Into the woodlands: An exclusive preview of forthcoming vegetarian restaurant

Taste Magazine spoke with Colin Campbell, co-owner of Sylvan, an exciting new vegetarian restaurant opening shortly in Glasgow, and we asked about what to expect when doors open on June 18th.

Are you seeking a new vegetarian dining experience in Glasgow? Then Sylvan may be exactly what you are looking for when their doors open next month.

Situated in Woodlands Road in the heart of Glasgow's west end, Sylvan - which quite literally means 'from the woodlands' - is a hybrid of ideas. Part vegetarian restaurant, part bar, part craft bottle shop, Sylvan is dedicated to providing all of these elements, supported by high quality, hospitable service and a daily changing menu.

The masterminds behind this new experience are Colin Campbell and Jake Martell. Colin is the co-owner of the Blue Arrow Jazz Club as well as the former owner of the Hug and Pint and Vin Cru natural wine bar. On the other hand, Jake was the former head chef of the Hug and Pint and has worked in London kitchens for several years.

The two had always discussed the idea of one day forming their own bar and restaurant and when Covid-19 hit last year, Colin and Jake were given the time to bring their ambitions into reality.

That ambition, now named Sylvan, aims to provide high-quality, vegetarian dishes in a relaxed informal setting, that are designed to be shared amongst friends and family. Both Colin and Jake enjoy the idea of sharing dishes with others and vice-versa so they were keen to incorporate this aspect into the new restaurant.

"Thats the thing we like when we go out to eat" says Colin Campbell, co-owner of Sylvan.

"Not only is it a nice way to eat in terms of getting to try different things but its a communal thing where people come together to share food, its really nice I think."

Another large part of Sylvan's ethos is providing wine that is organic and biodynamic to customers. Colin first fostered his love for this type of wine when operating the Vin Cru natural wine bar which opened in the tail end of 2019. Not only do they lack the chemicals that can be found in your average wine but they come form independent producers that share the same ideals that Sylvan represents.

"Thankfully a part of that Vin Cru project will live on in here [Sylvan] to a degree. I've learned to love that type of wine. It's basically wine with less intervention. They are from independent producers as well, a lot of small producers most of the time. They are usually partners or families that do it, I just think that's nicer. That's what we do, we are just a small team here. Dealing with independent producers can be more expensive but that means we are buying into their ethos as well."

Prior to the upcoming launch of Sylvan, the duo also operated under the brand called "Hen of the Woods”, a daytime kitchen that operated at “The Glad Cafe” in the south side for a few years.

However, when that came to an end as a result of the pandemic in 2020, the brand changed gears and created "Hen of the Woods Dine at Home" which launched at the start of this year. This service provided restaurant-style food delivered straight to your door and would help influence the type of dishes that customers will see when Sylvan launches.

"It gave us a chance to work on food and drink again and get a bit of income. We resurrected the project and called it Hen of The Woods Dine at Home and started doing restaurant-style food that is a precursor to what we will make here. It was a weekly menu that we put out on a Sunday and we delivered Friday, Saturday. It was eight dishes on each menu, the first seven or eight menus were all completely different and then we started bringing back the more popular dishes so it was a good way to learn what was popular. It was a weekly changing menu because it was a delivery thing but in here [Sylvan], because we are open every day it will be more likely a daily changing menu, it helps keeps things fresh and stops wastage."

With doors opening soon, both Colin and Jake are excited to get back out there and welcome back customers. While the hospitality industry has suffered significantly in the wake of Covid-19, the launch of Sylvan will represent a return to form for the duo as well as the city of Glasgow which has faced additional time in level 3 restrictions.

"We are looking forward to it immensely, its been over a year since we've worked in service and for me its been longer because I moved into a different job role so I'm really looking forward to getting back out there, behind the bar and working on the floor. That's something I've not done in quite a while, being there day to day on the ground, in reflection I think its very important and I think it will really benefit us."

"It's also great because it will signify that if we can do this then that will signify the time that everyone in Scotland is going back to doing this again. Hospitality is so important to us and its really important to Glasgow as well. It's all about putting a smile on someone's face. That's the transaction really."

If you are as excited about Sylvan as we are, be sure to reserve a table via their website for when their doors open on June 18th.

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