Tinderbox's new branch

  • The List
  • 3 January 2007

Tinderbox tripping

Barry Shelby finds himself nearly eight miles high after downing a large latte at Glasgow’s new Tinderbox.

My notes read ‘eye popping mental gymnastics.’ What this really means is a borderline hallucinogenic experience. A legal one, I hasten to add, courtesy of the new Tinderbox at Ingram and Montrose streets in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Can coffee do that? Not normally, one supposes. But on a mostly empty stomach and introduced into the bloodstream of a person 1) whose caffeine intake is a mere trickle compared to its former rate and 2) who felt on the verge of succumbing to a low-level virus, anything is presumably possible. So, about 45 minutes after downing a large latte, having completed a perfectly sensible conversation with management, things began to go a bit wonky towards the end of another initially level-headed discussion with Krista Blake, who runs the eclectic art shop, Hitherto, at the rear of the recently opened progressive coffee house.

Tinderbox’s corporate owner, the independent Clydeside roaster Mathew Algie, boasts a coffee it calls Atomic : ‘full bodied 100% Arabica espresso with hints of caramel and chocolate,’ it says. ‘A great espresso that’s particularly good in long drinks like cappuccino or latte.’ Perhaps this radioactive bean is responsible for launching me into a pseudo-psychedelic reverie.

Before I lost the plot, however, I managed to deduce that much of what has made the first Tinderbox a success on Byres Road in the West End is apparent here as well. The gorgeous, semi-retro design of Graven Images complements the split-level space, with a mezzanine above the barista’s station and the signature booth seat towards the back.

But, unlike the original Tinderbox, this is more of a destination venue rather than one at the heart of a community. To provide some added lures, it is licensed, selling premium beers and some wine. More intriguingly, it also peddles some hot dishes delivered daily from the vaunted Delizique deli in Hyndland. These can include Thai salad and Portuguese tarts, to complement the Tinderbox range of up-market sandwiches with fresh fillings, put together at the company’s production kitchen at Moka café.

Then there’s the shop in a rear room with a piano that doubles as sofa lounge in the evenings. Blake (partner of Teenage Fanclub’s Norman, who has done a DJing night here) has the mix right with works from Project Ability, the odd off-centre gift (such as dolls by Judith Johnstone, who did the BBC’s Top of the Popettes) and new works from local artists. She has ideas for more musically inclined evenings, as well as other ‘arts-based’ events.

For me, alas, such fun might turn into a summer-of-love revisited, given the impact of Tinderbox lattes. I’d better stick to decaf.

Tinderbox, 14 Ingram Street, 0141 552 6907

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