Now, by and large I consider it a good thing to follow bars and restaurants on Twitter, or to like their pages on Facebook. For one thing, you can keep up to date with offers and special deals; for another, you can enter competitions to win stuff just by retweeting or clicking "like". All good then.
Well, nearly all good. For a greedy person like myself, one's timeline can become a constant stream of temptation, as clever restaurants post pictures of the sexy daily special or their big fat Sunday roast, often causing the poor defenceless consumer to throw aside their sad little bit of Marmite toast and rampage it into town to consume half a pig and a side of fries before you can say "sucker". One of the worst culprits for this is SoLIta, already a regular weakness of mine, who have become most adept at flooding my timeline with photos of ever-sexier burgers that I am simply powerless to resist. Take the Burger Wellington, for example - a 6oz fillet steak burger topped with pâté, mushroom duxelles, Madeira sauce and housed in a bun-shaped puff pastry case. Within hours of this handsome fellow pitching up in my line of vision, I had recruited a dear friend - and SoLIta virgin - to go there with me for lunch, not least because I had heard the current Krabby Patty special was on borrowed time and not likely to be with us much longer.
Both were as good as we'd hoped - although my friend feels he has let us all down by removing the puff pastry top in this photograph and therefore not showing us the overall burger-bun effect. The burger was beautifully rare and we felt that the combination of ingredients here was really clever - it was exactly like a Beef Wellington, but cooler, and more fun, much like ourselves. He felt the layer of pâté was thicker than it needed to be, but that may well be down to what he had already consumed - more of that in a moment. Meanwhile, my Krabby Patty was ace: a whole soft shell crab battered and deep-fried, and pretty damned cross about it - just look at him here, angrily waving his army things at me and accidentally dipping them in the ketchup as a result.
We did well to eat them both, as Franco had promised in that breezy way of his to send out a couple of samples from the new brunch menu before our mains for us to try - turns out that Franco's idea of a taster is actually a plate of food that would feed a family of four for a week (or, me, for a good hour at least). The brunch menu launches this Friday and will be available Friday to Sunday until 1pm; the full line-up was being finalised today along with portion size and pricing. However, if the rest of the menu is as good as the two dishes we tried, I can guarantee Manchester will love it. Here you see the Steak Eggs Benedict - two slabs of beautiful rib-eye steak along with capers and the usual poached eggs, muffins and hollandaise sauce. This was honestly one of the tastiest things either of us had ever eaten - the sauce was nicely vinegary and the capers added another layer of acidity to the excellent quality and flavour of the meat.
The second dish we tried was the artery-busting buttermilk fried chicken served with sweet waffles and a rich sausage gravy, a dish so filthily good it ought to be immediately banned, for all our sakes. We found ourselves defeated by the sheer size of carbohydrate, but loved the combination of crunchy-coated tender chicken and sweet waffle, as well as the gratuitous but entirely welcome presence of the creamy, sausage-flecked emulsion adding those vital extra calories.
As with much of what SoLIta does, the new brunch menu looks set to be a winner - classic dishes with just a little bit of Northern Quarter wit and invention. Go there hungry and/or hungover, and leave feeling like a champion - Manchester, I am already crying tears of joy and gratitude on all our behalfs.
- SoLIta is on Turner Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1DW; tel. 0161 839 2200. We were not asked to pay for our brunch samples but if you look at those pictures you'll know I'm not faking any enthusiasm here.