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Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Panevino, 1075 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8LZ
The Finnieston, 1125 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3

I’ve said it before and I’ll do so again; Finnieston’s stretch of Argyle Street is the area setting the pace in Glasgow bar nightlife. Every few months something new appears. Not just new premises but a fresh concept. A recent outing for The Muse and I confirmed this.

The latest joint, Panevino, was one of our planned destinations. But before that we returned again to The Finnieston, a place I reviewed last year. It continues to trade well and for all the right reasons. Pleasing ambience, serious bartending and fresh seafood all impress. And, I believe, one of their staff, Dean Evans received a commendation for mixology at the recent SLTN Awards.

Any bar that deploys decanters and serves absinthe will sit high on my top list and shows commitment to decent booze and correct serving of liquor. They hand you a large esoteric menu of their latest cocktail specialities and I picked an Abisette (absinthe etc etc etc) while The Muse opted for the litmus test that is a Bloody Mary. Mine reminded me of a Vodka Martini for sheer alcoholic potency. Enjoyable but portentous. The BM, meanwhile, was spicy and tangy, the boxes that need ticking.

Panevino is just a hundred yards along Argyle Street and sits in a small unit beneath flats built on the site of the massive Crème de la Crème Indian restaurant - itself having inhabited an old cinema. The original intention was, I think, to take the larger corner unit but for some reason this was changed.

The man who would know why is Remo Crolla, owner of the Little Italy pizzeria on Byres Road. Panevino has been his pet project for a few years and present-day Finnieston seemingly the ideal locale in which to realise the plans.

More sophisticated, smoother, sultrier and minimalist than its sister venue this is a place for evening drinks rather than morning or afternoon coffees. It is an enoteca a wine library, and browsing is certainly allowed. There are over 50 available by the glass, dispensed from their very expensive glass gantry. Nice for those who enjoy variety above all else but can’t afford a new bottle to match every whim.

For even more choice, wine flytes are planned, allowing 50ml samples of wines from areas, grape types, bouquet etc A bit like the whisky flytes available at, amongst other places, Corinthian’s Bootleg bar. Panevino are also stressing their cocktail provision and it’s a place where you can sup on hard to find Italian beers like Ichnusa, Tipopils and Gradisca at least one of which is new to me. I had an Ichnusa which was a bit too weak for me but The Muse was happy with her particular choice of digestif an Italian brandy.

The joint has two levels, the small upstairs more suited for groups of four to six but for couples or singles downstairs round the U-shaped bar is best. A marbled split-level counter from which to enjoy prosciutto, marinated asparagus, slices of Italian cheese, salami, salsiccella and many other nibbles accompanied by wafer-thin biscuit, beer preserves and honeycomb.

It sounds harmonious and it was. Food and drink complimenting instead of conflicting, as they often do in the UK. Unnecessary distinctions between pubs and restaurants don’t help. What would you call Panevino, for instance? Café/Bar/Restaurant/Wine Bar/Bistro? Maybe enoteca is the closest description, anyway, coming from abroad.

Unfortunately, due to its location Panevino is unable to match the grotto-like beauty of Divino Enotoca’s courtyard setting in the Edinburgh Old Town but then Glasgow venues often suffer in comparison to those of the rival city just because of architectural history. However, a lack of any outdoor component may tell against Panevino come warmer days.

In the meantime there are few more civilised places to sit and enjoy the dual delights of food and drink than at Panevino’s bar. And, pleasantly, this sophistication doesn’t come at a premium because pricing has followed the reasonable rates of Little Italy.

After our modest repast The Muse and I headed out of the district completely because Finnieston still lacks any post midnight joints but despite this gap it remains an area that attracts epicurean, if not yet bacchanalian, followers keen to find the next great thing.