21 Market Square, Lytham. I often think of Zest when looking for somewhere fun, to share with easy company, the sort who wouldn’t be put off by the hustle, bustle and noise that do a lot more to add than detract from its lovely, lively atmosphere.
Usually, I come here when there’s a smoker in the group – the patio heaters mean I’m more than happy to enjoy a bit of fresh air at an outdoor table, even in chilly weather.
Sometimes, I’ve been known to go just for one of the home-made specials on the board, or the great soup, or to take youngsters – who would otherwise end up choosing chicken nuggets – here, they do what I’d describe as ‘proper’ chicken goujons, mini fillets dipped in light breadcrumbs, served with fries and a salad; a simple choice, but one made so much better by the intervention of an actual chef, rather than the usual frozen variety.
This time, my cousin and I just wanted a couple of hours’ chilling with a few proper Italian coffees and some good grub... where else ticked those boxes and promised reliable, varied fare and, if we were lucky, unrestricted on-street parking on a Sunday in town centre Lytham. We weren’t after a roast beef dinner and the trimmings, indeed I’ve only ever been here on a Sunday before for the full English breakfast, highly recommended I might add after a late Saturday night and the odd beer or two.
We parked, and deemed it just a tad too chilly to sit outside, but there were a couple of empty tables to choose from close to the specials board at the back; and then came the Eureka moment – the usual list of a few extras was replaced by an announcement – now open to serve food until 9pm.
Hallelujah. I don’t know why they never did that before, but it could have had something to do with the drinking crowd making this a very busy after-dark venue already.
The menu is so all-encompassing anyway, I was happier to read that informative gem than to be offered a home-made spinach quiche – and we’d probably been sitting for less than a minute when we were offered drinks – a coke and a cappuccino – and took in the menu, trying to choose a change from my usual seared salmon.
We were so slow to pick, we asked for an order of mozzarella crostini to share at £3.95, if only out of guilt for probably being the most long-winded perusers they’d had in all week. It came – and proved the perfect nibble fare while we gave our order for one house burger and yes, the seared salmon for me. I don’t go often enough to waste the opportunity, so that was that. The cajun chicken came close, as did a ribeye – but too heavy for lunch, perhaps, with salmon always tending to be the best light choice.
We ordered a big bottle of sparkling Pellegrino water and then another, adding £5.90 to the bill and then another £2.95 for a side order of onion rings that turned out to be a bit of an order too far when our mains arrived. Another side – red onion and tomato salad – offered just the two ingredients, no dressing, no neat twist to turn it into an appetising collaboration... not a tragedy, but still, I hadn’t taken the menu description quite so literally! Somehow, after all that, we still managed a wander to the desserts cabinet to see what looked the most tempting choice of the day.
Time constraints usually put paid to the opportunity to indulge, but not this time; it was a bit like picking my Grand National horse – I had a winner and an each way – and so did she. Fortunately, our each way choice was the same, so what were two girls to do. We ordered the last strawberry tart for me and my cousin picked a slice of home-made coffee and walnut cake. And, shamelessly, we ordered a slice of the ‘each way’ lemon meringue to share. All three came with cream and a little pot of forest fruits. We almost felt we had to make excuses for our excesses but I’m sure, with a desserts cabinet like that, they’ve seen it all before.
As cocktails were created in the background, chefs clattered and smiley staff bustled, it was a very pleasant experience and at £55.95 for a seriously hearty 150 minutes it was a good value exchange.
Name: Zest Food & Wine Bar
Address: 21 Market Square, Lytham FY8 5LW
Phone: (01253) 735253
Opening times: All day, every day, 8.30am to late
Parking: Restricted on street, pay and display nearby
Disabled access: No steps at front
Worth a visit for: A lively experience
One thing I’d change: The red onion and tomato salad