One of the key differences between London's Downing Street and Duke Street in the East End is that people who lived on Duke Street during lockdown didn't have the luxury of work-related garden parties.

Dennistoun became an island for me in the first year of the pandemic. Days of tenemental solitude broken up by regimented walks to Glasgow Green and Alexandra Park.

Straying to the boundaries of my condensed corner of Glasgow by walking to the Tennent's brewery, then around the cathedral and across the Bridge of Sighs before trudging up to the pinnacle of the necropolis and looking out across the cityscape.

It's strange to think back on the rules that we followed to protect our fellow citizens and the impact that had on our daily lives.

Mesa was one of my pandemic places.

I say that without a glimmer of regret or sense of foreboding. All of us will now have spots that are forever tied to the otherworldly experience of a city on pause.

For me, it was gleefully striding round the corner of Armadale Street for a takeaway brunch or a sandwich that was transported back home with reverence. I was lucky that my confinement was in close proximity to one of the best neighbourhood cafes in the city.

You no longer need to queue at the hatch for your order. Take your place at a smart white-topped table, set beside the bare brick walls with a print of Tom Waits watching over you.

Make time for a two-egg skillet with rose harissa lamb shoulder, labneh and dukkah. You deserve it.

Mesa is an offshoot of Cafe Strange Brew on the Southside.

A collaboration between chefs Laurie MacMillan and Andrea Bartolini, pancakes have always been a key part of the menu but the star of the show these days is provided by another linked business, just across the road.

Sweet Jane Bakehouse opened in time for the first lockdown with cakes and sourdough loaves for collection. For a time Mesa became more of a local grocery store with fresh eggs, bread and good chat.

When the cafe returned to its more natural setting, the sourdough stayed alongside freshly baked bloomers, rolls and focaccia.

Now, there are all kinds of international flavours to sample, wedged between two chunks of bread. Pastrami with pickled cabbage, emmental and mustard mayo is a regular favourite.

Recent specials have included herbed cauliflower fritter, tahini and white cabbage slaw with roasted garlic hummus and a fully loaded chicken Milanese with curried mayo, tomato salad and onion jam.

It's always interesting and substantial and fun. Treasure this place if you are local, make the journey if you live further from Mesa's outstanding sandwich collection.

While we are in the neighbourhood, Zennor is a recent arrival to 354 Duke Street. The neighbourhood coffee shop has its own blend espresso, which goes well with a slice of gingerbread loaf.

567 Duke Street, G31 1PY

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There's a sense of nostalgia seeing the Peckham's name back on Clarence Drive.

The local delicatessen began here in 1982 before expanding in Glasgow and Edinburgh. When the Hyndland Fox exited this property, founder Tony Johnson saw an opportunity to return to his roots.

It joins a little cluster of local food and drink businesses including Locker, The Bakery by Zique, The Good Spirit Co and Sushi Riot. The new version of Peckham's is a bar and restaurant with relaxed sensibilities.

Treats from the cake cabinet include sticky toffee loaf, lemon drizzle cake and chocolate fudge brownies. A seat at the counter by the window is the ideal vantage spot to while away a couple of hours over breakfast dishes like black pudding and bacon hash or wild mushroom and leek encroute.

We usually go for the sourdough French toast with bacon, tomato, mascarpone, maple syrup and a scattering of watermelon salsa that brings an unexpected fresh zing.

Pair with a coffee or, if the weather is particularly grim, a sunny magarita. A friend travels here specifically for their lunchtime cullen skink, made with Inverawe smoked haddock.

The brasserie evening menu includes venison haunch served with their own brown sauce, tempura-battered fish goujons with house fries or Shetland mussels in a Thai broth.

43 Clarence Drive, G12 9QN

Ga Ga Kitchen + Bar

Julie Lin from Julie's Kopitiam teamed up with The Thornwood Bar to create an instant food and drink smash hit.

They are busy with bookings but consistently make space for walk-ins. Something to be appreciated in uncertain times.

The bright open space is a welcome retreat from the realities of winter with spicy international flavours and a playful, measured approach to cocktails.

Julie brings out the main courses we ordered to our table and I mention the fact that this is already starting to look like a local hangout.

She says that was always part of the plan, "if people live in the flats above us or around us then I want them to feel like they can pop in here anytime for something to eat or a drink".

The main dining room area has large tables to accommodate a collection of plates influenced by Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. The bar side is busy with groups gathering to make their way through the wine list. We'll join them shortly, but first, the debut food menu.

Order the prawn toast and Taiwanese fried chicken every time. They will be divided almost instinctively.

The beef stew with crispy garlic is pleasantly warming. Sticky gingery potatoes on the side. We had a special that was described as kind of a noodle ramen, that was really the exact type of food that you want presented in front of you in January.

For drinks, get tore right into white, red, orange and rosé wine. People have already noticed the list here is top class.

The gin cocktail with local berries, gunpowder tea and fresh citrus is a drink to take you off to an exotic beach somewhere. If you really want to push the holiday vibes, order the watermelon lah, inspired by a Malaysian street food vendor, made with bourbon, citrus and burnt rosemary syrup and garnished with an oversized slice of watermelon.

Ga Ga are shaking things up in the West End.

566 Dumbarton Rd, Partick, G11 6RH

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times: