“ Address: 321 Hope Street / Glasgow / Lanarkshire / G2 3PT / Scotland „
I love popping in here for a bite to eat it was a great wee find. Really nice place to go if your meeting up with friends in Glasgow city centre for a coffee or a bite to eat or even a wee break from shopping to rest your feet. Not to busy like most other places during the day and they sell a nice selection of things to eat and drink. It has a very studenty feel to it and its rustic furnishings create an informal, relaxed and homely atmosphere. The staff are very friendly too. It is a bit different to the usual city centre eatieries, and it feels more of a west end type of place and would probably be jam packed all the time if it was in the west end of the city. Its near the Theatre Royal so handy if you are going there and can get busy pre theatre. Would recommend this place to anyone they do a great burger not what you expect from this kind of place its full of surprises. There is a decent and reasonable priced wine list and the house red is nice (£12.75 bottle, £3.35 glass) and the draft lager is chilled and refreshing so my friend said . There is a good selection of malt whiskies and Ginger Beer and Lemonade also feature on their menu.
We first went to Café Hula because of its proximity to the Theatre Royal - it is literally across the road - and we wanted a quick bite to eat pre-show. We went back because the food and service were so good.
Café Hula décor is rustic; with its rough hewn wooden tables and chairs and plentiful foliage it is perfect for relaxed and casual dining. They have a couple of large farmhouse kitchen-style tables, ideal for dining with a larger group of friends. There is a glass-fronted mezzanine level with additional seating upstairs - this restaurant is larger than first impressions might suggest.
They are close to the University and mindful of this they offer lunchtime deals and an extensive made-to-order sandwich and salad takeaway service. However, they do attract the pre-theatre crowd in their droves too and we have even spotted the odd thespian here too (including John Savident (Coronation "Ashley, I say, Ashley" Street) who was starring in HMS Pinafore).
I am lead to believe that Café Hula is run by a husband and wife team, both of whom operate mainly back of house, although it has one of those fairly open dining/kitchen areas. It is a bustling and busy place but with a relaxing buzz; it has been busy on each occasion that we have eaten here (although that has been either Friday or Saturday early evening) and I would definitely recommend booking at the weekend to avoid disappointment.
We have only ever eaten here pre-theatre and each time it has been a very positive and enjoyable experience.
The staff are mainly young, and are enthusiastic, friendly and efficient. Some are from overseas, possibly students in Glasgow, and their English is superb.
Sometimes it is the small things that make the difference and I do like the fact that the complimentary basket of bread comes ready buttered with "real" butter and that a jug of iced water, complete with lime and large sprigs of mint, and glasses is brought to your table as a matter of course. And if the bread isn't actually homemade on the premises, it is from a small bakery somewhere - it certainly isn't your bog-standard supermarket loaf. The tables are clean and wiped and the cutlery and glassware pristine.
And more importantly, the food is excellent.
I have sampled the Chicken and Chorizo Stew, a hearty dish full of flavour with red peppers, olives and coriander (£7.95). The chicken was tender and tasty and the sauce seasoned perfectly to my taste - it was all I could do to stop myself licking the bowl! On one occasion my portion was light on chorizo but with a dish like this I guess it is just your luck sometimes.
Mr Carcraig is a big fan of the Hula Burger (£6.95). Served with roasted potatoes, a delicious red onion relish and salad, it is a large homemade beef burger in a bun. After much pleading that I really did need to taste it for research purposes, he did reluctantly pass a morsel across the table for my delectation. Mmmmm. Tender and juicy; I can confirm that the burger is indeed very tasty too.
I have also tried the Penne Pasta Daily Special (£6.95) here but was less enamoured with that. Although accompanied with ample sausage and spinach, I found the dish a little dry and the pasta a tiny bit undercooked. Someone else in our party raved about the same dish - I suppose sometimes these things come down to personal taste.
Probably my favourite dish here was the Mushroom Risotto (£6.50). Creamy, tender, but with just enough bite to the rice, this was a vegetarian meal that almost tasted meaty, such was the intensity of the flavour from the mushrooms. The risotto is a special which varies on a daily basis. It is served with a tomato and olive salad.
Other dishes that we have tasted include the Thai Hula Fish Stew -superb - and the Moroccan Lamb Casserole - again very tasty and tender. (Both £8.95)
The salads also look superb, and I have debated ordering one of the gorgeous-looking salad bowls on a number of occasions only to change my mind when I hear the specials. They look delicious - a huge bowl with fresh ingredients and a good variety of salad leaves. (I'm not shy at peering at the food on the next table). I'll definitely try one the next time...
I have also sampled a couple of the homemade desserts which certainly didn't disappoint and were presented beautifully on huge white platters. The Lemon Tart served with Crème Fraiche was exquisite and only £2.95. And I want to try the Triple Chocolate Brownies next time we eat there!
There is a decent and reasonable priced wine list and I can confirm that the house red is very palatable (£12.75 bottle, £3.35 glass) and the draft lager (of which there is a limited choice) is chilled and refreshing. There is a good selection of malt whiskies and Fentiman's Ginger Beer and Lemonade also feature on their menu if that's your tipple instead.
We have always been going on to a show when we have eaten here but have never felt rushed to leave our table once our meal is complete. Newspapers and magazines are available for those who wish to linger over drinks or coffee.
The toilets are EXTREMELY compact, stashed away under the stairs, but they are clean and well appointed.
The only lapse in efficiency that we have experienced here is with the billing. Twice we have been undercharged! But because we are such honest people (and we want to continue to eat here!), we have pointed out the error on each occasion - and have been thanked profusely.
Although it is a little away from the main shopping centre of Glasgow, I still highly recommend Café Hula. For good value and superb home-cooked food, you just can't beat it. And if you are en route to the Theatre Royal, you really can't get any handier!
Café Hula, 321 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3PT
0141 353 1660
http://www.cafehula.co.uk or email the owners firstname.lastname@example.org or Rachel@cafehula.co.uk
The proprietors also own a café in Glasgow's West End - North Star, 108 Queen Margaret Drive
There are steps down from the front door to the seating area so bear this in mind if you have mobility issues.