Cottonrake Bakery Cafe


TO Glasgow’s west end then, in a hurry. The new Cottonrake Bakery Cafe closes at 5pm after all. Congestion, traffic jams, cones absolutely everywhere, enough stopped-dead time to wonder if Glasgow roadworks ever actually repair the roads – they certainly never repaint those almost-invisible-now yellow boxes. 

But eventually, I find a space, park, slalom through heavy pedestrian traffic on Great Western Road – schoolkids, students, dawdling hand-holders – and whoosh. Here it is. 

In the door, still wide open, double-take. “Any bakes?” I ask the counter lady. “In the window,” she says. Aha. Out I go. Hmm, not much choice, and seems to be, somewhat surprisingly, from Freedom Bakery. 

“Do you, er, have any Cottonrake baking?” I ask, once back inside. “Umm, nope,” comes the nonchalant reply. “So, hang on, you are Cottonrake Cafe but you don’t sell baking from the Cottonrake bakery? Strange?” I suggest. “Not really,” comes the reply. “We are not the Cottonrake Cafe. That’s just down the road.” 

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How we laughed. Well, they did. I was already out the door, into the river of drifters, bifters, moochers, smoochers and general pavement-cloggers. Fast-forward a full 10 minutes. I’m actually in the right place. It looks identical to the last place. Which I could use in my defence except I have never seen either before. 

But now … I stand at a glass counter shouting, because the super-tall shelving effectively blocks all sounds, to the tall server dude on the other side. “What’s that one?” I ask (zero labelling incidentally). “Brioche,” comes the response with muffle, muffle, muffle. And this? Salted caramel, muffle, muffle. And the cookie? “Vegan.” I hear this one. Vegan? “That’s now a flavour?” I think – but don’t say. 

One of each please. No, not the vegan flavour, the other cookie, the glistening one. And that frangipane thing please. Peppermint tea too, I need a shot of that. 

OK, moving on. I have a seat. At a table.  This place is semi-full and frankly, not quite semi-decorated. I’m assuming the shopfitters are coming back to finish off the grey plaster work, the swoops of workmen’s plastic groove tools. But do they even need to decorate? Being Cottonrake? Just open it and they will come. By now I have eaten the brioche. Frankly? Delicious. 

The brioche itself is so packed with flavour and texture that the parmesan, pecorino, bechamel, fried oyster and brown mushrooms atop are almost unnecessary. I enjoy them anyway.  This tart that I assume is pear frangipane – shortcrust pastry all salty-buttery and flaky-light, a deep almondy, crumbly filling surrounding little islands of fruit – turns out to be quince.

I learn this when I ask a very nice waitress, who stops by to clear some of my debris. “It’s my second day,” she says while we try to work out what I ate from scatterings of crumbs. She seeks advice. Comes back to tell me that the proper chewy, golden-syrupy cookie I just demolished was: white chocolate and pistachio. Ah. 

OK, I still have a whole, picture-perfect, sprinkle-topped, chocolate tart sitting here. The pastry is surprisingly thick looking, weirdly chocolate coloured, the filling seeming to be some sort of ganache-like gloop. Honestly? I don’t fancy this. But … wrong.  

The pastry is, I think, possibly buckwheat – crumbly anyway, savoury almost – is that chocolate in it too? The gloop turns out to be textured and whipped, salted caramel and is, as my mother used to say, extremely more-ish. 

So far I’ve tasted enough handmade, artisan food for four people and still haven’t even spent £20. If you’re not familiar with the Cottonrake Bakery, I should explain. The baking is outstanding, levels above the generic stuff available in so many places. They have had a little bakery shop further down Great Western Road, across from the old Coopers.

It’s great but the seating is so tight, that I rarely bother going because it’s usually an awkward wait. In here: plenty of space. And … all the good stuff.    

Cottonrake Bakery Cafe

497 Great Western Road


Open: seven days til 5pm (4pm Sunday)

Menu: Breads, brioches, sandwiches, fabulous cakes and tarts with the artisan stamp of a proper craft bakery writ large all over them. 4/5

Service: The counter area needs a rethink if you ask me, glass shelves in wrong place making ordering difficult, but staff very pleasant. 4/5

Price: It’s baking at the highest standard yet for the quality the prices are relatively modest. Tart, from £4 to £5, that sizeable brioche £4.50, pot of tea at £2.60 4/5

Atmosphere: Frankly, the food does all the talking. I’m assuming they haven’t finished the decoration because otherwise they’ve gone for super- plain. Spacious at least. 3/5

Food: I loved the quality and flavours of the brioche, the quince tart was stunning right down to the pastry shell. Very good. 9/10 

Total 24/30