THERE was something pretty strange about Prego ... something we couldn’t quite put a finger on.
A sandwich shop by day, bistro by night, it had been on our hit list to visit for months.
And the fact that my pal and I had to book several weeks in advance to get a table on a Friday night was very promising indeed.
All the signs pointed to this being a well-kept secret, well-patronised by the locals and tucked away in a corner of the West End.
So what was it that was triggering my spidey senses as we were seated in this elegant restaurant?
And then I had it. Every single customer in the place – including us – was female.
Each table seemed to be made up of groups of friends, mothers and daughters of all ages, all out for dinner, wine and a blether at the end of the week.
“It’s often like this,” laughed the staff when we remarked on the phenomenon. “We’ve no idea why.”
More a cosy bistro than a cavernous restaurant, this stylish wee candle-lit place has bags of charm and would be just as suited to a romantic tete-a-tete as a friendly natter among friends.
As Prego newbies ourselves, we hadn’t realised that it was a bring your own bottle affair. But with a posh wine shop next door (and a Co-op further down the road) this was swiftly rectified.
The menu isn’t pricey – starters range from £3.60 to £6.75 and main courses from £8.90 to £17.50 for a steak.
I went for the chicken liver pate which was chunky and crumbly in equal measure, with a delicious curried apple chutney. A grand start.
My friend had the garlic mushroom and brie crostini – a tantalising mix of flavours and textures that worked wonderfully.
Up next for me was the pork – an absolute star of a dish. A tender, succulent fillet with a sweet edge, it was served with some fluffy sweet potato mash and lovely light sauteed veg.
My friend’s rib eye steak was huge, cooked to perfection and served with tangy balsamic cherry tomatoes, homemade fries and some creamy pepper sauce on the side. Perfection.
Although fit to burst, I followed up with a chocolate crepe with vanilla ice-cream for dessert, which was surprisingly light, while my pal tucked into a few scoops of ice-cream on their own and coffee.
The restaurant was full all night, but we were never left unattended for long, with friendly staff on hand any time we needed something.
And even though we brought the wine ourselves, it certainly flowed all night!
Regularly topped up by the restaurant manager – incidentally the only man in the room – we were starting to see why this place is such a hit among the ladies.
We left, slightly tipsy, with another table booked for us and five more of our friends.
This is one well-kept secret we’d like to share ...