Last time I was at this place it was one of Paul Heathcote’s micro-chain Olive Press restaurants. He sold them a little while back apparently so he could concentrate on the Longridge Restaurant regaining the Michelin star it lost some years back (Laugh? I nearly pissed myself). Back then, I found the food pretty decent but the service was incompetent on both occasions I went. Now incorporated into the slightly larger Gusto mini-chain (owned by Living Ventures, who also run the regionally well known “Grill” mini-chain), there’s certainly no real complaints about service. It’s fast, efficient, and never loses an opportunity to upsell – yep, it’s all a bit chainy.
As for the food, pretty much bog standard Italianesque – pizza, pastas, a few other bits and bobs. Nothing to offend and nothing to get excited about.
A starter of meatballs were fine. Well seasoned beef, a decent tomato sauce, topped with cheese. A couple of slices of toasted baguette to dunk.
One of the “other bits and bobs” was a plate of hummus, cucumber sticks and pitta. The pitta was the sort of size that could easily double as a duvet. But this was all pleasant enough. It was followed by a batted out rump steak, quickly fried and topped with chilli, garlic, a small handful of rocket and a few shavings of grano padana. Better examples of this Italian classic exist but it was none too shabby.
Pizza came in the form of the “Classic American” – tomato sauce, mozzarella, a very poky pepperoni. Tasted good, although the base was a little undercooked for my taste. Generously sized at 12”. They make a point on the menu of saying the dough is made on site “using a recipe from a Tuscan monk called Palo, believe it or not”. Well, if they say so then I believe – natch.
Not too many opportunities for decent pizza in the North Cheshire/ South Manchester area. This is decent food if you’re in the area but a destination place, it ain’t.