IS this the world’s smallest table, I quip to the young waiter dude, who – not expecting such cheek from the plump diner who has just rolled in without even a booking – scans the room for a moment. “We could move you over there,” he says, nodding towards the alcovey bit way at the back of the restaurant.

A restaurant which is otherwise, er, completely empty. Well, save for two ladies and a bottle of wine. How about we move these two tables together, I say, looking down at the one beside me. And with that the problem is solved.

Moments later the waiter’s back, taking drink orders and I’m now suggesting we do the food order too as Joe, who is definitely on his way, could take forever. That done I flip open my laptop and note to self “tiny tables” while watching idly as the waiter goes into that tiny kitchen (further note to self, “even tinier kitchen”) that I actually thought was a reception desk and is now setting various culinary machines to full-speed-ahead.

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I hear the low whoosh of pilot lights and a fryer suddenly crackling. I see a puff of steam, feel a deep hum as electricity starts sucking down from the grid and think: crikey is this kid doing everything tonight?

Which, come to think of it, may explain why nobody answered my repeated phone calls earlier. But ... Just at this very moment, almost like it’s choreographed, the front door springs open, a gust of icy air billowing from Dumbarton Road, and a fast-moving bearded man already has his coat off, apron tied and is springing behind that receptionette/kitchen thang. Let the magic begin, I mutter.

Deleting “note-to-self, one-man-band” from my screen. And Shazamming instead the funkadelic tunes dripping from the sound system. (Dojo Cuts and Rome since you ask, “Thereeeeeeeee’s a time ...”) Those other two customers are chatting away comfortably, the kitchen’s now flat-out. This place is very small, but, actually definitely very comfortable. And now the food’s here.

“What is that,” my chum Joe says. Yes he has arrived. Celery root, grape, horseradish, I read out-loud from the menu as we start to pick. “Celery root?” I say to the waiter as he passes. “Celeriac,” he confirms. Slivers, fine, moist, tangy vinaigrette, just the slightest horseradish tone to it all, and then sweet, refreshing grapes. “Honestly, this is the food I want to be eating,” I’ll say. Just arrived is a beetroot, Cafe De Paris mayo, walnut and shallot tower.

No, no idea what Cafe De Paris mayo is either, and neither has Mr Google, but this dish is rich and sweet, the shallots deeply flavoured, the beetroot in sweet hunks, and crunchy walnut too.

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I’m already missing it by the time I start forking fine slivers of stone bass from a platter, setting off crisp green chilli fire bombs, dragging it all through what I take to be clementine sauce and cleaning up with fresh basil leaves. Think ceviche-plus. Boom. Three dishes down. Three reasons I would want to come back.

Of course, these are things the kitchen – in what used to be Blue Peter style – must have prepared earlier, but frankly: so what? Yet there’s more. And this is what that chef’s been working on. Big hot slices of salt-baked turnip, mild, maybe a sweet aftertaste, gooey black garlic to smear it all in, light Jerusalem artichoke crisps, wilted leek, sprinkled herbs, dotted spices, a green dressing, too, on the plate.

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Veggie or not, this too is good. We have a cavatelli: tiny pasta shells, lemon, tomato and – frankly a bit weird, this – mussels. Why weird? The lighting is low, the whole plate topped with breadcrumb and fennel, it’s not until the food is actually on the palate that I can distinguish between squishy mussels or softer pasta. It’s mouth-feel odd but in an OK way. Is there then going to be a dud dish dish tonight?

Well, maybe. The butterflied mackerel with miso, white kimchi and chicken sauce (may contain bones) looks fabulous. The fish skin seared to a bubbly black and gold, the kimchi juices and chicken sauces melding beautifully but ... that mackerel? Hmm. Is it overcooked, has it just sat too long, the texture, for me anyway is a bit mushy. Still, as we take turns demolishing a gooey choc cremeux, clean vanilla sorbet and smoked almond, the conclusion is: very good meal.

88 Dumbarton Road
G11 6NX

Menu: They don’t make a big deal of it but superb, light, inventive vegetarian delights, sprinkled heavily amongst Butterflied Mackerel, hanger steaks, and even some pasta. 4/5

Service: Young waiter dude was cool, calm, relaxed and helpful even with this customer who thinks he’s funny - when he’s not. 5/5

Price: Meh, prices have gone everywhere mad post-covid so small plates rangig from £7 to £10, plus £15 for the fish, and £8 for desserts seems normal nowadays. 3/5

Atmosphere: Cosy little nook of a place, there were other customers just in for a relaxing drink, great vibe even when pretty empty. 5/5

Food: The meat free (they don’t describe them thus) dishes by far the best, all three first plates were a joy, mackerel not so good, but overall to a high standard. 8/10

Total: 25/30

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