FOR some reason my dining companion the Professor will insist on getting the chef out of the kitchen for a selfie at the end of this meal. To a person as socially inept as myself, this is almost as soaringly high on the cringeometer as his insistence on speaking Spanish to the Mexican waitress throughout the evening. I don’t understand a word of it. Judging by her face, neither did she. Boom, boom.

However, the man is a genuine full-fat

mysterious genius at getting into restaurants. And it is entirely thanks to him that, just two days after Condita here is awarded a Michelin Star, instantly becoming supernova hot, we are somehow sitting in its small, bare and actually slightly cold, converted shopfront in suburbia weirdness enjoying…

Well, a still-life of tiny Shetland mussels in a surprisingly delicious edible shell (made of potato, since you wonder); a shape-changing barbecued chicken yakitori shockingly stuffed with almost slimy, wondrously gelatinous and astonishingly tasty eel. To describe just two.

Now. The only notes I will take of the glowingly crisped, moist to perfection, succulent plaice with mushroom is this: brilliant. And of perhaps the most mainstream dish? Yet another

frond-waving, herb-tweezered art miniature, this time involving home-soused and tangy mackerel with bacon crisps. I’ll scribble: fresh and lovely. Too busy eating.

I should say here that, being the sole idiot offspring of a family of artists containing at least one professor of the subject and another doctor, I’ve seen arty work with old newspapers many times – largely in my sister’s wacky art student years. So the randomly placed shapes cut out of newspapers scattered across the table, the art-with-newspapers draping the wall, evokes nothing more in me than a galactically deep sigh.

Likewise the batshit-daft home-drawn cards with pictures of carrots, fish, by way of a menu. Yes, there is always a gallopingly enthusiastic description given by the waitress of what we are about to eat – but try remembering that two milliseconds later.

So, awkwardness aside, I will be curious to see this chef: at least to find out what the hell we just ate. And curious about a couple of other things too. First, we have at times been served by the sous chef, a smiley, warm, giant slab of a man with hands like bunches of carrots – is there a teeny-weeny, tiny-winy little chef to balance him and tweezer this micro-perfection into place?

Second, Condita is like no Michelin star restaurant I’ve ever been in, being neither pretentious (intentionally anyway) comfortable nor outwardly sophisticated. And the toilets are, er, surprising.

So who on earth managed to persuade

the notoriously snail-paced Michelin inspectors to award a star within just a year of opening – while others have waited and still wait years, quietly rending their starched garments in anguish? Caramba,

as the Prof once said to the waitress. And that food? Eight courses, 80 bangers. Including Loch Arthur cheese with

semi-dried grapes from its very own greenhouse, teased into a Jenga-like tower, hand-made actual genuine crackers layering it into a strangely good, sweet, sharp and sour experience.

Even my least favourite course of the evening – Ardoch Farm Hebridean hogget (not nearly enough flavour for year-old sheep, too purpley-pink for me) with plummy overtones – is still very good.

Fast forward, though: the chef arrives, blinking almost as he steps out of the tiny kitchen. And crikey, he too is a giant slab of a man. South African with an Irish name and the air of someone who can’t quite yet believe how suddenly successful he has become. Charming, self-deprecating, shy.

Ingredients are outlined (and once again instantly forgotten), the restaurant’s quietness explained (bookings severely restricted until they recover from the shock of the award).

And I notice the Prof asking for, then quietly pocketing, the chef’s personal business card containing his bloody personal phone number. To be used after the inevitable stampede starts. Smart



15 Salisbury Place


0131 667 5777

Closed Sunday and Monday then 7.30pm to 9pm

Menu: Edinburgh and Scotland’s newest Michelin Starred restaurant; hogget, eel, plaice and mussels all made startlingly beautiful and simply tasty. 5

Service: Not the usual (on the continent anyway) drilled to glib Michelin perfection style, but no less effective for being chatty and relaxed. 4

Atmosphere: Converted shop front restaurant with arty hangings, amidst blizzardy whiteness - its really all about the food. 3

Price: Eight course for £80, they do a five courser too- pretty much worth it. 5

Food: Now Scotland’s quirkiest Michelin star restaurant but the plaice with mushroom; the Japanese barbecued chicken yakitori (with eel), even the crazy cheese dish: to be experienced. 9