There is a certain type of person who is, I think, best viewed with suspicion. I'm talking about those people who claim it's too hot to eat - they've lost their appetite completely, and can't possibly fancy anything to eat, except maybe just this lettuce leaf and perhaps the fruit out the Pimms. This is nonsense of course - it is NEVER too hot to eat, particularly if you are lucky enough to be having lunch at SoLIta on the hottest day of the year so far; indeed, the energy expended in actually managing to put one foot in front the other in such blistering conditions means that you should actually eat MORE, lest you expire there and then on the pavement in the Northern Quarter.
Now, I never need much of an excuse to eat at SoLIta, but there are some new dishes on the menu and this seemed as good a reason as any to go along and try them out - particularly as some of the dishes that have come off to make way for the new ones were dear favourites. Fortunately, the new stuff is pretty fabulous: for our starters, we go entirely vegetarian (you know me - ever health conscious) with the Lucky 7 layered dip and the Eggplant Fritters, and both are delicious. You might have to be quick to get the latter, as Franco keeps threatening to take them off the menu, but we must rise up and say no to such blatant aubergine bullying - they are perfect beings, crisply battered on the outside and softly melting on the inside, and presented perched coyly over a rich tomato sauce. The Lucky 7 dip is similarly pleasing in its construction - although the beautiful strata, formed from layers of refried beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cheese, olives and lettuce, last about 15 seconds before they are mined ruthlessly with the aid of some blue corn tortilla chips.
For mains, we share another of the new dishes but also can't resist trying the current special - the Andy Murray burger. There's been plenty of press coverage of this meaty tribute to that Scottish bloke who won some tennis thing a couple of weeks ago, so you probably already know that it's a burger topped with deep-fried haggis and bacon, and then smothered with whisky and Irn Bru sauce - and it's every bit as bonkersly fabulous as it sounds. We attempt to balance out this excess with the new CrabAcado salad, although this does not, in truth, entirely qualify as a healthy item, delicious as it is. The pile of crabmeat is fresh and light, and the crisp, salty bacon reclining on top forms a nice contrast; we find it a little thin on actual salad though, and would like more avocado and a bit less bacon. To be fair, Franco is already on to this, and so I think a few tweaks might already have been performed to turn this into a really great dish.
Tragically, we are too full for dessert - still, this just creates another reason to go back. And anyway, I really can't help it if I'm one of those people who just can't manage to eat a thing when it's hot...
- SoLIta is on Turner Street in the Northern Quarter. We were not asked to pay for our meal on this visit.