DINING OUT: Lorenzo's, Freckleton
You can't really miss Lorenzo's - it's a distinctive sight at the point where the Freckleton bypass meets the main entrance to the village and practically every time we have driven past, we have resolved to give it a try.
Afternoon opening on a Sunday might have got us there sooner.
A late lunch in an Italian restaurant is a regular weekend treat for us and, with Lorenzos only open from 5.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays, we have often passed it on the way home from daytime meals in eateries further afield.
But we resolved to check it out one recent Friday evening and were delighted to find it already very busy as we arrived for our early evening booking.
The greeting was immediate and warm and we were offered the option of having a drink in the separate bar before going through to the restaurant section or heading for our table immediately.
We opted for the latter and were handed two menus each – a la carte and autumn set – while a list of specials, attached to the drinks menu on the table, added to the selection options.
Our drinks order was taken and swiftly delivered, with the rare and very welcome touch of the bottle of mineral water my wife and I were sharing arriving in a cooler.
The menus were certainly wide-ranging, with the main menu tantalisingly split into breads, antipasti sharing plates, small plates, starters, pastas, pizzas, large plates and side dishes, while the seasonal set menu – available Sunday to Friday at £13.90 for two courses – offered five starters and six main courses.
All the options, including the specials, featuring three starters and three main courses, immediately suggested plenty of flair and imagination had gone into their creation.
We spotted some notably different ingredients and combinations, but all at generally very reasonable prices.
As I am the only meat-eater in the family, my wife and daughter were also impressed to see a good selection of vegetarian options.
Credit also to Lorenzo’s for offering smaller-size pizzas at a reduced price, while it was also specified that gluten-free bases are available.
As this was our first visit, we opted to give the garlic bread (£2.90) a try and it was very tasty indeed.
But no sooner had we ordered than a basket of delightful home-made bread to share was delivered to the table, so the garlic bread was rather surplus to requirement.
For my starter, I chose Stilton mushrooms (£5.90) off the specials menu and I enjoyed them, with the tang of the blue cheese certainly evident in a sauce which featured tomato as well as the cheese.
Mrs D is a big fan of sardines and she found her choice of Sarde Alla Gardesana (£6.90) a delight – breaded and boneless fish, served with a salad and pickled fennel.
Our daughter, meanwhile, liked the idea of starting with crispy flatbreads served with an alioli dip (£3.90) and while they looked rather different than she had anticipated – reminiscent of poppadoms, we thought – she tucked into them with gusto.
I also turned to the specials list for my main course and here came the only real disappointment of the evening.
It was more down to me making the wrong choice, I suppose, but I never imagined that my Gnocchi Verde (£10.90) would be quite so cheesy.
The menu listed the gnocchi dumplings as being accompanied by meaty ragu sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and toma cheese, but the latter dominated far too much for me, especially after the cheesy mushrooms starter.
My wife was much happier with her choice of spaghetti puttanesca (£9.90), featuring garlic, black olives and chillis, while the teen was thoroughly satisfied with her margherita pizza (£7.90).
Dessert menus were offered but we were too full to contemplate them.
Service throughout was swift and efficient, with a squad of young waiters eagerly supplementing the management. We were a little disappointed, however, that no-one came over during the meal to ask if everything was okay.
With soft drinks, our bill was £56.