Restaurant Review: Cafe Bar, Preston

There might be a recession going on, but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat out every now and again. Before heading off for a night of cocktail filled adventures, myself and a couple of friends decided to grab a bite to eat in town. We plumped for the Cafe Bar down Winckley Street (it’s the little cobbled street that leads to Winckley Square).

You enter into a little courtyard and into the main restaurant. You’re confronted by the bar and the kitchen next to it, it’s opened up so you can see what’s going on. All looked clean to me, and a quick search on the Preston City Council website confirmed a three star rating for food safety.

We were seated at a table in the centre of the downstairs of the restaurant and we’d arrived in time for the early bird menu. You could have any of the first three starters (mushroom, bruschetta or soup) and any pizza or pasta for the main, for a credit crunch busting £8.95. It’s valid from 3 PM – 6 PM.

The place was reasonably busy considering what time it was and we orded a bottle of Argentinian red, which went down far too easily. The starters arrived in good time and we tucked in. I’d gone for the bruschetta and it was cooked right and the portion size was average. My friends had gone for the mushrooms but these were a bit overcooked and the sauce was a bit too thick.

One of my friends had ordered a spicy tomato garlic bread that came with his starter. It was massive, one of those big round garlic breads rather than slices. We tucked in with gusto.

After the starters were cleared we relaxed with our wine before the mains arrived. The gap between starters and mains was a bit short, but I was starving so my ‘Chef’s Special’ was much needed. The chef had done his best to put everything on a pizza, there was a bit of everything although he’d gone a bit heavy on the bacon. The pizza bases were just right, not too thick and not ridiculously thin either. None of that stuffed crust nonsense here.

The restaurant was starting to fill up a bit as we tucked in to our main course, and the staff were struggling to keep up with the numbers. It’s clear that staff have been cut to the bare minimum until later in the evening when the place must be bustling. One of my friends had gone for a vegetarian lasagne and was not overly impressed with it, feeling it wasn’t cooked very well. On the other side of the table, another pizza was gobbled down with ease. The pizza sizes were good, this place does good pizza – however the pasta dishes seem a bit iffy.

We finished up with a coffee each and then settled up with the bill, just over £30 and not bad considering we’d had a starter, main and coffee each, with a side order of garlic bread and shared a bottle of red wine. Good value.

Rating: Food: 3.5/5, Drink: 4/5, Service: 3.5/5, Atmosphere/decor: 3/5, Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 18/25

Need to book? Weekends are busy, they do a lunchtime offer as well that looks as though it’d be busy.

Phone/email: 01772 558989 / info@cafebarpreston.co.uk

Address: 11b Winckley Street, off Winckley Square, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2AA (map)

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Restaurant review: Slice of Sicily, Penwortham

Slice of Sicily is a restaurant and deli

Slice of Sicily is a restaurant and deli

After a recommendation from Preston Blog reader @ruby_gem I decided to book a table at the Italian restaurant, Slice of Sicily in Penwortham.

It’s a little cafe style restaurant tucked away on Priory Lane. The restaurant is housed in a conservatory style building at the back, behind the deli, that has a continental feel to it. We were shown to a small table with a good view of the kitchen.

As it was Valentine’s Day we were given a complimentary glass of prosecco each – which was nice and tasty. The place was filing up fast and we were glad we’d booked. I went for a starter of chicken in pesto sauce while my girlfriend went for mozerella sticks with a dip. The food was whisked straight out of the kitchen onto our plate, one of the advantages of sitting right next to the kitchen!

The menu isn’t massive but this is a good thing, it stops you spending an hour pondering what to have. The starters were delicious and the portion sizes adequate. However, there was no gap between the starter and the mains. We’d just put our cutlery down from our starter and our plates where whisked away and then the mains were infront of us.

I’d plumped for a tricolore pizza (cheese, mozorella, parma ham) while my girlfriend went for the tortollini funghi (mushrooms to me and you). The pizza was reasonably dry, not much melted cheese and this was made worse by the lack of drinks. We’d ordered another drinks when our mains arrived but I was two thirds of the way through my pizza when our drinks turned up. This was no fault of the staff (all two of them) who were forced to rush around for the whole night due to the place being understaffed.

My girlfriend enjoyed her very creamy tortollini and the portion size was just right, meaning she wasn’t absolutely stuffed.

We decided not to have a dessert or a coffee and a brief chat with the waiter as we were paying the bill (just under £40 for starter, mains and one side order, and two rounds of drinks) revealed they’d had a very busy week – so the credit crunch doesn’t seem to be affecting Penwortham.

Overall, a nice little restaurant, with great food, but they need to get the staffing levels sorted out to be able to offer better service.

Rating: Food: 4/5, Drink: 3/5, Service: 2/5, Atmosphere/decor: 3/5, Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 16/25

Need to book? Definitely for early(ish) on a weekend and can imagine it’s busy at lunchtimes.

Phone: 01772 750040

Address: 7 Priory Lane, Penwortham, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 0AR (map)

Takeaway service is available.