The night we had to play a waiting game for dinner

Plato's in Kirkby Lonsdale.

Plato's in Kirkby Lonsdale.

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“I feel like I’m at home in front of the telly!” exclaimed Mr Eating Out, amid careful mouthfuls of soup at the knee-high table.

Plato’s was so packed that the only spot they were able to offer us was a low coffee table at a sofa in the bar area. Not ideal for eating out, but admittedly it was our fault for not booking in advance, having not realised just how popular the restaurant was.

Even on the grey mid-week night we visited, Plato’s was packed with holidaymakers and well-heeled young locals enjoying a glass of wine or bite to eat in the smart surroundings.

Its popularity, and the attractive Georgian building with its pretty courtyard, filled me with high hopes of a vintage dining experience, but sadly we were left feeling a bit disappointed.

Perhaps being tucked away in a corner of the bar rather than in the main restaurant made us feel rather forgotten about, with a long wait to take our drinks order and then our food order, despite the friendliness of the polite, young waiting staff. There was a good selection of real ales and wines but we were on best behaviour mid-week and stuck to soft drinks.

We ordered from the bistro menu rather than the more expensive main one, though a tapas menu was also available for those wanting to mix and match. The dishes were varied and wide-ranging, with plenty of seafood and vegetarian options, alongside bar staples such as steak burgers and steak frites.

I chose the Old Applebian cheese soufflé with English “Parmesan” and Waldorf salad (£6.95) to kick off. It arrived beautifully presented on a slate platter with grapes and wonderful toasted walnuts dotted artfully around the souffle. It was a nice light way to start the meal, but I felt the souffle’s cheese lacked the maturity needed to be a proper foil to the tangy Waldorf dressing.

Mr Eating Out (not realising our low-slung table was where we’d actually be eating) settled for the butternut squash soup (£4.50). It was a generous, creamy bowlful with a small pot of seasoning on the side, though they lost marks for not providing butter with the thick wedge of accompanying bread.

There was again quite a wait before our main course arrived. I dabbled with ordering potted shrimp, but fearing it might not be filling enough for a main course, we decided to both have paella (£10.95 each). I need not have worried about going hungry as the hefty bowls, stuffed with chicken and chorizo and a giant king prawn lurking under the rice were more than enough. I’d have to say I’d prefer the prawns to have been peeled first, and the rocket side salad came awkwardly crammed into a tiny, fiddly bowl, but the dish was pleasant enough and certainly filling.

And then came more waiting. Eventually our dishes were cleared away but, when after 10 or so minutes later, no-one had returned to even ask if we wanted to see a dessert menu, we decided to get the bill, which came to £38.40 with two drinks. The style was great but the substance wasn’t quite there.

Jenny Simpson visits Plato’s in Kirkby Lonsdale and discovers that this is one place you definitely need to book in advance.

Soup at Plato's Kirkby Lonsdale

Soup at Plato's Kirkby Lonsdale