I’ve been here before, but it was during Covid and masks in the crazy times when the world was half-open and half-shut and back then I thought: I must return. When it’s all over. And then I forgot all about it. Until recently. Emails started to trickle in from readers, somebody mentioned an award or two and ... Well, here we are. Tuesday night. December.

A real dank cold in the air, the Saltmarket faintly edgy as it can sometimes feel. I park right outside. Joe will rock up after leaving his car miles away – the price of this being in the new Ulez whopping-fine zone.

I didn’t book Damasquino but the doors are open, the lights are on and everybody’s definitely in. I count six staff behind the counter and in the kitchen as I’m shown through to a couple of seats at a very long table, two guys at the far end of it tackling a feast.

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“What are they eating?” I ask our waiter (nice guy – a student from Jordan). Now. They’ll sell you a kilo of shawarma, or a kilo of lamb kebab skewers, or even a kilo of shish taouk, from the family meal section.

“But I really fancy what they’re having,” I say, nodding towards our neighbours. What follows is frankly a further flurry of roulette ordering as I skip through the starters section: an arayes; a mohamarah, my ordering of this causing a pause til the waiter guy gently gets me pronouncing it right; then moutabal, and a sambousek (cheese) too.

And so we sit back, look around. I ask if that’s ice cream being stirred in that chiller machine at the back (it’s salted goat’s cheese).

A party of 12 squeeze in behind us to the window seat: men, women, young dudes, old geezers. It’s fully cosmopolitan in here tonight and showing no signs of slowing down as the clock ticks on. And then we’re eating: ooft. Try these I say to Joe, as I begin my second piece, and he is tackling a mohamara.

The Herald: Damasquino, in Glasgow’s SaltmarketDamasquino, in Glasgow’s Saltmarket (Image: Gordon Terris)

“They’re fantastic,” as I check the menu to see what I’m eating: it’s arayes. Hard to describe really. A triangular sandwich of flatbread, stuffed with kofta mince, the whole thing pan-fried til crispy and thin and blistered all over.

We’ve got a platter of this Lebanese street food for £4.90. And I can’t stop eating them even after I detour to crunch my way through a filo cigar that is a cheese sambousek (£4.90) and pause for a few moments more to have a go at the mohamarah.

This is more flat bread, this time toasted rather than fried. More sandwiching. This time the filling is that reddened concoction of walnuts, peppers, pomegranate molasses and breadcrumbs slivering a real tang throughout this. But I’m drawn back at the arayes again.

Meanwhile we chatter away about a legal case called Gilmour.

Even as our platter arrives, sprawling as it is with grilled meats, these perched enticingly on a bed of rice, I carry on with the arayes. Can’t stop. Eventually we finish them all and I pick up one of the cubes of caramelised meat from the platter expecting pretty much the usual mixed grill fare – certainly a taste downer compared to what I have just eaten.

Stoap the bus, as people around these parts used to say.

This too is crammed with flavour: some sort of marinade, coating, seasoning that makes the lamb, for that’s what it is, seasoned and salty and delicious.

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Now we’re diving into chicken mince, formed and grilled on a skewer but not just tasting of chicken. Is it lime, or lemon in this marinade I ask our friendly local waiter. It may be both, is the answer. Whatever, it is it is not alone.

There’s not a single piece of the grillade, and caramelised meats on this platter; not even the chicken wings, that is not doused in surprising spicing and tastes.

Twenty minutes later? Joe is saying out loud: did we actually just eat all of that? Damasquino then: even better than remembered.

94 Saltmarket

Menu: That mixed grill, those Arayes, Mohamarrahs, Shashliks, Tikkas, Labnehs plus other Lebanese dishes we didn’t try included something called Broasted Chicken. 4/5

Service: Impossible to fault, friendly relaxed and very helpful. 5/5

Price: That mixed Grill was 322.50 and would feed a few, the Arayes was £5.40 for a platter, the other starters all less than a fiver. 5/5

Atmosphere: Listen. it’s homespun, feels part cafe, part restaurant, there’s a take-away kebab bit. It’s cosmopolitan too; bustling all night. I liked it. 4/5

Food: Not just your ordinary mixed grill but one where every item is full of marinated surprises, even the Arayes was outstanding. 9/10

Total: 27/30