There’s something quite satisfying about making your colleagues green with envy (sorry, Deborah) and my visit to the new Italian restaurant, Chianti, did just that.
For a start, it has to be one of the most elegant and lovely looking restaurants in this area, the decor making it feel light and airy while the gorgeous soft furnishings ensure it is never noisy, which can be a problem in big restaurants.
And yet, for the all the elegance, it also manages to be warm and welcoming, thanks to the staff who pull off that difficult balancing act of being friendly and attentive without being pushy or intrusive.
Being a big fan of Italian food, I was looking forward to it so much that I was taking no chances – my other half was unceremoniously ditched, knowing the only Italian dish he would order was spag bol.
Instead, my sister stepped into the world of restaurant reviewing with ease: eat three courses and tell me what you think of them were her instructions, dutifully followed.
On arrival, we were invited to have a drink in the attractive lounge area or go straight through to the restaurant.
As it was a school night, we opted to cut to the chase and were soon perusing the extensive menu.
It turns out I could have brought the other half – there are several ‘old favourites’ on the menu, along with a wide choice of mouth-watering meat and seafood dishes.
After he took our order, the waiter asked if we would like foccacia and I said yes, although it’s not a great favourite of mine.
I have never made a better decision. It was piping hot, light as a feather and beautifully seasoned.
My starter was antipasta Italiano – beautifully presented mixed cold meats with cheese and olives, served with rocket and a fresh, zingy dressing.
Mairi ordered the oven-baked courgette which was so good she asked how it was made.
“It’s a secret!” laughed the waiter, having asked the chef. “Mushroom, garlic, parmesan cheese ... and a little bit of this and a little bit of that!”
Well, whatever it is, it works.
For our main courses, I plumped for the fish of the day, which was sea bream in a beautiful white wine and tarragon sauce, while Mairi had the seafood risotto which was “delicious”.
We were not let down by the dessert either – Mairi’s panacotta with mixed berries was declared “perfect”, the best she’s ever had.
My crepe filled with ice-cream and topped with a dusting of Amaretto crumble was seriously greedy on my part but very enjoyable, even if I did struggle to walk to the car once I’d finished.
The acid test, of course, is would we go back?
Absolutely ‘yes’ - the prices are very reasonable, and there are a few more dishes on the menu that I’m keen to try.
In fact, someone I know is already looking forward to a big plate of spaghetti bolognese.