The White Apron, Warrington restaurant review

The White Apron, Church Street, Warrington, 01925 444 894,

The White Apron, Church Street, Warrington, 01925 444 894,

At first glance you could easily miss The White Apron. At second glance you might dismiss it because it is squeezed between an Indian eaterie and a pub on a corner of a busy dual carriageway in an area of building work and industrial units.

But that would be your loss. Take a third glance then enter the black front door and climb the carpeted stairs to the wooden waiter figure at the top and you will find yourselves in another world of candlelight and gentle jazz.

The Mediterranean restaurant stretches out over the entire top floor of the Grade II-listed building and is decorated in a light but warm style. There are large leather sofas to relax in at the bar and diners are seated at solid, chunky tables on chairs that are equally robust.

The menu was extensive, not just in the choices but in the description. Printed in a hardto- read script typeface, each dish was followed by at least a paragraph of explanation, which as the daylight faded and diners were left with candles and mood lighting, became harder to read.

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Nevertheless, the range could not be faulted. The menu offered not just starters but nibbles too: pre-starter starters. We chose olives but simple bread and butter was also on the menu, as well as spicy roasted almonds. For starters proper I plumped for baked goats cheese on a crispy crouton served with sweet beetroot dressing. The cheese was tasty but a little cloying and there wasn't really enough dressing or salad to counteract it.

Nigel's choice was Levantine tabbouleh salad: bulgar wheat with roasted peppers, courgettes, feta cheese, salad leaves drizzles with fresh lemon and olive oil. It was delicious: light and full of flavour without being over powering.

For the main course I went forpan fried sea bass fillets served on saffron braised cabbage and fennel and drizzled with truffle oil. The fish was light and almost sweet in flavour, echoed and amplified by its bed of braised vegetables.

Nigel picked lamb shank slowly braised in Marsala wine, rosemary and garlic. It was beautifully tender and deeply satisfying. Boiled potatoes, cauliflower and carrots accompanied both meals.

For dessert I decided on maple syrup and pecan nut cheesecake served with double cream and Nigel opted for warm treacle tart served with 'lots and lots of creamy custard', both home-made. The verdict across the table was that although it was tasty, the portion of tart was a little small. The cheesecake, however, was substantial with the nuts making a crunchy contrast to the smooth topping, all finished off by the syrup and cream combination sugar rush. Perfect.

Even the bottles of wine 'wear' white aprons and we ordered a smooth and fruity bottle of Vina Maipo Merlot to accompany the meal and coffee to finish.

Unfortunately the first jug of cream with the latter had turned, but it was exchanged quickly and apologetically and no harm was done. Our bill came to �80.

The staff, wearing trademark long continentalstyle white aprons, were friendly and courteous, as was Belgium-born co-proprietor Guy Ransbottyn. The restaurant prides itself on being smoke-free long before any ban comes into force and is a Fairtrade establishment.

Don't let first impressions put you off this hidden gem: the Mediterranean right in the middle of Warrington.

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