The Italian Caffe Enoteca invited me to stop by this weekend and sample the delights of the restaurant while checking out the Merchant City Festival (30th July – 7th August).

The Albion Street restaurant is light, bright and I received a warm welcome from the team when I arrived for lunch. Enoteca is an Italian word which translates literally as “wine repository” and that is clearly reflected in the Italian Caffe’s extensive wine list. The list contains more than 34 wines from various regions of Italy and most of them are available by the glass. This is great news if, like me, you want the freedom of being able to match wine to your food without committing to a bottle.

Italian Caffe

The Italian Caffe has a great selection of small plates to choose from including meat, seafood, pasta, pizza and risotto dishes (check out their Facebook page and Twitter for special deals). My dining buddy and I opted for two dishes each – langoustines, smoked haddock risotto, pork medallions and a parma ham pizza.

Italian Caffe food

I was pleasantly surprised at how generously proportioned the ‘small plates’ were; two dishes were enough for a filling lunch. The langoustines in garlic butter were fresh and perfectly cooked. The risotto with haddock and asparagus was creamy and the smoked fish flavour really came through. The individual sized pizza had a light base which was topped with lots of parma ham, rocket and drizzled with olive oil.

Staff were engaging and attentive throughout the meal and made sure to check back on whether there was anything else we needed. Oh and the toilets were spotlessly clean!  Overall I really enjoyed my visit and would definitely return for lunch or dinner and to work my way through more of that gorgeous wine list!

The Italian Caffe also challenged me to see what I could get for £20 at the Merchant City Festival. The festival is running from now through to Sunday 7th August and has a programme packed full of street arts, music, theatre, comedy, food & drink and family activities.

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There’s lots of fantastic market stalls selling everything from street food and sweet treats to hand made arts and crafts. It’s easy to spend an hour perusing the stalls while soaking up the festival atmosphere. So what did I pick up for £20?

  • A beautiful forest green scarf for £5. There were lots of lovely accessories to choose from!
  • Scottish cheese from the Inverloch Cheese Company, based in Campbeltown Argyll – £4.50
  • Lemongrass and Ginger Beard Oil from Twa Burds, a Glasgow based maker of artisan soap company – £6.99 This was a gift for Mr GvF and it smells devine!
  • Some greetings cards. I picked up a wedding day card for £3.50 on a stall featuring Scottish themed cards. I also got a cute ‘Belter’ card from the Marseille/Glasgow inspired pop-up PoundShop which has lots of quirky products priced at £1, £3 or £5.

My haul from the stalls

With the number of free events in the Merchant City Festival programme, you could have a great day out for nothing, but here are three more ways that I would choose to spend £20:

  1. Celebrate the music of David Bowie and Roxy Music with an evening featuring the artists they have inspired. Includes Bowie and Roxy Music themes karaoke and face painting. (Tickets £15.00 – Saturday 6th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/vintage/Pages/Oh!-You-Pretty-Things.aspx
  1. Enjoy a guided walking tour of iconic Merchant City venues with Glasgow Music City Tours and learn about the history of the Glasgow music scene. (Tickets £10.00 Thursday 4th – Sunday 7th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=d3b74de9-7a99-4ee9-b1a2-a63400a1058b Then stop by the Vintage DJ Bus on Bell Street for a refreshment at the bar while listening to some retro tunes (Saturday 6th August).
  1. Roll up, roll up, the circus has come to town! This circus variety show is set to dazzle with spectacular aerial feats and acts hailing from both sides of the Atlantic. (Tickets £12.00 – Sunday 7th August)  http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=fb5a793c-96d3-4641-8371-a63300bf7de6