THE COP26 circus rolled into town this week – with lots of celeb-spotting for the people of Glasgow.

The Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the biggest names to arrive in the city this week.

He must have been reading my Best of Glasgow book, published last November.

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Glasgow Times:

Peter McKenna, chef and co-owner of The Gannet restaurant on Argyle street, Finnieston, Glasgow

The restaurant chapter had The Gannet as number one in the city and the Hollywood actor was spotted emerging from there on Monday night before jauntily strolling through a scrum of well-wishers.

If he was there for the set menu fine dining experience he would have enjoyed dishes including Loch Creran oyster with a Vietnamese dressing, line caught mackerel, highland red deer and a dessert made with Bare Bones chocolate, who have recently opened a shop in the East End of the city.

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Glasgow Times:

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Meanwhile, the prime minister of the Bahamas was out to dinner at Brel on Ashton Lane.

Glasgow hasn’t been this animated in years. It’s been a surreal experience. Who would have thought comedian Limmy would be stuck on one side of Argyle Street, beside the Kelvingrove Cafe, while former US Senator John Kerry was on the other side of the road, moments after President Joe Biden had cruised by the local Greggs in a motorcade.

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Glasgow Times:

Greta Thunberg getting the chants going in Govan and Leonardo cutting about Maryhill on a Monday night. It’s once in a lifetime stuff.

The serious moments arrived early with heads of states making their opening pledges to save the world at the SEC.

In the gap between the statements from the prime ministers of India and of Australia, I thought about the remarkable nature of the fate of the planet being mapped out from the stage where I’m more used to seeing Mogwai or Lewis Capaldi.

The United Nations taking control of the bit of Glasgow I would visit with pals for the Christmas Carnival.

Of course, not everyone has welcomed Glasgow’s temporary position as capital of the world.

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The Christmas markets at George Square were cancelled due to the impact of Cop26 on access. There’s been an ongoing fascination with the price people have been paying for accommodation amidst stories of dastardly price gouging. Some nearby residents are appalled at the traffic diversions and their regular dog walking route being turned into the ultra-high security Blue Zone.

While the flurry of chauffeur driven cars and buzz of helicopters overhead gave Partick a bit of a Midtown Manhattan vibe, the city centre has seen passing traffic plunge.

Cafe and restaurant owners are considering reducing their opening hours as the anticipated bonanza of diplomatic dining has not materialised, offices have closed and people have stayed away.

I phoned the owner of a popular restaurant not far from Buchanan Street on Tuesday, day two of the climate conference. He was four hours into lunch service. They had sold one bowl of soup. That was the totality of their trade so far for the day. Some businesses in the immediate vicinity of the conference have seen some dividends, but that’s not extended across the city.

There is a bigger picture of course. Decisions made in and around The Hydro, beside the post-industrial metaphor of the Finnieston Crane, will set the future direction of Glasgow. COP26 is something that is taking place in Glasgow but there is not a lot of Glasgow in it. We are merely antagonised or thrilled on the sidelines. Whatever the leaders of the world decide, we will have our own opportunities to continue the conversations about the environment and the type of city we want to live in.

Living with COP26 has been an opportunity to consider how we would present the city to visitors. Where would you want a visiting head of state to pop in for a cup of tea and a roll and sausage? Where are the bars and restaurants that showcase the best of what Glasgow has to offer?

Delegations still have plenty of time to explore. If they happen to find themselves around Finnieston, we like the cocktails at The Crescent, Kelvingrove Cafe has introduced a new brunch menu and you can pick up beer from the Hidden Lane Brewery.

Further into the West End, The Drake is a cool and cosy, dog-friendly neighbourhood bar that knows good winter comfort food. Go for chicken and leek sausage rolls or shepherd’s pie served with braised mutton, smoked lamb fat mash and seasonal vegetables. Pair with a pint of Krusovice. There’s a hint of the countryside with the traditional fireplace and wee front garden, despite the urban and urbane setting beneath a grand terrace that leads up to Park Circus.

The Hug & Pint on Great Western Road is an outstanding choice for plant-based cooking where Asian influences define the ever-changing menu and all manner of roasting, slicing and garnishing is utilised to add texture to the food. Expect dishes like miso mushroom broth, charred tenderstem broccoli, bok choi, confit garlic oil, pickled beansprouts, spring onions and ramen noodles.

Let’s not just think of what’s on the outskirts of the UN city state by the Clyde. The city centre is a few subway stops away. Delegates have access to the first free, integrated travel network that Glasgow has ever seen. Use it while you can.

There’s a revitalised farmers market at Shawlands, outside Langside Halls, where you will be able to meet some local food producers. Social Bite on St Vincent Street will set you up with a soup and a sandwich to go while offering the chance to help talk about the homeless crisis.

The Laurieston is the type of bar you don’t meet every day.

If negotiations reach an impasse, I’m pretty a solution could be found during a night at Sub Club.

Midweek pints at Redmond’s on Duke Street is an excellent setting for governmental bilateral talks, plus there’s a nearby zero-waste market to pick up your messages. Should your convey reach the Venice of the North, Maryhill, go for brunch at Ocho and a wander along the canal or pop into The Botany for a pint.