Watch: The Gannet's Peter McKenna on the changing face of Finnieston

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Chef Peter McKenna meets us in the Ben Nevis for a chat about Finnieston, food and the future.

Today Finnieston is renowned for its high quality restaurants and bars, but this feature of its identity only developed within the last decade. Argyle Street previously a sparsely occupied outlier in the West End, attracted an array of creative forces who flocked to the area to realise their culinary ambitions.

One venue that contributed to the culture shift was The Gannet, the product of an entrepreneurial collaboration between chefs Peter McKenna and Ivan Stein. Specialising in Scottish cuisine the restaurant itself has undergone a natural evolution of its own throughout the years, responding to the changing tastes and interests of its owners.

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It was one of the first to offer a tasting menu only experience in the city, though recently reintroduced an á la carte. McKenna is now the sole owner of The Gannet having recently bought out his business partner.

“The funny thing about The Gannet, you know, it’s changed”, said Peter McKenna. “Same name, it’s had the same name now for going on eleven years, but the offering keeps evolving. We tune into the small producers and there’s always somebody new, there’s always something exciting happening. You’ve got the Denhead asparagus at the moment, the foraging community has grown exponentially since we began. Gary Goldie was the only forager that I knew and he would bring me out and show me this and that.”

“Over the years, with education and other people coming on the scene, it’s blown up massively. You’ll see bits of foraging now throughout most of the restaurant menus in the city, and I think that’s really exciting because you don’t get that in every city. That’s been a nucleus that we’ve saw grow from nothing into something huge. In Glasgow there’s something really special because you’ve got these great people at your fingertips, on your doorstep.

“For The Gannet, we keep moving, keep changing. A lot of that’s to do with taste. My taste doesn’t stay the same. Before Covid we decided to go tasting menu only. I don’t think there was a tasting menu only restaurant in the city. But that’s how I wanted to do it at the time. I had these producers that were doing certain things at certain times of the year, and I wanted to share that story of ‘what’s Scotland like in August’, ‘what’s Scotland like in November’. 

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“But I think we’ve told that story. At the moment, what I like to do is I like to cook what I want to eat. And I want the best of this and the best of that. I want to eat within the seasons but I don’t want to have to dictate anymore. Because with a tasting menu you’re not just thinking of that one course within the middle of a seven course menu. You’re thinking of the course before, you’re thinking about the course after, how it all plays together as one.

“I want to be able to put specials beck on the menu. I miss that. If a seafood supplier goes ‘Pete, I’ve got this, there’s not 50 portions of it there’s four’, I want to be able to say yes. The Gannet is going to change, there’s going to be more flexibility. I don’t to be a birthdays celebration where only the special events in your life you come to The Gannet. I want people to come to The Gannet anyway. I want to be accessible, where you don’t have to pay through the nose for food.

“Come to The Gannet and we’ll look after you. We’ve got a beautiful restaurant, I want everybody to see it, I want everybody to walk through it. I want people to sit down and enjoy themselves. Have a beer, have a wine, whatever you like. Let the wonderful team we have look after you.”

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