SWG3 is a collection of studios and event spaces that has become home to artists, musicians and emerging businesses.

It’s a community that is starting to regain its place as a focus for local creative energy. Enter Go Sangatsu, the new resident restaurant in the bright, open, minimalist dining room of Acid Bar within the complex, overlooking the outside yard of the venue.

What a time to make a debut! The new project from popular Kelvingrove bar and restaurant Five March opens today ahead of the SWG3’s transformation into The New York Times Climate Hub for COP26 in November.

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What happens if President Biden, the Dalai Lama and the Queen wander in looking for casual dinner and cocktails during the international summit? Owner Joanna Nethery laughs as her business partner, chef Peter Mackay, says without missing a beat: “I’ve already cooked for four presidents while I was working in Australia - and the Queen - so I’m ready for whoever walks in the door. We’re just thinking about getting it ready to open.”

Like Five March, the menu will feature small plates and there will be a matching selection of cocktails. Joanna says they have a free-form approach to cuisine. Peter says: “There’s a Japanese influence, then there’s a lot of Five March in the mix. We refuse to sit in a bracket and be restricted. We don’t want to operate within certain parameters where there are rules on what ingredients you can or cannot use.”

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow diners have an increasingly adventurous palate and dishes are appearing on menus across the city that have never been seen before. There’s an element of risk in trying something new but Peter says it is more about trust in the kitchen, something that must be earned, Joanna adds.

“I read the reviews and I look around town. Some people just want to do the exact same thing every day. Other people take a chance and that’s exactly what we do. You are always a bit anxious about whether something new will work - it’s nerve-racking - but I have confidence in what we can come up with as a kitchen.”

Glasgow Times:

Peter worked in Australia for a total of 16 years, spent time in restaurants in New York and toured with bands as a chef. One of the agents for change in Glasgow restaurants has been restaurant staff returning with new influences after working abroad.

“The food in Australia is on another level. It’s a different industry, they are a bit further on. I was surprised when I came back and I could see the standard had risen, we were catching up on the rest of the world.

“We are competitive in Glasgow and we all want to create higher standards. It’s a positive. It raises expectations and you can see it in the types of restaurants that have emerged in the last few years.”

Glasgow Times:

Joanna is friends with Meryl Gilbert and Mutley, part of the team behind SWG3, and there had been discussions about opportunities to work together. She felt now was the right time for a restaurant residency that will stretch into next year.

“It’s very exciting to create something new and have people try our food right in the centre of the West End at a venue that is full of creativity. I think the cuisine lends itself to the space so it’s a good match.”

What are the dishes on the menu that will grab the attention?: “Carrot katsu!” Joanna says. “It’s deep fried for a start. You say katsu curry in Glasgow and people get excited. We are also going to do a dressed market fish and that arriving at your table looks absolutely spectacular.”

Sound of the City

A hometown show is imbued with an added frisson of excitement and expectation. Glasgow’s bands are well represented on the three stages for TRNSMT in September, ready to seize attention away from headliners Liam Gallagher, Courteneers and The Chemical Brothers.

Consider the enigmatic indie-pop of Lucia & The Best Boys or the flamboyant goth-glam of Walt Disco, two examples of the assertive sound of the city.

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Lucia Fairfull says a festival gig is an opportunity for your music to reach new people: “I feel like some music festivals only attract a certain group of people, but because TRNSMT is in Glasgow city centre it is accessible for younger people and you end up with a broader approach. There’s space for lots of type of music and that let’s us play to new fans.”

There’s diversity in the local music scene, she says, and a sense of camaraderie. “Having Glasgow as a creative base allows you to express yourself, not every artist has that community. Most of my close friends are musicians, I don’t think any of us make the same type of music but we still have similar tastes that have been translated differently. We understand and root for each other.”

When Walt Disco emerge on stage at TRNSMT they’ll have the support of local music fans, and it’s a chance to share a performance with friends and family: “It’s something you can tell your gran. It’s a festival that’s on telly” says singer James Potter.

After a period of introspection over lockdown, James claims a new energy from being on stage: “We’ve never had a problem grabbing the attention of an audience. We’re so ready for this.”

Other hometown highlights at the festival include The Ninth Wave, Gallus, Spingburn’s Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream fame, Twin Atlantic, Dylan John Thomas and Saint PHNX.  

The Snuts will also have the chance to sing “I love the way you say Glasgow” on the main stage - a music video for their paean to the city was filmed here over lockdown.

Singer Jack Cochrane told me: “The song Glasgow was one of the first demos we ever put out years and years ago. It was so important to people who had supported us that it made it onto our debut album. We just wanted to pay homage to a city that’s done so much for us as a band and been so accepting of us.”