either know or suspect will be bad, and I was really looking forward to eating out of here. And, do you know what? I will be back, because I want to give this place the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a one off. Maybe the usual guy was on holiday, or on the sick, who knows? Certainly the reviews on Google suggest a worrying trend – recent reviews have been very bad, and the older ones are full of praise – suggesting a change of ownership? Who knows – I’ll give them another shot – might go for the pizza next time.
The search for the “best in the west” sadly continues…
EDIT: Just revisited the menu from their website:
While I still maintain that potato has no place in a wrap, I have to hold my hands up here – if it was on the menu, I can’t moan. Wasn’t offered sauce of my choice though, mind you…
Byblos Cafe, Park Road, Glasgow