Hurrah - night out on Friday to celebrate the following:
1. Snow and ice all gone, allowing normal footwear standards to be resumed
2. Clothes all fit again now after harsh two week diet, and
3. Generous e-mail received from Gusto offering 50% off food bill.
So off into Didsbury we went, pausing at the Pitcher and Piano on School Lane to take advantage of their annual 50% off wine sale (at least January is good for something). As the barman uncorked a magnificent bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, we enquired how long the reduced prices would be running, and then tried not to reel in shock at the response "well, until we close down next weekend - we're going to be a Wetherspoons."
This is bad news. Yes, I know the Pitcher and Piano is a chain, and has inflicted some hefty bar bills upon unsuspecting drinkers, but it is fundamentally an asset to Didsbury - a good meeting place offering excellent (and often discounted) cocktails and a decent wine list. And it's on my way into Didsbury.
I suppose I should at least give the Wetherspoons a chance. I wasn't at all taken with Gusto at first either, and it's now one of the most reliably enjoyable places to eat in Didsbury. Our first meal there was bland and uninspiring, nowhere near as good as its predecessor Est Est Est, but our meal there on Friday was pretty close to perfection.
Obviously the whole 50% off thing helped with this, but Gusto has a really buzzy atmosphere, helped along by cheerful staff (although I suspect we had extra good service - we were apparently the first people all day to reply to the waiter's enquiry as to how we were by asking how he was, and he was most attentive thereafter).
Starters included prawns in tomato and garlic sauce (sorry to anyone who encountered me on Saturday) and calamari, whilst for mains the boys had steak and the girls had sashimi tuna and suckling pig respectively, along with a selection of side dishes (mine was the suckling pig, served with a mound of mash potato with an approximate ratio of potato to butter of about half and half - two week's good work undone in two hours methinks).
Anyway, a good night was had by all, and as I'm back on the diet again now I'll try and live off the memories for the next few days...