While Glasgow has plenty to offer when it comes to celebrating home-grown Scottish fare, oftentimes the most exciting food in the city is a product of our rich and multi-cultural communities.

Bringing a taste of her own heritage to the table is Noor, 23, owner and director of Middle Eastern-inspired cafe Toom.

Glasgow Times:

Pictured: Noor opened Toom in January 2021

Telling the story of the key ingredient which gave the shop its name she said: “Toom means garlic in Arabic, and that was my whole idea for opening the shop. I wanted to sell Lebanese style sandwiches.

“In Lebanon, we have something called the Toom sandwich which is made with chicken, garlic and chips.

“The signature ingredient is the garlic dip that we make.

"We started off just selling those, but soon realised that there was a demand for other authentic dishes and we would have to expand our menu.
“Two or three different sandwich options just weren’t enough.”

Toom now serves a small but diverse menu full of authentic Middle Eastern dishes like Baba Ghannoush, Lamb Skewers or Lebanese coffee delicately spiced with cardamom.

Glasgow Times:

Pictured: Customers recommend trying Lebanese coffee with coconut milk

Encouraged by feedback from newly established regulars Noor now feels that the shop, which can be found on St George's road, has settled comfortably into its surroundings.

She said: “Most of our customers are Scottish. They love our food and we find that they often end up coming back time and time again for their favourites. Everyone is so supportive.

“We’re very open to customers input and try to remove that barrier so that they know if they make a comment, we’ll take it on board.

“We’re trying to add something to the community rather than solely making money.
“I opened the shop because I wanted to introduce people to my culture and let them try Lebanese or Arabic food, not because I was looking to make a profit.”

Glasgow Times:

Pictured: The Toom Wrap made with chicken, chips and garlic sauce

It’s Noor’s strong ties to her family’s home country that lie at the heart of her work giving the shop a relaxed and welcoming feel.

She said: “My family live in Lebanon. I usually go to visit them about once a year but because of covid that’s not really been possible.

“I do bring my all my recipes from there though, my houmous, for example, is my Grandmas recipe.

“A lot of what we serve in the shop comes from the same recipes that we would be using at home.

"It’s working so far, people seem to like it.”

Glasgow Times:

Pictured: Noor serves authentic spiced coffee

It's not just the family's savoury recipes that have people flocking to Toom.

On the menu, you'll also find indulgent sweets like vegan-friendly pistachio baklava or Knefeh a traditional baked snack made with cheese.

Noor explained: “People especially love our desserts. 

"At first people seem a bit put off by the idea of cheese in our Knefeh, but it doesn’t taste anything like the savoury stuff at all.

“It’s layered with sweet cheese, then there’s vermicelli on the top and bottom which is crunchy and it’s finished off with orange blossom water and syrup.

“It’s beautiful and very aromatic, it sells really quickly in the shop.

“We call it the ‘Toom Breaker’ because after you have your garlic wrap you have a piece of Knefeh to break the Toom."

Pictured: A Lebanese graphic designer provides all the signature graphics

There's certainly plenty to see while you're enjoying your Toom Breaker as the interior of the shop also showcases a curation of Arabic pop art made by talented creatives from the region.

Following this arty theme, beautifully detailed graphics are used throughout social media posts bringing them to life and giving the shop it's distinctive branding, something which Noor had always envisioned for Toom.

She said: “The person behind all of our graphics and social media posts is an architecture student from Lebanon who actually still lives there. We’ve only ever met over zoom.

“When I decided to open Toom I knew what I had in mind but I’m not a very arty myself.

“It was at a time when a lot of people in Lebanon were looking for jobs so I thought why don’t I just try to help someone who already knows my culture and what I’m looking for.

“He’s very innovative and intelligent. He picked up on what I wanted straight away and got started.

“I’m very happy with the work he’s done and hopefully he’ll come to Scotland soon to visit the shop in person.”

Glasgow Times:

Pictured: The perfect space to watch the world go by

Having opened during an immensely challenging time for the hospitality industry, Noor now looks forward to finding out what the future holds for the cafe and its customers without the threat of covid restrictions.

She said: “We opened initially in January, in the middle of lockdown and then closed for a few months while we worked out some staffing issues and bought new equipment.

"We don’t really know what it’s like to run the business without lockdown, but we've been open fully again for two weeks now and things are starting to pick up.

“Next week we’re planning on hosting a re-opening day so that people can come down and have a taste of our menu.

“We're really excited for that because way I see it, Toom is built on customer feedback."

For more information about Toom click here.