Tim Hortons


SO WE queued and we queued, and while we queued we watched some kids across the road at the teen hangout beside McDonald's a-shouting and a-swearing, and while we queued we cringed for the tourists behind us also watching this.

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Then we queued some more and then…then suddenly we could see in the window. At the menu and the prices.

And, well, it was like a veil being lifted from the eyes: so this is what the fuss is all about.

This is why we are all standing here on a Sunday afternoon to get into a Canadian coffee chain that from the outside, and actually even more so when we get the food, is like Burger King for doughnuts.

It’s simply surprisingly, and I mean genuinely surprisingly, cheap.

Crispy chicken sandwiches under £4, coffee just over a £1, those Timbits, little balls of fried dough being knocked out at a tenner for a box of 40.

We queue some more, then we order from staff who understandably, given the jostling, hustling Glasgow fun atmosphere inside are almost babbling with the drama of it all.

“People waited overnight on the first day,” one guy says sonorously. “We’re down to three flavours of Timbits now,” another adds breathlessly.”

Then we queue some more. This time with receipts in our hands. Waiting for numbers to be called. While I try to work out if any of the many, many staff behind the counter are actually Canadian or if one or two have been caught up in the moment and are now speaking in that brilliant Glasvegas drawl that you only ever hear on Radio Clyde.

Finally, our numbers are up and we take our food downstairs and pull the fast food style wrappings off and think: my goodness – is this it?

To say this is ordinary is, frankly, even by fast food standards, a massive understatement.

And I will actually come back before 7am the next day just to order a sausage and egg muffin, £2.29 by the way, when it’s a lot quieter, but weirdly still kinda busy. Just to be fair to them, and to see what the stuff is like when the opening rush is over.

Yes, that pale, pasty, sloppy, supremely unattractive (and cunningly small) sausage and egg sandwich will be just as unappetising as the pale, dry, pasty and supremely underwhelming chicken sandwich we have this afternoon. This is probably sub-McDonald’s.

Still, there’s coffee and the Timbits to sample, though there are only three flavours left today. We try the messy mini-doughnuts with strawberry jam injected into them, and the hard chocolatey things which seem to taste of marzipan. They’re, uh, OK, but I wouldn’t cross the road for one.

The chilli, too, is OK. We ordered two little bowls of it, pale under-fired panini included, and it's possibly the best thing here.

But the steak wrap? In its cardboard tube? Er, small.

Now, we’ve had to ask the staff downstairs, who are perfectly pleasant young guys, if there is cutlery, and salt and pepper. This place is so new nobody seems quite sure whether there should be any of these things available at the counter.

And, oh, there’s a poster on the wall saying that only three people in the whole wide world know the exact blend that goes into Tim Horton’s coffee.

Crikey. Are there more than three people that would want to know?

I’m not saying it’s bad coffee. It’s far better marketing though.

I wonder if there are Canadians somewhere looking at the mad fuss about the Glasgow opening and scratching their heads in amazement. We do love an opening.

I’ll give Tim Hortons this: They have ticked the only two boxes that seem to matter in the eating-out world right now. Price, plus some good marketing flim-flam. Get the two of them right and you’ll make big, big money.

For a while anyway.

Tim Hortons

184 Argyle St


Menu: Very, very ordinary sandwiches but all the fuss is about those tiny Timbit doughnuts and coffee. 3/5

Atmosphere: Feels a bit like the Frankenstein offspring of Burger King meets Greggs. 2/5

Service: Self-service and given Glasgow loves the fun of a good buzzy opening they were under siege so hard to tell. 3/5

Price: Their best bit. Dirt cheap coffee, doughnuts and sandwiches. Very cheap. 4/5

Food: Proof that with the right level of flim flam and the right prices you can do well. Awful hot sandwiches. Ordinary. 4/10

Total: 16/30