RESTAURANTS: Too Good to Be True? No, Better Than That; Jade Wright and Friends Enjoy the Delicious Taste of Summer at a Bargain Price
DO YOU know the old saying that, if something sounds too good, to be true, it probably is? Well, I've just found the exception.
The Taste of Summer menu at 60 Hope Street offers three courses for pounds 16.95, which on the face of it - especially given the impeccable surroundings - is suspiciously good value.
Factor in a free bottle of 2006 Touraine Ros Alain Marcadet between two, and something, you'd imagine, would have to give.
Except on our visit, it didn't. I'd heard whisperings in the office that 60 Hope Street had the best service in town, and never one to resist a bargain, I headed over on a rare sunny evening with two friends ready to try the new menu for ourselves.
Our arrival was greeted with enthusiasm by the friendly staff, who ushered us to a large round table by the window and proffered the menu.
As the waiter placed the huge linen napkins in our laps, I realised exactly what my colleagues had been talking about - the service at 60 Hope Street made us feel like a million dollars.
As we perused the four choices of starter, mains and desserts on the menu, our waiter returned with a basket of heavenly breads, ranging from a fluffy white to a Mediterranean speciality packed with olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
Our free rose was promptly delivered and tasted every bit as good as we'd hoped - crisp, fruity and refreshing, perfect for a warm sunny evening.
The minimalist interior of the restaurant is warm and welcoming and complements the grand Georgian entrance.
The tables were dressed with fresh flowers, linen napkins and sparkling cutlery and glasses.
As we drank our wine, we made our selections from the menu, or in my case, my individually created menu.
I always think the test of a good restaurant is to ask them for something that isn't on the menu. And test it I did, although not entirely by choice.
Browsing the Taste of Summer menu - the offer ends tomorrow - on the restaurant's website during the day, I realised it had no vegetarian option on the starter section.
After toying with the idea of requesting a main and two puddings (my friends threatened to disown me if I even tried) or abandoning the special menu altogether, I called in advance to ask the restaurant's advice.
The super-friendly staff reassured me that there would be a vegetarian option, and when I arrived I wasn't disappointed. There were, in fact, two - deep fried goat's cheese and sweet potato soup.
I opted for the latter, with summer vegetable tortilla and Greek salad, while my friends chose paprika Goosnargh chicken with tzatziki for a starter, followed by baked escalope of salmon and julienne of vegetables with sauce verte and potted Southport shrimp, Melba toast and potato salad, and a main course of rump of Cumbrian beef with watercress salad and Lancashire cheese.
Greedy guts that we are, we also ordered side orders of chips (pounds 2.50) and rocket and Parmesan (pounds 4.95) to share.
The starters arrived within 20 minutes - long enough for us to catch up on all the office gossip, but not so long that we wanted to eat our own arms. …