First, a disclaimer: often, when I’m reviewing a cafe or restaurant it’s a new experience.
You go in, check out the decor, peruse the menu and try to get a feel for the place.
But when we go into Finnegans, located in the Business Hub on Falkirk’s Vicar Street, we feel right at home - yes, that’s how often we visit.
I’m not using the royal ‘we’, by the way - my husband, the pickiest of picky eaters, is a huge fan and pretty much refuses to go anywhere else.
We are not Finnegans’ only loyal customers, and that’s due to one thing above all - the consistent and excellent quality of the food, which has made it number one on TripAdvisor.
Yes, there are lots of other things we like about it; the staff are friendly and professional, the decor is chic, the atmosphere is relaxed and children are welcomed.
Owner Giles Nicholl is also the chef and as he’s about to celebrate the first birthday of his lovely cafe - which was named the best in the central region at a recent awards - it seems like a good time to actually write about the food rather than just scoff it greedily.
We are most often found in Finnegans for breakfast at the weekends, but today, we’re here for lunch.
I decide to try one of the cafe’s most popular dishes, Giles’ warm Stornoway black pudding salad, with poached eggs, bacon and parmesan.
It’s amazing - just bursting with different flavours and textures; the poached eggs melt into the Stornoway black pudding which crumbles into the crisp, fresh salad with a light, zingy dressing.
There’s no wonder it’s a constant feature on the menu, which includes a good choice of main meals such as fish and chips, which Phil tucks into with gusto and declares “very good”.
This is high praise indeed, from the man who usually regards menus with a level of suspicion normally reserved for a newly promoted detective working his first big case.
Luckily, there’s enough choice to please any fussy eater but there’s also plenty to tempt more adventurous taste buds too with soups, wraps, paninis, salads, baked potatoes and other lunchtime staples as well as hearty mains.
Considering the quality of what’s on offer, the prices are very reasonable and the portions generous.
And did I mention the cakes?
The selection of sweet treats is mouthwatering.
They are all made locally, including Giles’ own Empire biscuits, which are becoming a Falkirk legend.
With one of those, and an excellent cup of coffee - Puro Fairtrade - Phil is feeling that all is right with the world.
I have the gingerbread, also made by Giles, which is a very generous and tasty slice of delicately spiced cake, topped with a beautifully smooth, sweet icing. Yup, I’m happy too.
We often finish a restaurant review with the words ‘I’ll be back’. In this case, there’s no doubt about it.
We’ll definitely be back - again and again.