At risk of sounding like a spoilt prima donna, it’s safe to say I’m fed up of the cold, wet winter nights that have kept far too many of us indoors over the last four or five months.
It’s left my fiancée Rebecca and I dreaming of warmer climates and summer holidays.
But for now we’re coming in to spring, so the real life trip oversees has been put on ice for a summery blast of what’s available close by – and by close by I mean Preston city centre.
While the city isn’t exactly known for being a tropical capital of the world, it’s safe to say what it lacks in heat it makes up for in food from exotic lands.
READ MORE: The best Greek restaurants in Lancashire
This was the case with the Olive Tree in the Miller Arcade just off Church Street and its eclectic menu of Mediterranean offerings.
The Greek restaurant was opened by Dean Wilson in 2014, following on from his first Olive Tree branch (excuse the pun) in 2007 on the heart of the Fylde coast in Lytham.
The restaurant is very modern in its outlook and you would be forgiven for questioning whether you’d come to the right place.
I enjoyed the different take on a Mediterranean restaurant due to the fact it doesn’t try to copy others, instead opting for its own style and brand.
Our coats were taken upon arrival and we were shown to a table almost straight away by the friendly front of house staff.
We opted for the a la carte menu, with our first choice being the Greek Platter (£18.50) as a starter for two.
Made up of cured beef sausage in honey, feta and red pepper dip, pitta chips, Greek slaw, beef and pork meatballs, falafel, and olives, I was embarrassingly almost left watering at the mouth – it just looked that good.
Everything on the plate oozed flavour – even the olives which, for someone who hates them, tells you all you need to know about the little green gems.
The pick of the bunch was the feta and red pepper dip. I could have eaten a mountain of it along with the pitta chips to dip. The falafel wasn’t too far behind.
For the main meal the menu had a varied selection to choose from, including Greek flat bread pizzas, moussaka, rib eye steak, and pan fried sea bass.
But, in the spirit of sci-fi classic The Terminator, I opted for the Arni (£16.95); char-grilled skewers of lamb fillet marinated in Greek olive oil, paprika and cumin, salad garnish, tzatziki and a choice of herb rice or seasoned chips.
The lamb was succulent with a nice spice balanced out by the coolness of the tzatziki. It was one of the most memorable dishes I’ve had in a long time.
Rebecca opted for the Olive Tree Burger (£11.95); advertised as a hand pressed beef burger, goats cheese, caramelised red onion, aioli, and seasoned chips.
For both dishes we swapped the chips for sweet potato chips at no additional cost, which is a rarity nowadays.
The burger itself was full of flavour and you could tell it was handmade. The goats cheese was gooey and rich. But be aware – if you aren’t a proper cheese lover this might not be the one for you, as not a bite goes by where you wont taste the cheese in all its rich glory.
The night was made twice as good by signing up to the Olive Tree’s VIP club, giving customers 40 per cent off their food bill between Sunday and Thursday.
With this being a Tuesday I was quite literally rubbing my hands in glee – which as a native Yorkshireman will come as no surprise to most people reading this.
And it was made that little bit better when we were told this discount was in fact 50 per cent off – giving my wallet a little bit of breathing space and the opportunity to use the money we’d expected to spend on sampling the desserts menu.
We split the Baklava (£5.95) – a dessert made up of layers of filo pastry with pistachio, walnut, cinnamon, honey, pistachio ice cream – and Loukomades (£5.95), Greek sweet doughnuts with a white chocolate dip.
The Baklava is an extremely savoury dish but complemented well by the pistachio ice cream and the Loukomades, which are a sugary delight through and through.
So while I may not have got my Mediterranean escape, at least my taste buds got the authentic trip of a lifetime.