This years Section 33 pop up restaurant is being held for 5 nights in the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall’s, Argyle Street, Glasgow. Launching last year with a pop up restaurant in Govanhill Baths, Section-33 is headed by Kyle Steel. Kyle not only has a wealth of experience in the restaurant business but also a heart of gold- with a proportion of the profits from these events going towards the restoration fund of the Panopticon and food banks. Last years event raised £2000 for the Govanhill Baths restoration appeal.
I was at the Govanhill pop up last year and due to the quality of food and unique location of the event I was not surprised to hear that 1200 tickets have been snapped up for this current pop up- a sell out! Section 33 also know how to create suspense, with the location for this pop up restaurant only being revealed 4 days in advance in the Herald newspaper.
The Panopticon is a well kept secret. It is the worlds oldest surviving music hall. Opening in the 1850’s it has played host to a number of famous acts, Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy launched his career there, and it was a music hall for normal people of the time. It is a hidden gem situated east of TJ Hughes on Argyle Street, above Mitchell’s Amusement Arcade and whilst it is faded compared to its glory days it is well worth a visit. Please click here to read its fascinating history and browse the numerous events it still holds today.
Anyway, back to the main event. How did Section 33 score:
Service 5/5: The service was polite and friendly. All staff had a great knowledge of the food and I was very impressed by the organisation of the staff considering this was the opening night in a venue unknown to them. I was even more impressed when I heard that the licence for the venue had only been finalised at 5pm tonight- I cannot imagine the stress levels at 4.30pm but none of that showed. Kyle, the lead of Section 33, also toured the tables asking for feedback and was very open to all of it, which I think is great.
Food 4/5: The food is served as small plates. There are 13 main dishes to pick from, with 4 vegetarian options. It is recommended that you have 2-3 plates per diner. There were 5 of us so what else could we do but order one of everything- not much arm twisting required I tell you! The food was delicious and creatively served- with coconut shells as bowls.
Our collective favourite dishes were the Buttermilk Fried Pheasant with BBQ Beans, the Mussel Popcorn with Black Garlic Mayonnaise (that mayo was so good I could have bathed in it!!!) and the Truffle Arancini with Mushroom Ketchup. Delicious. So much so that we ordered seconds.
For pudding I would highly recommend the Giant Salted Caramel Profiterole.
This was all washed down with a Rum and Rosemallow Cocktail-which included watermelon in its ingredients-fabulous!!
The only criticism that I would give about the food was the inconsistency in portion sizes across dishes. However, on speaking to Kyle when he visited our table he reflected that a number of tables had told him this and he is going to increase the portion sizes for the smaller dishes from now on.
Atmosphere 5/5: Be warned the Panopticon does not have any heating and as winter has well and truly reached Glasgow it was cold. Luckily Section33 had tweeted about this so I was prepared with a woolly cardigan and scarf. I did not feel I could mark down due to this as 1) we were warned, 2) the fun of this night is eating great food in an unusual location not a well heated restaurant and 3) blankets were available at the door for chilly diners. Otherwise the atmosphere was great. The Panopticon looked resplendent decked in fairy lights and there was live music to accompany our meal.
Price £££ For an average of 4 main dishes, 1 pudding and 1 cocktail the bill came to £36. I think this was overall value for money as the food was delicious and you have to expect to pay a premium for the location, entertainment and experience. Setting up a pop-up restaurant in the worlds oldest music hall must be no easy or cheap feat.
Even the bill tray was stylish…
Overall Score 14/15: Unusual and fun experience. Great way to explore different and unknown locations in Glasgow, with some great food to go with it. Section 33 are hoping to do these events more often and I think they will do fantastically if they continue in this vein. Have a look at Section 33 website here for details of upcoming events.
I would like to thank my friend Zoe for all of the better photos on this blog. Please follow her on instagram here