Sometimes, a night out just goes perfectly, impossibly right; you look back at it and think that you wouldn't change a thing. And luckily, after a trying week that saw - amongst other things - riots in Manchester and (on a slightly more personal, domestic level) ownership of a nosy, just-can't-leave-it-alone cat with gloss paint all over his face, last night was exactly such an occasion.
First things first: it was our wedding anniversary night out, to celebrate seven years of being married to a man who enjoys making hilarious jokes about how he would get less for armed robbery, and we had chosen to dine at Rhubarb restaurant on West Didsbury's Burton Road. This has been a reliable destination ever since it opened in 2003, but really seems to have raised its game recently - quite rightly leading to nominations for Best Restaurant and Best Chef for Bryn Evans in the upcoming Manchester Food and Drink Awards (you can vote for them here). Here are the highlights of this swaggeringly good evening:
1. Brisk walk Up West to Burton Road - a half hour journey that meant I could now eat with impunity for the rest of the evening. I am wearing some excellent gladiator sandals, a fact that the weather respects as the rain holds off for the entire evening - an event that has happened only twice in Manchester since records began.
2. Quick wine-tasting at Reserve Wines. This is a gem of a wine shop - lovely people, lovely wines, and an irresponsible tendency to tweet about lovely wine-tastings that lure you off your sofa and into the shop's gently smiling mouth.
3. Inaugural visit to Mary and Archie, the new(ish) bar that replaced our beloved Silver Apples on Burton Road; first impressions good (Mr Liz wisely points out it may take further research before we can pronounce a full vedict). We sat in the window, drank bottled Belgian beer, and watched a succession of ill-advised outfits parade past, including a lady in shoes so high she practically had to be carried across some of West Didsbury's rockier road surfaces.
4. Rhubarb. Looking back, I seem to have chosen the three courses with the highest possible saturated fat content (lucky I walked there, eh?) and unsurprisingly, it was all delicious: chicken liver parfait, followed by rump steak, followed by cheese, followed by some whining about having eaten too much. A special mention should go to the steak, procured from Chorlton's Mr Frosty Butcher himself, cooked perfectly, and served with proper big, fat chips - crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle; a little like a cat coated in gloss paint, in fact. This course was excellent value at £17 - the piece of steak was the size of a small bungalow, and came complete with green beans and the aforementioned chips; no need to spend extra on side dishes here (although obviously, we did, as no-one in their right mind could resist parmesan coated courgettes, surely). The service was lovely, with a special mention to the brave girl who single-handedly wrestled a wasp to the ground while the man at the next table actually ran around in fright, flapping his hands and practically climbing on his chair. All in all a flawless meal - thank you Rhubarb.
5. What? you cry - haven't you had enough nice things happen to you in just one night? Well, just to cap off the perfect evening, we flagged a taxi down and found to our joy that for the first time ever, we'd secured the Hacienda taxi, allowing us to ride home in style, decked out in the classic yellow and black stripes so recently seen on that unfortunate wasp.
So hurrah for the perfect evening; here's to topping it next year when, if my in-depth academic research (Wikipedia) is to be believed, I will be the lucky recipient of a present made entirely of salt - hence the accompanying night out really had better be phenomenally good.